To those who know me or have read my columns in another trade publication for the past twenty-two years, it is good to see you again. For those new to the industry, I greet you and tell you that this is a fun and exciting business to be in. Well, maybe not so fun right now, but it will be again to those who can adapt to the ever-changing times we are now struggling through. I would also like to add that I am pleased to join some excellent writers for the Cleaner and Launderer. I have been reading them for years and they have earned a great deal of respect throughout the industry.
We in the industry have thought we have seen changing times before but the current situation may be eclipsing anything we have even thought of.
That is a pretty bold statement but when the present economic situation is considered with the reduction in poundage and placing a lot of good used equipment on the market, the buying habits of consumers have changed and may be very difficult to have them go back to the ways in which we have been accustomed. Many cleaners have taken this period to reduce expenses with efficiency and re-negotiating their leases. This could be called “business as usual” but the larger changes are the suppliers to the industry and how they have had to change to either stay afloat or stay in business. Some decided to simply merge with other companies or agree to be bought out. Either way there are fewer suppliers today thanthere were in years past.
Some of the latest news is that Rynex made a re-emergence as a solvent without environmental concerns while doing an excellent job of cleaning. The company that re-introduced Rynex has changed the original formula to one with less odor, yet still providing the superior characteristics of the original formula. This company is a new name for the cleaning industry, Equinox Chemicals in Albany, GA. The next progression is when Equinox entered into a joint venture with one of the largest drycleaning and laundry manufacturing chemical companies in Europe, Christeyns, who has over 250 field technicians and a well respected training center for their products and procedures.
After the joint venture with Christeyns, Equinox bought one of the countries oldest and most respected chemical companies in the US, Adco Inc. Adco has a large number of representatives in the US who will be selling and servicing the entire line of products for the laundry and drycleaning industry.
With the reduced number of chemical companies for the industry, this is leaving the Equinox/Adco company as the largest in the nation, along with a few regional companies.
Kreussler Chemical Company of Germany has made inroads into the US market in the past several years with their line of drycleaning and laundry detergents and specialty spotters and additive chemicals. At the Clean Show last year, they introduced their new solvent, K4, and have a number of plants using it with good results.
GreenEarth is a viable solvent in the line-up with many plants in the U.S., Europe and Asia. It is a silicone solvent that is reported to be a benign solvent with no environmental concerns. It is a gentle solvent and needs an approved GreenEarth machine and a license fee paid annually.
High-flash hydrocarbon solvents have been around for about fifteen years, provide gentle cleaning and are available from two different refining companies. Other hydrocarbon solvents have been around for over 100 years and their characteristics are well known. Exxon’s DF-2000 is available through RRStreet Company while Chevron’s Eco-Solv is available through independent chemical distributors. Detergents and specialty spotters are readily available through regular drycleaning supply companies.
With the number of drycleaners who have gone out of business, there is a lot of equipment that has been repossessed or simply for sale from liquidators. This could result in some good buys on drycleaning machines, finishing equipment or even tensioning equipment. There are several websites dealing in used drycleaning equipment and even eBay has their fair share. Always ask your local equipment dealer first as they probably have some surplus equipment and the local reputation to service it.
There have been a number of entire plants and dry stores that have been purchased at good prices and more are becoming available every day. These stores or plants are available simply because the owners are tired or have tried to sell and there were few buyers. This would be a good way in which to prepare for the time when the economy recovers and it appears from all indications that it is slowly coming out of the deep ditch in which it has been placed in the past seven or eight years.
With the news above it is apparent the industry has changed whether we have seen it or not. I believe there will be major changes in the future regarding re-building the poundage we once had, the equipment and procedures we use to clean clothes, the spotters we use, and most of all the decisions that will be made regarding the solvent we use as it must be easy to use, do a thorough job of cleaning, and be environmentally sound with no possibility of any ill effects to the workers or those around the solvent. It must also be cost efficient and have the ability to carry a workable amount of moisture for the water-soluble soil removal that comprises the most of the soil we remove during cleaning.
In addition, maybe the biggest news of all is there has been a change at the Drycleaning and Laundry Institute (DLI) that has already shown it is also changing and becoming more member responsive. I believe it will soon have some excellent training programs and information available to its members. It is also the first time I have seen DLI and the other national association, National Cleaners Association (NCA) be on pleasant speaking terms. This is a result of Mary Scalco, as CEO of DLI and Nora Nealis, CEO of NCA doing their jobs and both are masters of getting full information and then positively acting on it in everyone’s behalf. Nora has been doing an excellent job at NCA for many years, Mary Scalco has been an executive at DLI for many years also, and can now work together and the results can only be fantastic for the members and the entire industry. I would suggest that all who are earning a living from the industry to become members of one or the other associations. Join either one, you won’t go wrong and will get much more back than you pay in dues.
So, with all of the current information above you can readily see there are a lot of changes that will be coming about in the near future. I will always do my best to keep you up on the latest that is affecting the industry and how to make your jobs easier, more professional and more profitable.
If you have questions or comments about anything drycleaning please send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also feel free to go to my website, TextileCleaning.com as there are a lot of articles there on drycleaning procedures, solvents, and other things to help your profits and production….and it is all free.
Everett Childers has spent most of his life in the drycleaning industry as a Plant Owner, Columnist, Sales Engineer, Consultant, Technical Advisor, College Instructor, Educator, Author of the Master Drycleaners Notebook and other drycleaning textbooks. He has spoken at numerous association and company Open Houses. His books are available through his website or may be ordered from Cleaners Supply.