University Electric Is Workin’ at the Car Wash

BOARDMAN, Ohio – The final phase of construction on the state-of-the-art Coates Car Care on South Avenue in Boardman is nearly complete. The roof has been on for more than six months, and University Electric is steadily working to complete its portion of the project.

“Electricians have the bulk of the work here. There’s not a single spot in this place that isn’t heavily electrical,” said Ahren Peplow, foreman for University Electric.

Never-Before-Seen Features 

This is one of the most elaborate car washes in the Mahoning Valley.

“There’s a waiting room, which is a first for Coates, an autopay station, a license plate camera that registers each vehicle and a garage with detail bays, and the concrete leading to the wash tunnel is heated,” said Eric Jay, vice president of University Electric.

Jay says before any concrete was poured in the early stages of construction, crews ran between 2 to 3 miles of underground wiring. Then, once the walls went up, electricians followed the path with more wiring and lighting work.

Automation Makes It Happen

The most impressive part of the project is the wash tunnel – as well as what’s on the other side of it. The main controls for the car wash and all the electrical panels have space of their own. This way, repairs and adjustments can be made without disrupting the tunnel, workers stay dry, and equipment is protected from corrosion.

Ahren Peplow of University Electric explains how the pump control system operates.

“When someone selects a service, it communicates to the control panel what to do. That’s how the water, soap or wax gets pumped into the tunnel,” Peplow said.

He says the most time-consuming and challenging part is matching up the automation lines. It’s also better as a one-person job.

“It’s easier knowing who to go to for questions or troubleshooting. When it’s the same person, you learn why they did what they did,” Jay said.

Vehicles need to be in neutral gear going through the car wash. A track along the floor pulls customers to each station in the tunnel.

“The lights will be a whole experience, too. They’re very flashy and change colors. It’s all LED,” Jay said.

The main electrical service runs to a transformer inside – which is tied to a 1,200-amp panel. Then, the power breaks down into smaller panels.

“There’s a lot of high voltage items running in here,” Peplow said.

Wrap-up Work

Jay says most of the fixtures in the building are done. Electricians will finish their work once everything is painted.

The car wash offers free vacuum stations and cleaning options for floor mats. It’s expected to open to the public the second week of August.

Main panels for controls and power supply to the car wash.

“This has been a great project for us. It’s also great for Boardman because there’s nothing like this here,” Jay said.

He has been doing work for Coates for years and says this location takes the cake in car wash technology.

University Electric is a member contractor of NECA-IBEW Electricians, an association of IBEW Local 64 in Youngstown, IBEW Local 573 in Warren and signatory electrical contractors throughout the Mahoning Valley.


Pictured at top: Ahren Peplow of University Electric is the foreman on the Boardman Coates Car Care project.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.