“Round Table” Business Organization Hosts 76th Annual Meeting

Nation’s Top Dry Cleaners Convene For Annual Idea Exchange

Each year, the Round Table of Launderers and Dry Cleaners convenes to learn about innovation in the industry, to address mutual concerns and to openly exchange ideas. The Round Table is an informal group of top executives from laundry, linen, industrial and dry cleaning companies, each of whom was invited to join the organization because their company has developed some of the best practices in the industry. Fifteen members of this prestigious trade organization recently held its 76th Annual Meeting in Maui, Hawaii.

The gathering featured five days of meetings covering key topics for running a successful business in today’s economic environment. Each day featured a different subject, moderated by a different industry leader. The Round Table has a unique tradition: each year, they invite guests and potential new members who present their own best practices, assuring a steady stream of fresh ideas. This year’s invited guest was Jackson, Mississippi based Hallmark Cleaners, along with a presentation from the new ownership of Red Hanger Cleaners, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah.

A highlight of the 76th annual meeting was a presentation by Tom Zengeler of Zengeler Cleaners and Steven Toltz of Dependable Cleaners. Their session focused on technology advances in the cleaning industry, along with a comparison of business models between the United States and Japan. This was a particularly timing session for Zengeler, President of the Northbrook, Illinois based company of the same name. He spent a week in Japan last November observing best practices from some of that country’s most successful cleaning companies.

During his Japan visit, Zengeler also attended the Clean Life Vision trade show, where new-age equipment was showcased by leading manufacturers of cleaning equipment. Zengeler was invited to meet with Japan’s experts because of the success of Zengeler Cleaners, the U.S.A’s oldest and largest family-owned cleaning company, and because he hosted an international delegation of Japanese industry leaders in the summer of 2013.

“The Roundtable’s 76th Annual Meeting provided great insight regarding our industry’s strategic direction from a variety of highly-successful companies,” said Zengeler. “This exchange of different perspectives will help each of us improve our operations, better meet the ever-changing needs of today’s customer and leverage advances in technology and equipment to assure the future success of the cleaning industry.”

The Round Table was founded in 1940 when Herb Koch, Lee Workman and Barrett Finn, industry leaders of that era, called for a “Sales Managers Pow-Wow,” which was held in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The meeting moved to NYC for the next five years, and became known as the Laundry Management Group. In 1950, the name was officially changed to the Round Table Conference and has remained that way ever since. Today, many  second-generation members are part of the group. The Round Table has never had a paid facilitator, rather, the responsibility is passed annually from one member to another.

For more information about the Round Table, please contact Tom Zengeler, President of Zengeler Cleaners, at (847) 272-6550, ext. 14. Zengeler Cleaners’ has eight retail locations, with stores in Deerfield, Hubbard Woods, Northfield, Winnetka, two in Libertyville, Long Grove and the company’s headquarters store in Northbrook, Illinois.