California, among other states, is facing the challenges of extreme drought along with global warming and a looming shortage of clean drinking water – so why allow gallons of water and harmful chemicals to pour into the storm drain for one car wash when it’s unnecessary?
Brian Stranko of Clayton has a solution. The owner of the No-H2O Walnut Creek franchise, he strives to make an impact on the environment one car wash at a time. In January, he bought a franchise that uses a waterless, environmentally friendly car wash instead of detergent and water. His team sprays biodegradable liquids on vehicles using simple sprayers and wipes down the vehicles to clean them by hand.
“I’m a big believer in conservation solutions that allow actors to do good by doing it well,” said Stranko, who lives with his wife, Michele, and three daughters, ages 18, 16 and 10.
A water conservation professional for more than 20 years, Stranko was most recently director of the California Water Program for The Nature Conservancy, a global environmental organization based in Arlington, Virginia.
“After I calculated how much water could be saved in California if we could convert all consumer car washes in the state to waterless, I was convinced to get involved.” “At an average savings of 35 gallons per wash, and considering the number of consumer cars in California and the average number of car washes per year, you have enough water savings to support nearly one million people in the state. who are left without safe drinking water every year.”
The idea of waterless washing is relatively new to the United States.
“No-H2O was founded in Ireland in 2007 by ex-Formula 1 driver Emmet O’Brien and his father Eoin,” Stranko said. “They saw a gap in the car care industry, namely the need for environmentally friendly and more convenient products and services. So they’ve created a waterless biodegradable product suite and service that’s both mobile and on-demand. No-H2O goes to the consumer, not the car wash.”
His mobile company does not have a regular office and instead travels to its customers.
“We don’t need a lot of equipment or consumables as a waterless car wash organization, so we can fit everything we need into small vans and even cars,” he said.
They clean cars at people’s homes, businesses, and other convenient locations.
“We also serve business clients such as luxury apartments, country clubs, golf courses, fitness centers, shopping malls, etc., who invite us to their locations to provide our services to their clients,” added Stranko .
His company offers five different packages; from just the exterior trim to the solid parts of the interior and exterior of the car, with a typical exterior-only wash taking about 35 minutes. A comprehensive interior and exterior wash takes just over an hour, while a detailed service can take longer. Stranko explains what their price-to-price includes.
“Our services are really about detailing more than washing,” Stranko said. “The difference in quality and attention to detail. Because our service is mobile, on-demand, and run by real people who work hard to get the parts right, and because even our basic service involves polishing in addition to washing, our service costs more.”
His business is also family.
“The two older daughters work as detailers in the business, and we’re waiting for the youngest to get a little older before she jumps on board!” Stranko said.
Stranko, 51, was born in Tacoma, Wash., and grew up mostly in Selinsgrove, Pa., the son of a U.S. Army soldier. With a communications degree from Syracuse University, an MBA from Georgetown University and a certificate in environmental policy from the University of Maryland, he sees the business as a win-win.
“By demonstrating that we can make a profit by saving water with a waterless car wash, we can attract more entrepreneurs to the sector and this will help the spread of waterless car washes and overall water conservation,” he said.
Stranko looks at the bigger picture.
“For me, that’s the crux of the matter — spreading a solution outside of my own company that could lead to the complete conversion of car washes to waterless,” he said. “We also plan to help generate a movement — the spread of waterless washing becoming the norm and not necessarily with us as a supplier.”
As a member of the Concord, Lafayette, Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek Chambers of Commerce and the Clayton Business and Community Association (CBCA), Stranko gives back to the communities it serves beyond waterless car washes.
“We regularly do fundraisers with groups like the police and fire department, The Fallen Heroes, the Alzheimer’s Association and the Mount Diablo Education Foundation,” he said. “We also volunteer at community events such as local festivals and fundraisers.”
Stranko hopes that now more than ever, others will be inspired to do their part.
“I think it’s time for all of us to do our part to save our water,” Stranko said. “However, those of us who create solutions that others can participate in need to make it easy and benefit people. Otherwise, adoption of water-saving practices may never take hold.”
For more information on No-H2O, visit noh2o.com.
Charlene Earley is a freelance writer and professor of journalism at Foothill and Diablo Valley Colleges. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 925-383-3072.