The Details: The Detailing Industry's Response to Covid-19

Written by our official blogger, Thomas Powers. Check out his bio here!

I won’t hammer you over the head with any more statistics. By now, we all know how tough this situation is. That said, I’d like to make you aware of some stuff that’s happening in the detailing industry as a result of this global pandemic.

Chemical manufacturers like Adam’s Polishes and P&S are adapting their operations to produce sanitizing chemicals for hands, cars, and homes. Such products have received mixed responses from the public. Some people are highly supportive and willing to buy. Others believe it is a lame cash grab and that these companies are taking advantage of an already difficult situation. I tend to agree with the former. Here’s why:


Before this outbreak, companies like Purell and Gojo (with approximately 50% of hand sanitizer market share combined) managed to fill demand with huge, costly chemical production operations. Evidently, COVID-19 has sent demand for sanitizing products skyrocketing.


Indeed, huge cleaning product companies like Procter & Gamble and Unilever are doing their best to step up production. However, these companies must simultaneously meet similarly increased demand for their other products (bleach, wipes, soap, etc.). Even at max capacity, major industry players are finding it challenging to keep store shelves stocked.


Thus, in the same way we’re seeing Ford, GE, and Tesla making filtration and ventilation products they wouldn’t normally make, the only way to fill demand for sanitizing chemicals is for new businesses to enter the sanitization industry. Realistically, the only businesses that can do this must have existing equipment for large-scale chemical measuring, mixing, bottling, and distribution. Hence, a part of the burden still falls on chemical manufacturers from unrelated industries.


Hmm… What industry has such infrastructure at the ready and hasn’t yet been totally overrun with demand from all channels around the globe? That’s right. Car care chemical manufacturers.


These companies mix thousands of gallons of specialty products (including a lot of soap) on the daily. They have reserves of bottles. They have bottling equipment. It only makes sense that they’d do their part to fulfill some of the current demand for soaps and sanitizing products.


It may seem like a cash grab, but we must not equate these companies with the price-gouging 3rd-party sellers on Amazon advertising 1.5 oz of Purell for $100. Adam’s Polishes, for example, is selling their 12 oz hand soap concentrate for $6.99 and throwing it into orders of $50 or more for free. That’s not price gouging or unchecked capitalist greed. That’s fulfilling demand at a reasonable price.


“Special Limited Edition Anti-Corona Hand Soap” for $50 would be a price-gouging cash grab.


Likewise, Adam’s is selling their new Interior Detailer with Microban for $12.99. Their glass cleaner, one of the simplest car care chemicals on the planet, is also $12.99.


Ultimately, car care chemical manufacturers haven’t been mandated to make these switches in production. They could very well go on making high-margin spray sealants, ceramic coatings, and other car-specific products. Instead, they’ve simply seen an apparent need and are in a uniquely able position to fulfill it.


Indeed, these companies are making some money from the sale of sanitization products and these sales are pretty much only happening because of a global pandemic. However, the alternative is that these companies shut down along with other “non-essential” businesses. That would leave perfectly functional chemical production lines sitting still and would potentially put the companies us car-loving cleaners love in financial turmoil.


So, I say we look on the bright side, buy a bottle of hand soap if you need it, and recognize the unique efforts being made around the world in response to this tumultuous, scary, and crazy time.


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