Words From the Street

How I Got Here: Coral Petersen

Current Position: Coral Petersen, 47, is the owner of Faye’s Laundry & Drycleaning in Layton, Utah. She has held this post for the last five years.

The Company: Founded in 1968 by Petersen’s grandparents (Russ and Faye Cummings), Faye’s Laundry and Dry Cleaning has been professionally caring for the garments and household fabrics of Davis County residents for over fifty years. Family owned and operated for three generations, Faye’s is a full-service, environmentally friendly garment care establishment. Even though they use hydrocarbon and K4, Petersen said that 40% of their business is wet cleaning. In addition to expertly handling the standard basics found in its customers’ closets, Faye’s has a strong niche in the bridal industry. “What sets us apart is our ability to restore antique or older articles, especially wedding dresses,” said Petersen.

Enlarging the Territory: In August of last year, Faye’s more than doubled in size when another dry cleaner in a nearby area was looking to sell. It was also a multi-generational, family owned establishment similar to Faye’s. No one in the family wanted to continue the business, so Petersen seized the opportunity for immediate expansion and increased market share. “They approached us with the sale and we were ready to expand, so it worked out great,” exclaimed Petersen.

The Early Years: Growing up, Petersen’s first exposure to Faye’s took place when she would visit her grandparents. At the time, Faye’s had self serve dry cleaning. “It was always fun to watch grandpa count the coins from the laundromats,” recalled Petersen. “I did not know back then that this was going to be my career in life.”

Getting Started: While attending high school in Salt Lake City, Petersen’s parents (Cliff and Sharon Dutcher) decided to move to Layton to continue the family business upon Russ and Faye’s retirement. “I was devastated because I thought they were moving me to the country,” said Petersen. “And honestly, it’s only thirty minutes away from Salt Lake City, but it was a lot different from what I knew.” When Cliff and Sharon entirely took the reins, Petersen began her career in the fabric care industry by working as a counter person.

Passing the Baton: Still not sure at the time what her career path would be, Petersen was quietly groomed by her parents to continue the family tradition eventually. “My mom and dad mentored me, still not knowing I would choose this to be my career,” she said. Cliff has since retired, but Sharon still works at Faye’s every day, serving as the resident wedding dress specialist. “She does beautiful restorations of antique wedding gowns,” Petersen boasted.

Next Gen: One of the things Petersen is proud of is that the fourth generation has made its way into the family business. She is careful to point out that the “keys to the car” are not just handed over without any proper education and training. They all must begin in entry-level positions and learn the business of professional fabric care from the ground up.

Connor, Petersen’s 21-year-old son, just recently returned from the DLI Drycleaning School and has a strong and keen interest in learning all it takes to be a successful dry cleaner. He currently serves as an assistant manager, and Petersen hopes to settle him into the role of general manager eventually.

Older son Zachary is also on Faye’s payroll. “He doesn’t have the interest in running the business as my youngest son does,” said Petersen. “He does a lot of my pick-ups for me. He gets to each location and makes sure all my clothes are where they need to be.”

Leadership Style: Petersen maintains an open door policy with her staff and employees. She believes that transparency and honesty run both ways and continually tries to foster that type of culture in the work environment at Faye’s. “I treat all my employees with great respect; if you treat your employees right, they’ll treat you right,” said Petersen. “They all feel like they can come to talk to me if they’re having an issue or a problem. They are open with me, and I’m very open with them.”

Advice: Realizing that her line of work is not glamorous, Petersen loves her vocation and truly enjoys being in the dry cleaning industry. She does, however, have a word of caution to anyone thinking they can break into the business without any growing pains. “It’s a tough business. I think too many people come into the business thinking ‘I can throw clothes into a machine and take it out and press it,’” mused Petersen. “Educate yourself and make sure you know what you’re doing and know what you’re getting yourself into before you do it. It’s not as easy as just throwing something into a machine.”

Off the Clock: When Petersen is not busy hustling at Faye’s, she enjoys most of her free time spending it with family or doing yoga. A self-proclaimed “dog-lover,” Petersen also loves to relax with her two golden retrievers.

Travel time is difficult to come by. However, Petersen tries to take a “good trip at least once a year.” Last year, the whole family went to Hawaii to celebrate Cliff and Sharon’s 50th wedding anniversary. In March, Petersen and her husband accompanied Cliff and Sharon to Italy.

Personal: Petersen is married to Alex Arnold, and they make their home in Syracuse, Utah. Last month she became a proud grandmother for the first time when Zachary welcomed a precious newborn son into the world.

About John Leano

John Leano can be reached by e-mail: Leano@BryansCleaners.com or Twitter: @JohnLeano or www.facebook.com/johngleano

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