Ben Alford Receives 2019 SCWA Lifetime Achievement Award
The SCWA recognizes outstanding carwash operators with the SCWA Lifetime Achievement Award. The 2019 SCWA Honoree is Ben Alford. The award will be presented to Alford at ceremonies during the Monday General Session of the Convention on Feb. 25, 2019.
Alford is owner of Benny’s Car Wash & Oil Change, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Benny’s Car Wash & Oil Change, a three-generation family-owned business, has grown to eight carwashes, five oil change facilities and three B-Quik convenience stores in the Baton Rouge area and celebrated 65 years in business in 2016.
Alford’s father, Lloyd Alford, opened the first family carwash in Pensacola, Florida, in 1951. Lloyd was in the locksmith business in Panama City, Florida, and was fascinated with the carwash operation across the street from his business. After a road trip to Detroit to check out Paul’s Auto Wash, he purchased equipment, loaded his truck and headed back to Florida to build his first wash in Pensacola.
This successful operation was followed by a second Auto Wash. To make it easy, Lloyd named his carwash operations after the street on which they were located.
In 1953, Lloyd decided to be closer to his brothers and moved his family to Baton Rouge, where he opened the first auto wash in Baton Rouge, appropriately called Florida Street Auto Wash. Alford got an early start in the family carwash business at age nine as the cashier.
In 1992, Alford expanded the family business and opened his first carwash on Airline Hwy. in Baton Rouge. Since there was another smaller carwash down the street called Airline Car Wash, Alford decided to change the tradition of naming the family business after the street. Instead, he decided on the name Benny’s Car Wash, and the business exploded from that point. Oil change options were added beginning in 1993, and then convenience stores were added in 1998.
Beginning in the late 1990s, Alford foresaw the express model becoming an opportunity in the southwestern part of the country. This model was more common in the Northeast, but Alford’s vision of tweaking the concept and making it successful in the southern part of the U.S. grew.
To refine his vision, Alford traveled to Europe, where he was able to study the express concept with gates, stacking and, in Germany, the idea of free vacuums. In 2001, Alford opened his first express model on Perkins Rd.: Benny’s Express Car Wash.
He presented workshops at many carwash conventions, including the SCWA Annual Convention, explaining his express concept. Alford welcomed operators from all over the U.S. to get a firsthand look at his new model. According to many carwash operators, Alford was the pioneer and leader in developing the express model in the South. Alford is very giving and encouraged others to learn and benefit from his research and experience.
Although Alford is still very involved in the family business, he has turned over many day-to-day activities to his sons Justin and Jason to carry on the tradition with the ninth Benny’s Car Wash currently under construction.
Alford has also given much back to the industry through his involvement in the various associations. He has served on the boards of the SCWA, the International Car Wash Association (ICA) and the Southeastern Car Wash Association (SECWA). Alford is a past president of SECWA and the ICA, and he was elected to the ICA Hall of Fame in 2004.
Alford has been very active in his community. He has been on the board of directors of Business First Bank since the bank’s founding in Baton Rouge. He served for many years on the Our Lady of The Lake Foundation board in Baton Rouge. Alford is very proud of his 30-plus years as rider and member of the Mardi Gras Krewe of Endymion in New Orleans.
Congratulations to Ben Alford.
Source: Professional Carwashing & Detailing https://www.carwash.com/inside-look-scwa-2019/