Touring car driver Emmet O’Brien established NoH2O, Ireland’s first waterless and eco-friendly car valeting service, in 2007. O’Brien, who continues to race on famous international circuits like Monza and Estoril, hit upon the idea for the venture while on the track.
“Back in 2007, I was racing for Seat in the World Touring Car Championship and they had a small sponsor on board, which was an American company called ProKote,” he said.
“It made waterless cleaning products. I could not believe it when I saw the products working. I got talking to the company. They didn’t have a distributor in Europe and I got the distributorship for a range of eco-friendly products.”
To clean your car with ProKote, you simply apply and wipe, resulting in an all-round better outcome for the environment.
“One of the main priorities we have is educating people that this product isn’t a fad — it really is exceptional,” said O’Brien.
“It saves water, there’s no chemical leakage, it leaves a better finish and is better for the car. It will revolutionise the way car cleaning is done.”
NoH2O offers valet car-cleaning services in car parks and also sells its own product range. O’Brien believes that retail sales, in particular, have the potential to take off in the European market.
“That’s where we see the business developing over the next five years. We want to get it into retail outlets and service stations,” he said.
The company serves the Irish market from offices in Dublin, where it employs four staff. It plans to begin selling elsewhere in Europe in 2010. O’Brien is projecting revenues of around €1 million within 12 to 18 months. This year, he will drive for BMW in the European Touring Car Cup in Portugal and next year he will compete in the World Touring Car Championship — a venture that will take him and the NoH2O brand all over the world.
“We will have the brand logo on the car and we will be racing at all the main circuits in Europe and some further afield.
“We are also hoping to attract distributors to come and see the products being showcased at the events. It is a powerful marketing platform,” he said.
NoH2O launched franchise operations in recent weeks, offering mobile cleaning units to franchisees at a cost of e15,000 (excluding VAT).
For O’Brien, the changing consumer habits brought about by the downturn are welcome.
“People are not changing their cars as much now so they are paying a bit more to maintain them. A car is probably the second-biggest investment most people will make in their life,” he said.