Semis rumbling out of the Bakken often come loaded with not only oil, but plenty of mud, and, in the wintertime, ice. A new truck wash has set up shop in Minot to deal with the dirty problem.
Blue Beacon Truck Wash is located next to Schatz Crossroads Truck Stop on the U.S. Highway 2 and 52 East Bypass, and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Keenan Brown, director of operations, said Minot is their 113th location, and the second location in North Dakota, following Fargo. The Minot wash opened Feb. 6.
Blue Beacon was founded more than 40 years ago in Salina, Kan., by Charlie Walker. Since that time, it has expanded from coast to coast across the United States and even into Canada.
"The company found that it had a good concept and it was a niche in the market that was missing at the time," Brown said.
"The company was founded on a high-quality, fast wash with friendly service," he added.
Blue Beacon will wash all manner of semis and trailers, as well as smaller vehicles such as RVs and motorcoaches. The wash itself is a high-pressure mixture based on special cleaning solutions and good old-fashioned hot water. Along with the washing, Blue Beacon provides an all-surface protectant in Rain-X, a paint protectant in Weathershield, and a polished aluminum cleaner in Citrushine.
Blue Beacon Truck Wash in Minot is located next to Schatz Crossroads Truck Stop, 1712-20th Ave. SE, on the U.S. Highway 2 and 52 East Bypass. It is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The only three days it is closed during the year are Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. The phone number is 839-0941. Blue Beacon's single-bay facility in Minot offers a variety of washing services for semis, trailers, RVs and motorcoaches. In addition to exterior and engine washing, patrons also have the choice of Rain-X all surface protectant, Weathershield paint protectant and Citrushine polished aluminum cleaner. Blue Beacon also offers trailer washouts, excluding tanker and livestock trailers. For more information visit the website (www.bluebeacon.com).
In addition, two important services offered that trucks working in the Bakken are usually in particular need of are de-mudding and deicing. Washing off the mud and ice isn't just an aesthetic issue, either.
Brown glanced out the window and noted a truck with several chunks of ice hanging off the trailer. Brown said while it might not look like much, he estimated all that ice could weigh upwards of 500 pounds, adding to the truck's weight and lowering its fuel efficiency. If there's one thing all truckers can agree on, it's that paying less at the pump is always a good thing.
Most of the locations Blue Beacon is in don't have Minot's particularly cold winters, and Brown said they have had to take special measures to deal with the frigid seasonal temperatures this area often has.
"Something that's unique to our Minot location is the extreme cold temperature, which has required us to have floor heat in our entrance, our bay floor, and our exit driveways to ensure a clean and safe environment for our employees and customers," Brown said. "The floor heat makes a real difference."
"We have a location in Fargo, but we were told that Minot is colder," he added with a laugh.
The wash bay also has a powerful heater that is used to both keep employees warm and cut down on the fog generated when trucks first drive in and the bay is flooded with cold air.
Depending on the size and shape of a truck, it can take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes for a typical wash. Each member of the wash team has specific tasks depending on the vehicle, what services the driver asks for, and how many people are there to do the job. Brown said Blue Beacon has developed very specific organizational methods over the years that take the vehicle and number of people into account when doling out responsibilities.
"Over the years Blue Beacon has learned how to take anywhere from two to seven people, and to organize them into positions with specific processes that they are able to do fast, and provide a high-quality wash," Brown said. "So each position has specific responsibilities, starting down from our supervisor to the entry-level bay attendant."
While this helps with efficiency, he was quick to point out it doesn't come at the cost of cleanliness, which is first and foremost what Blue Beacon strives for when every vehicle enters the wash bay.
While all the Bakken and other trucking activity in the area was a big reason Blue Beacon came to town, another was the Schatz family. Brown said the Schatzs own the Petro station Blue Beacon is at in Fargo in addition to owning Schatz Crossroads in Minot. The experience of working with the family-owned business again was definitely a draw for Blue Beacon when they looked to come farther north toward the Bakken.
"We've been partnering with them in Fargo and we came here to Minot, to a great extent, because of the opportunity, but also to work with quality people like Schatz Truck Stop," Brown said. "They're a family operation. ... So that's one of the things that brought us here."
That sentiment was echoed by Trace Walker, president of Blue Beacon, in a press release.
"We believe our new location will be a great asset to both Blue Beacon and the folks who live and work in and around Minot and we are pleased to be associated with a quality family operation like Schatz Crossroads Truck Stop," Walker said. "We're looking forward to providing our high-quality service to truck owners and drivers in that area for many years to come."
Although Blue Beacon has only been in Minot a short time, Brown said the Magic City has already managed to impress with its warmth and hospitality. While the weather might be cold, he said the reception they have received from everyone here has been anything but.
"The people in Minot, just the community of Minot, they've been so welcoming, so helpful, and they made us very quickly feel comfortable here in Minot," Brown said. "So we're enjoying the community very much."