Getting to Know Your ICA Board: Craig Campbell, General Manager, Good Sight Australia
ICA Board Member Craig Campbell has not only been on every side of the industry — sales, manufacturing, operations, distribution, consulting and car wash ownership — he’s also experienced it in spots all over the world. From international sales with Mark VII in Mexico to operating a car wash in Denver while living in Germany to supporting DRB in Australia, “I’ve always had an interest in things overseas,” Campbell said. And while Kansas City, Mo., was where he grew up, the list of places he’s either studied, lived or worked includes West Germany, Mexico, Denmark, Asia, Germany and, most currently, Australia. Plus, he’s visited countless car washes in countries all over the world. “For a guy who never imagined he’d make a career in the car wash business, it’s been a fun journey,” Campbell said.
How did you get into the car wash industry? Do you want the short or long answer? I traveled a lot for school and work — I lived in Europe and Mexico, so I learned their languages. A friend of mine in Dallas had some customers in Mexico and was having trouble finding a translator. So, I ended up being a translator on a sale of Mark VII equipment in Mexico. After that, I joined Mark VII to handle their international sales — which was soon bought by WashTec. I moved to Germany only to have one of their Australian distributors get bought out, so then I moved to Sydney to get them set up. After I worked through that contract, I came across Good Sight and they had an opportunity and I happened to be available, so that’s where I’ve been since. I’ve been in Australia for 13 years, now.
What does a typical day look like for you? We work in a lot of different markets — petroleum, motor dealers, commercial washes. There are no typical days. You try to enter the week with a plan and then things change. What we try to do is serve our customers and make them successful.
What keeps you coming back every day? It’s the challenge. It’s a whole different dynamic because you get to go and talk customers through how they can be better at earning money out of their business versus just reducing your cost and doing the bare minimum. You slug it out with competition and you build stuff — that’s what keeps me coming back.
What has been your biggest learning in the industry? It’s a solid, solid industry. It turns out , the car wash industry is mostly recession-proof and it’s pandemic-proof — and that’s a good position to be in. Most of my colleagues were going into tech jobs and I would think, “Hey, maybe I should be on that track.” But looking back, it was the right call because it’s a very sustainable and global business, and you actually add value.
"It turns out, the car wash industry is mostly recession-proof and it’s pandemic-proof — and that’s a good position to be in."
What should people in the car wash industry be paying attention to? Customers. Sounds like I’m being smart, but if you lose track of your customers then you go astray. The danger is that you lose focus looking at the model and you forget about the underlying engine of what makes it possible. In North America, you see a trend toward growth by acquisition, and that creates opportunities for niche players. That trend is apparent and it may very well be successful as long as they listen to their customers.
What’s the biggest difference between the Australian and North American car wash markets? It’s a big continent but it’s very urban — 25 million people with 80% of us living in five or six cities — so property prices are accordingly high. That changes the equation when you’re building, say, an express tunnel because the scale will look a lot different. Also, dog washes are all the rage in Australia. You really wouldn’t build a car wash without a couple dog washes.
What’s something you do for fun, that refuels your own tank? My life ends up being a bit of a routine, going from kids’ sports to activities to this and that. In one of my crazier moments in 2017, I agreed to stand as a candidate for the city council where we live, and to my surprise subsequently won reelection by a good margin. So, I also serve on the city council, which is fun most days.
What would people be surprised to find out about you? When I was a kid, I practiced Tae Kwon Do. And despite not having practiced in many decades, I can still do the splits. I’ve still got the stretch.