The usual prescription for this malady: study, read, learn and plan for the future. Said in so many words by the late, great Stan Golomb. I miss Stan. He always knew the trends and he always prepared for them. A man who’s past, Stan often spoke of his days as a Marine in World War II. In his later years he seemed to enjoy talking about that Marine Corps past as much as anything. But, he had accomplished it all by then. When an icon of our great industry passes, I think back on Stan and his creativity.
“The Marine Corps Provided The Background”
My thoughts for trends? They are okay if they are an investment. Is the return on the investments of trends worth the fight? Can you see the light at the end of the tunnel? Already trends that came and went in my younger days have come back, much to my happiness. Cleanable, pressable clothing that keeps us paying the bills. How many times was I asked in my travels of yesteryear, “what is on the horizon? Shall I stay in the business and wait for it to make the turn again? What is my plant now worth? Should I flee or fight the fight?”
My Marine Corps background tells me to stay with it and face the battle straight on. That is the battle of shrinking number of drycleanable garments. Many ask how they can face the onslaught of discount cleaning? Many wonder why higher priced cleaning does a better volume in most cases than a discount operation. “Should I invest in a new cleaning machine? How do I meet the competition head on? Many, many seemingly unanswerable questions, but most can be resolved. But it takes guts and the will of steel sometimes to know what to do.”
“What’s A Fella To Do?
I am not impressed with too much diversification in a drycleaning and laundry business. The days of fur cleaning are long gone. Only routes and restoration work seem to offer much. However, with routes it is a constant battle to keep a driver and keep a customer. Many times they are bought by your competition. Restoration requires almost being in the pocket of every insurance company out there. Then there are the big groups that have gobbled up all of the business in every area of the U.S. What’s a fella to do?
I remember traipsing all over the good old U.S. of A working and trying to solve problems for folks who got into the wrong business and bought themselves a lousy paying job. Stuck at the plant all the time. Never a chance to attend an educational seminar or be a part of their drycleaning associations. Missing out on all the fun and friendships. Often my old buddy, Jeff Schwarz of A. L. Wilson Chemical Company fame, and I marvel at the years we spent on local, state and national associations within many states. A pure amazing accomplishment for ourselves and the others we served with. I mean to tell you we traveled everywhere preaching our gospel of drycleaning and laundry. Just the way my pappy taught me and Jeff’s boss Fred Schwarzman of A. L. Wilson taught him. We covered the ground like the blue moon covers a night.
“Trends And The Economy Pert Near Did Us In!”
I may be rambling and reminiscing, but the point is that despite the adversities and bad luck, a fella must stick it out and fight the battle against small businesses and alarming trends. Trends like the ones that almost killed our industry in 1970 and pert near did us in, in 2008. Or at least it slam-dunked us a might! But we are licking our wounds and moving forward. That is, those who weathered the storm and met the trends head on.
What’s to be learned by all these trends, movements and changes in our industry? Learn that it is ever changing and if you don’t keep your eye on the eagle, you may lose your footing. I try and wake up every day glad to be alive, a Christian and a proud member of a group of association people, drycleaners and trades people that made me a decent living and provided me with the capacity to think for myself. We can all do this friends. Take the bull by the horns!
I’m headin’ to the wagon now, these boots are killin’ me!