How I Got Here: Andrew O’Neil

Current Position: For the last three years, Andrew O’Neil has been the General Manager of California Linen Services in Pasadena, California.

The Company: California Linen Services, celebrating their 80th anniversary this year, is a family owned and operated commercial laundry specializing in the food and beverage industry. They have been widely recognized throughout Southern California for outstanding service and high quality products. “Currently we service almost 1,500 customers and employ over 100 incredible people,” boasted O’Neil. “Our service areas include Los Angeles, San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley, West Side, South Bay, Long Beach, Pomona Valley and Orange County.”

O’Neil believes that his company’s ability to take care of their ever-growing client base stems from the teamwork and commitment of his staff. “We’re large enough to handle the biggest orders and small enough to do it personally,” he said.

All in the Family: James O’Neil (grandfather) founded the business in 1938. In 1976, Brian O’Neil (father) and Tim O’Neil (uncle) took over California Linen Services. The company began as a diaper service, and they diversified into linen supply in 1991. Tim eventually sold his share to Brian, making him the principal owner.

Andrew O’Neil represents the third generation in the family business. “I’m proud to belong to this great family tradition of providing jobs and a service that betters our community,” O’Neil said. “Every time I explain to someone that I work for my family business, I do it with pride. The sacrifices the generations before me have made to make this business a success makes me so proud.”

Rising Through the Ranks: As a young boy, O’Neil vividly remember s occasionally coming in during summer breaks to wash trucks and help out wherever necessary. O’Neil was not on the payroll, but he relished learning various aspects of the family business.

His career with California Linen Services officially began in 1995 when he finally proved himself worthy to make it onto the payroll. He has worked in the washroom, production and delivery. He steadfastly and methodically moved up the ladder into leadership and management positions as the opportunities became available. Serving as the Route Manager and Customer Service Manager helped prepare him for his current role. “As the General Manager, I oversee all divisions and am always looking for new ways to build the strong relationships that our customers have come to expect and appreciate.”

Corporate Culture: Twenty-five percent of the employees at California Linen Services have been with the company twenty-five years or more. Those that have been there 10-15 years make up another 25 percent. He believes that the trust that exists between him and his workers cuts both ways. When O’Neil speaks of his staff at California Linen Services, one senses that he views them as more than just employees under his charge. “Family is a big part of the culture here. We’re a big giant family,” said O’Neil.

The company holds an annual Christmas party at a local restaurant with food, dancing and prizes. Spouses are encouraged to attend and participate in the fun. Team building and development of camaraderie is enhanced every year with a company-wide deep sea fishing trip. “Every other year we do a bus ride to the casinos and outlets,” said O’Neil. “If you’re doing the work and you’re showing up and you have the right attitude…that’s all we’re asking.”

Parental Guidance: O’Neil credits much of his achievement and success to the role his father, Brian has played in his life both personally and professionally. “He has an incredible work ethic that I’ve been watching and trying to emulate since I began,” Andrew said of the elder O’Neil.

Brian invested in his son’s knowledge of the industry by having him attend workshops, cost groups and trade shows. He has also enrolled Andrew in yearly courses that have allowed him to attain his Certified Professional Laundry Manager (CPLM) designation, along with attending the Executive Management Institute (EMI) program. “I obtained my diploma in 2016 that proudly hangs above my desk. I am very grateful.”

Also influential was his grandmother, Anita Sanders, who passed away in her mid-90s. “She was always learning, continually reading; she was so inquisitive and a real inspiration” O’Neil fondly recalled. “She was a big part of my life!”

Sharpening the Tools: Being involved with industry related groups and organizations helps enable California Linen Services to stay relevant about new and cutting-edge advancements in their field of expertise. O’Neil belongs to Textile Rental Services Association (TRSA) and has been active with Central States Corporation (CSC) for the last ten years. CSC meets every quarter somewhere in the United States where they will visit, tour and critique a plant. He is eagerly anticipating an upcoming excursion to Orlando, Florida where they will have the opportunity to tour the Walt Disney laundry facility. “CSC can get us into places where we wouldn’t be able to get in ourselves,” O’Neil said.

Words of Wisdom: “Surround yourself with positive people. When you associate with people who have integrity, intelligence, character, discipline and drive – good things will happen,” said O’Neil.

Navigating the fine line between serendipity and gumption is a delicate dynamic not lost on O’Neil. “Luck has a lot to do with always being prepared, getting along with other people and working hard,” he said.

“I think anyone who continues to learn more about themselves is a success,” said O’Neil. He continued, “Successful people make mistakes – they just don’t make the same mistake again and again.”

Clocked Out: When he is not busy running California Linen Services, O’Neil participates in a couple of service-oriented endeavors. Each year he “rings the bell” for The Salvation Army during the Christmas holiday season on Pasadena’s famed Colorado Boulevard where the Tournament of Roses Parade comes through.

Recently, he and a friend made one hundred sandwiches and visited a local park near his plant and handed them out to the homeless. “They don’t just want the sandwich,” O’Neil said of the growing number of homeless in the greater Los Angeles area. “They just want some human connection; a handshake and a little bit of conversation.”

Personal: Born in Pasadena and raised in nearby Covina, O’Neil, who turns 45 next month, lives in Altadena with his family. He has been married to Jen for five years. She teaches second grade at a local Catholic school. Andrew and Jen give their best effort to have “date night” once a week.

They have one daughter who will celebrate her fourth birthday in February.

“Every Sunday we have dinner and swimming or jacuzzi at my father’s house, whom my daughter calls Papa.”

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