KALAMAZOO, MI – Eric and Angela Brockus have owned Rick and Stan’s Car Wash at 3915 Stadium Drive since 2021. The car wash itself has been around since the 1970s.
On Monday, November 13, the car wash reopened after six weeks of construction with a new layout, new technology and up-to-date environmental precautions.
Focusing on car washing has always been the couple’s business model. Their four car washes are not combined with gas stations or convenience stores. Their motto, Eric said, is that if you produce a clean car, the customers will come back.
While this focus remains the same, the site has gone through many changes to bring it up to the standards set by both the local government and the Brokuses.
“Eric was always on top,” Angela said. “He’s always looking for that new technology and he’s not afraid to try it out.”
Customers will notice a freshly paved driveway lined with 20 free vacuums, two new checkout stations, a new menu and a new office. Inside, the car wash was gutted and all new equipment was installed over a six-week period. The expansion process itself began last December, according to Eric.
Ric and Stan’s is located adjacent to Asylum Lake, although other properties are between the car wash and the lake preserve. Their plot is included in the city’s Natural Features Protection Overlay, which was created in 2019 to protect natural areas.
CONNECTED: The car wash plans to expand near the Asylum Lake Preserve
Businesses in overlay zones are subject to an additional set of zoning rules that ensure the preservation of natural features such as protected trees and forests, according to Kalamazoo Sustainability Coordinator Jamie McCarthy.
Although Eric said they could have pursued a site plan that had a greater impact on the natural features surrounding their business, they weren’t interested in taking that route.
“We don’t want to ask if we can harm the environment,” Eric said. “We’d rather leave that and navigate around it.”
In addition to a site plan that minimizes the car wash’s impact on the surrounding natural area, there are several features in the car wash designed to reduce environmental impact. This includes a system that recycles 80% of the water used to clean cars, a remote-controlled chemical mixing machine and fully electronic equipment that is quieter and reduces the risk of oil spills.
“Before, it was all hydraulic equipment, so you’d have 25- to 30-gallon tanks circulating oil all over the place that’s running, but if there’s a leak, all that oil goes right down the drain,” Eric said. “It was an investment, but I think it’s not only safer for the environment, but better all around.”
Although Eric said it would be naive to think that a car wash doesn’t have an impact on the environment, the diluted chemicals used are less of a concern than the dirt, oil, gas and other contaminants that wash off cars.
Rick and Stan’s car wash is just west of another site adjacent to the Refuge Lake Preserve that has been the subject of public debate and opposition. In 2020, an entrepreneur attempted to put a car wash on the site. Community members banded together to stop construction, putting harmful stormwater that would make its way from the car wash to the lake.
The Brockus family said the community conversation surrounding this development has pushed them in a positive way to seek solutions that are safer for both the environment and their employees.
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