Innovative Control Systems (ICS) took a giant leap when it moved into a brand-new 25,000-square-foot facility in Wind Gap in August. The fast-growing company, which employs 65, manufactures sophisticated computer control systems for the car wash industry.
But rapid growth over the past several years meant rapid expansion, and ICS found its operations spread throughout buildings in three different locations–Nazareth, Pen Argyl and Wind Gap.
Innovative Control Systems manufactures sophisticated computer control systems for the car wash industry. The company is working on an application of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to identify the vehicles of its most frequent customers as soon as they pull into the car wash.
With systems and products in more than 2,000 locations around the country, the time had come to consolidate. “Getting everything under one roof was a tremendous boost,” says Kevin Detrick, company president. “The new facility is laid out for our specific needs and improves just about every aspect of our operations.”
The new facility represents a $3 million investment for ICS–a move they made after careful consideration and close consultation with BFTP.
A Close Relationship
“Before we made any decisions, we talked everything over with Ben Franklin,” says Detrick. “They connected us with Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center to work on layout and workflow in a new building. We tested multiple concepts until we came up with the best solution for a manufacturing and call center.”
This is not the first time Detrick has turned to BFTP for assistance and advice. The car wash industry was flat in the late 1980s due to outdated processes and stale thinking. At the time, Detrick owned two car washes and was a distributor of products to the industry. He saw the market need for a computer management system that would integrate the actual control of the car wash equipment with other key business functions, including labor management, sales analysis and cash control.
After several years of struggling for market acceptance, ICS broke the mold in 1994 by introducing “Tunnel Master for Windows,” the industry’s only fully integrated point-of-sale, tunnel controller and business management solution.
“I used to think that if you built a better mousetrap, the world would beat a path to your door. But it takes a long time to build brand equity, and you can’t be afraid to ask for help.”–Kevin Detrick, President, ICS
“When we decided to move from being a local equipment distributor to developing a
world-class management system, we turned to BFTP for technical and business assistance,” Detrick says. “They really helped us get the first product to market.” BFTP also provided $260,000 in investment capital.
In 2002, ICS developed a new business model for conveyor car washes. They devised self-service point-of-sale devices to allow customers to select their wash, pay and then drive directly into the wash. By decoupling labor from the car wash equation, one employee could wash up to 200 cars per hour. Price points fell, speed-of-service increased, car wash volume went up, and profitability significantly improved. In one swoop, ICS had changed the way the industry operated.
Staying on the Leading Edge
Next up for ICS is an application of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to identify the vehicles of its most frequent customers as soon as they pull into the car wash.
“Based on past purchases, our clients will know what their customers want before they even pull up,” Detrick says. With the system, car washes can improve customer retention with frequency discounts, accelerated payments and more. “The bottom line is quicker service and reduced transaction time.”
As a result of the BFTP counsel, ICS has placed an even greater emphasis on building and maintaining a world-class customer experience. “I used to think that if you built a better mousetrap, the world would beat a path to your door,” says Detrick. “But it doesn’t work like that. It takes a long time to build brand equity and you can’t be afraid to ask for help along the way.”