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High-Tech Car Wash Sparkles in the Poconos

STROUD TOWNSHIP -- It's just a car wash...

"I always come here," said Phantashia Goodrich, Tobyhanna.

"I've been a member for about three or four years and I think everyone does a good job," said John Whittaker, Stroudsburg.

...or so it looks.

The first-ever Sparkle Car Wash opened near Stroudsburg back in 1982 as a full-service car wash.

"This started right here in Stroudsburg when I was 17, so this was my first car wash," said Kevin Detrick, Sparkle Car Wash president.

For Sparkle Car Wash President Kevin Detrick, this line of work is in his blood. He's been growing this business ever since he talked his parents into renting him the building in Stroud Township more than 30 years ago.

"It was a very labor-intensive business model. Now we have evolved over time into a fully automated model," said Detrick.

From terrycloths and sponges to machines that do it all for you, Sparkle Car Wash has evolved into what it says is the most technologically advanced car wash in the world.

"We are automating the wash process now. Most conveyor car washes you have people with a bucket and brush and they scrub your car, basically hand washing it before it goes through the car wash. We scan the whole image of the car and we target the chemistry, the pressure and position of all the washers for the specific shape of your vehicle," said Detrick.

All of that data is monitored on site through graphs and charts on a computer system that Detrick developed called Innovative Control Systems or ICS.

Part of this technology allows workers to target how much soap and wash materials are needed for each vehicle that goes through the car wash.

A system is also in place that only uses between 12 to 14 gallons of fresh water for each wash.

"Everything is computerized over there. It makes it easy when you want to come through late or get your car wash quick. You know it makes it convenient," said Goodrich.

"We have utility and chemical modules that track cost on a per-car basis. We can manage liquidity on site. Everything comes out in real time so I'll know how much money is in each payment terminal by denomination in the bill acceptors and dispensers. What we have in the back room, what went to the bank. We track all of that in real time," said Detrick.

Not only is this car wash very high-tech, but a lot of the machinery is made right here in Pennsylvania.

Sparkle Car Wash has grown to employ more than 140 people, making almost every part of the car wash from the computers to the brushes.

"Northeast PA is a great place because we have a lot of people that are very skilled and we have a very talented workforce. We do have offices in California and England now but we keep everything centralized here in Eastern Pennsylvania," said Detrick.

For customers, hearing that most of the parts and pieces that make up this car wash are made locally is a pleasant surprise.

"They are in business for themselves and that is good, you know. I think basically it's something that is good for the economy," said Whittaker.

"Building your own technology and having that, it makes you really competitive," said Goodrich.

The owner says he plans to continue to move forward in the car washing industry with plans to expand in Monroe County and across the world.

A teenage dream, "It's something that I think just becomes a passion and you want to do it better," said Detrick.

That became a sparkling success.