Exactly 1 year ago, Westport Wash & Wax won a WeGreenWestport award. The car wash was honored for using biodegradable chemicals, recycling 70% of its water, installing solar panels, even taking glass and plastic bottles from cars to the transfer station.
But last April times were flush. Did the toilet-swirling economy cause the car wash to reconsider its environmental commitment?
Absolutely not, says co-owner Craig Tiefenthaler. He and his brother Scott — who founded the business nearly 10 years ago — have not wavered at all.
“It does cost money,” Craig notes. “We pay for state-of-the-art equipment and the best chemicals. The photovoltaic panels on the roof are not free. Aquarion doesn’t give their water away.
“But it’s the right thing to do.”
Business is off this year, Craig admits. “No one is escaping what’s happening. But we’re a viable business. I’m not bragging, but we’re holding our own.”
In fact, the economy is less worrisome than the weather. “A rainy weekend — that’s a real killer,” Craig says.
He adds proudly: “We haven’t laid off a single worker. It’s important to keep good men.” The average turnover in nearby car washes is 5 months. He’s had the same employees for years.
One area where energy must be expended: Every car gets freshly washed towels. “You can’t wash nice cars with dirt,” Craig says. As if on cue, a shiny BMW rolls by.
What’s ahead for Westport’s green car wash?
“We’ll keep upgrading, keep adding state-of-the-art, environmentally sound stuff,” Craig promises.
He suddenly remembers something else. “We just redid our bathroom. It’s probably the nicest public restroom in town.”
Scott Tiefenthaler will speak at tomorrow’s “Green (Brown) Bag Luncheon,” featuring First Selectman Gordon Joseloff. The event will be held at noon in Town Hall (Rooms 307/309).