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MAKING THE LEAP From Equipment Sales to Laundry Manager

SMC Textile Services in Raleigh, North Carolina has gone from 28,000 to 50,000 pounds a week and from 9 to 20 employees. “We’re at 8000 square feet,and we’re about to expand 2000 more,” half laughs owner Will Cox, as if he’s surprised to hear it himself.

A laundry veteran of over 15 years, Cox, formally with Central Finishing Systems, Jensen USA and Wink-Davis Equipment, made the jump from equipment sales to laundry owner over two years ago – and his business is growing. SMC Textile Services processes mainly hospitality linens with select linen rentals.

“We are open seven days a week, 11 months out of the year,” says Cox. “We have small prep staff that comes in at 7, and the production staff comes in at 8. On a really good day, we can have the goods out by three.” Cox’s market includes hotels, country clubs, select medical firms, health care facilities, local airlines, state facilities and specialty linens for rental companies. The laundry processes towels, sheets, table linen, napkins, pillowcases, robes, bath blankets, baby blankets, nursery work, summer rental towels for a country club, airline blankets/linens and walk-off mats. “We stay away from greasy, nasty kitchen stuff,” says Cox.

So what does a former equipment rep buy for himself? A 400-lb and 600-lb Braun three-pocket washer extractors handle the bulk processing. Smaller quantities are processed in a 125-lb and two 85 lb UniMac washer/extractors and a 135-lb and 95-lb Milnor washer/extractors. “I sold those to the former owner!” Cox chuckles.

The facility also has two Cissell 150-lb gas dryers, two Ipso 150-lb gas heated dryers and a Cissel 150-lb steam dryer. Handling the flatwork processing are a Jensen USA 1234 feeder, two two-roll Braun ironers, and a Chicago Skyline folder/crossfolder with stacker. There is also a four-lane Braun folder-crossfolder and stacker that is used mainly for small pieces and airline processing. In addition, SMC Textile Services uses two towel folders to process goods; an Air Chicago and a Jensen Jet. There is a 60-horsepower Burnham Boiler and a new Kemco direct-fired hot water system and tank “that saves me about $3000 a month in gas and labor,” says Cox adding, “And I’m one of Norchem’s first East Coast customers for chemical delivery.”

Two box trucks and two cargo trailers move goods between the laundry and its destination. Throughout the laundry, goods are moved in over 150 Diversified Plastics carts. “On a normal day, 16 people are working,” Cox says. “Four to five are in the wash room and dryer area. Three are on large pieces. Three are on small pieces. Three are on towels and one or two are in airline processing.”

To those thinking of buying a business, Cox offers this advice: “Realize quickly that your employees are your most valuable asset. The biggest kick I got last year was at the end of the year when I was able to not borrow but go straight to my bank account and give every person a Christmas bonus,” he says. But bonuses aren’t all that Cox offers his ‘laundry family.’ “We have a birthday luncheon each month. Sundays we bring in donuts and ice cream. And I’m learning Spanish so that I can tell a Spanish joke and my staff can laugh at me. It really isn’t about the money. It’s about having fun.”

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Hotel Guests Evacuated

ALCOA, Tenn. — A small fire in the laundry room of a Holiday Inn forced guests out of the hotel. The fire is thought to have originated in the dryer. There were no injuries.