I often enjoy quoting some of our industry’s past giants. These industry greats are largely gone from us but fondly remembered. Icon’s like Stan Caplin of Baltimore, Maryland; Ray Collucci of Mamaroneck, New York and Stan Golomb of Willowbrook, Illinois. DLI instructors, mentors and fans will all remember gentile Ken Faig of Maryland and others depending on what generation you were trained in. I taught with, and learned from, these great teachers. They were my heroes and I miss them. I love to quote these folks, including Bill Bogus – once the President of Textile Services in Laurel, Maryland. Bill had some good quotes and was a starch supporter of Associations. Quotes such as “to recognize advantages we must recognize the disadvantages.” Also, “The risk of self-tutoring is inviting mistakes,” taken from an article Bill wrote in a November 1991 column. Every word was written to convey to us the importance of Association work. This was taught by Roseville, California’s talented and revered Doris Easley. Or the guru of drycleaning instruction, Dan Eisen of Florida. Bill Seitz was a teacher to me, longtime industry supporter, longtime Executive Director of the Neighborhood Cleaners Association of New York and a friend. Bill was one of the very best as an instructor. I never knew, nor did I ever become the great, gentile and thorough instructor Bill was. I knew no one, other than myself, who had such a passion for the liabilities there were in teaching and improving environmental work.
I cannot begin to write this without a nod to the many Association supporters such as Marcia Todd, Carol Memberg, Chris Tebbs, or my many friends in Canada. Early on in my teaching career, Everett Childers of Oklahoma was a mentor of mine. The list goes on and on. I know there are others, especially in California and Texas that have been huge Association supporters and friends of mine.
Forgive me for those I left out. With age comes memory loss and there is not enough room to mention you all. If those of you who are new to the industry, or never was interested in Associations, knew how much these giants spent a lifetime supporting our Associations, you would be ashamed that you too weren’t involved. Is it any wonder our Associations are slowly dying?
Most articles by authors over the years have mandated quality work as the most important effort that drycleaners can provide for their customers.
I have kept every article written by these greats since 1971. I know many of you go further back than that but who saves these articles? I do! And probably many others. I only saved the ones that stood out, but I can tell you that even in retirement I have close to a hundred three ring binders of articles by others. Too many to ever enter into my computer and I prefer to hold them in my hand rather than stare at a computer screen to read them, just staring like a tree full of owls. As you all know by hearing me rant about computers over the years, they are not my favorite way to communicate. As I have said many times over the years, “progress is never a bargain; you have to pay for it.” As the great actor Spencer Tracy once said, “With the telephone we lose the sound of a person’s voice, with the airplane (which I don’t miss at all), we get the stench of kerosene and so on and so on. Social media has some positive advantage benefits. I’m not that stupid of a hick (though I was always proud to promote my love of the South, especially Texas and our cowboy way of talking, acting and dressing. It became my trademark, as the “Cowboy Cleaner.” But the sound of a person’s voice and inflections as well as the joy of receiving a handwritten letter or card mailed to you will lighten a person’s day and gladden their heart. Therein lies the loss in progress. As for famous quotes, follow me for more.
Famous quotes that will endure forever such as the fervent quest for quality which Ray Colucci many times repeated. Ray also liked to say “Quality is the door and technology is the key.” Boy, was he ever right. Another Rayism was “You can raise or lower your prices, improve service, parking and packaging, but the plant that survives is the one with the built in standard of excellence. We never pressed or whammed a garment, we are finishers.” Ray once sold presses and pads. He knew his stuff. He always said, and correctly reminded us that the pad and extra vacuum was the key to quality finishing. Everyone who ever attended a class with Stan Caplan also knew he was the king of stain removal and properly maintaining a drycleaning machine. Stan was a walking encyclopedia of drycleaning. He once said, “As drycleaners or launderer, we cannot do a good job with speed.” Stan knew there were exceptions out there that he met in his consulting travels that were finishers, good and fast. I knew a few also. But that is certainly not the norm. Speed never impressed these giants and they all spoke of the value in quality first. Stan Caplin was a laundry marvel having spent a great deal of his time perfecting the way to press military khakis, dress blues and battle dress. He knew his stuff. A great Stan quote: “Customers are not concerned about your production problems or loss of profit. Their only concern is getting the quality they are paying for.” Stan was almost fanatical – like the other great Stan – about proper padding and the value in extra vacuuming. You could take his word to the bank!
I Fought The California Environmental Trail Of Tears With My Many Friends There
Who could ever forget Bill Seitz warning us about the storm coming from the government and our soon to be environmental woes? Longtime environmental expert industry predictions and enforcing and struggling with the Federalies? The (NAC), National Association of Cleaners, preceded by the National Cleaners and Dyers Association (NADC) originally formed in 1907 in Milwaukie, Wisconsin. Thank Bill Fisher and Bill Seitz for all of this help. There are many past Presidents of DLI that have been extremely devoted to Association work and their states environmental issues. How could I forget the camaraderie of drycleaners who served on the DLI board with me and stood against over regulation of environmental issues during the 2010 – 2014 board? Hail to my friends on the board such, as Ms. Jan Barlow of Clio, Michigan, who also helped me during my illness, as did fellow board member Dave Machesney of Westbrook, Maine.
My 3X Beaver Stetson Hat Is Off To You All
Back to finishers, in California I remember a quote from onetime instructor Helen Dugan who said: “Viva la difference,” to the difference between a finisher and a presser. Helen was a longtime supporter of the California Drycleaners Association. I have board friends in California such as Bobbie Davis, CCA & DLI President of Texas and San Diego, Barry Gershenson, CCA President of Los Angeles, Marti Russell, CCA President of San Mateo, CCA President Barry (bear-bear) Brossard of Sonoma California, CCA/IDC President, the sweet Lynnette Watterson of San Mateo California, CCA President Scott Bell of Pasadena, California, CCA President Harry Boucher of Turlock and the great Doris Easley of Roseville, California to name just a few. I traveled with and fought legislation with these kind folks along the original trail of environmental grief of the nation – the leader of kooky environmental rules – California! A great state with a terrific group of industry owners and leaders. Like Texas and Arizona, I have many plant owner friends I have worked with. My Stetson 4x beaver hat is off to you all!
My friend and recently deceased author and lecturer Sid Tuchman was a giant. I first listened to a speech he made back in 1985 in Tucson, Arizona when I was active with the Arizona Drycleaners Association and later served as Executive Director, a speech that was so smoothly expressed by this successful plant owner in Indianapolis, Indiana that I was blown off of my seat. I followed him like many drycleaners in the country for years. He once spoke to me in a trade publication article saying “Kenney Slatten, quality is undefined and the customer sets the quality.” I never could swallow that one. I respected this man but could never say that I allowed (or any Drycleaner) to not set their own quality level. We remained friends though. Pals like Bill Hay of Phoenix, Arizona, Larry Durgin of Tucson and my third partner on the DLI board, Dave Silliman of Phoenix, Arizona and Bill Casassa of San Rafael, California. The great businessman James Deaton of Dallas, Texas and my many other drycleaning friends in the Lone Star State!
This article went far longer than I intended to, but as I began free writing it on my usual yellow legal pad, I realized that I could probably write a book about all the people I admired in this industry. In fact, I may one day do just that! My cowboy apologies to friends and customers I left out.