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Laundry Blossoms In The Desert

Planted just outside the shimmering border of America’s playground for grown-ups, Las Vegas, the Mission Industries laundry, serving mega resorts, is blossoming in the desert. Mission Industries’ roots date back to 1935, when founder George Ben Page rowed a boat out to speak with the admiral of the U.S. Naval Fleet anchored off Santa Barbara with the goal of talking the admiral into awarding him the fleet’s laundry business.

Since then, Mission Industries has been establishing branches throughout the West. Their Las Vegas operation was opened in 1945 to handle the expanding needs of hotels, motels, restaurants and gas stations in this flourishing post-war tourist mecca.

Today, privately owned Mission Industries operates three plants in Las Vegas, with a combined total of 355,000 square feet of production space. James B. Page, chairman of the board, owns the operation, which he runs along with D.W. Doc Wiener, president and COO, and an experienced team of officers and managers. They currently service 85 percent of the Las Vegas resorts, from moderate to “mega” in size, accounting for more than 90,000 guest rooms, and 75 percent of the restaurants, both inside and outside the resort venues.

An affiliation with a new resort often begins well before the bricks-and-mortar stage. Engineers from Mission participate in the design stage of the hotel, with emphasis on the docks and bays needed to optimize anticipated linen pickup and delivery schedules. Some of the resorts are so large that Mission’s trucks need to make 8 or 9 trips daily. When a Mission truck arrives at a hotel, it leaves a trailer filled with clean linen and hauls away a trailer filled with soiled linen. The trailers left at the dock are emptied and filled, 24 hours a day. Mission trucks run seven-days-a-week. Similar attention is paid to the smaller hotels, as well as their many restaurant accounts. In all, fifty-two vehicles…28 semis, 16 bobtails, and 8 step-vans…comprise the Mission Industries fleet servicing the Las Vegas area.

“We incorporate the latest technologies,” states Jim Page, “to make sure we take advantage of cost saving developments in our operations. We go to the equipment exhibitions, such as the ‘Clean’ shows, and also have our own engineers working on new methods of efficiency. We also visit equipment-manufacturing facilities in the United States and Europe, following those visits with visits to other laundries to see the equipment in action before we commit to a large-scale purchase. Right now, our operations use the least amount of chemicals and energy per gallon and less than one gallon of water per pound of linen in our tunnel washers.”

Among their three Las Vegas facilities, Plant #10, with 100,000 square feet of production space, is under the watchful eye of Regional Director Miguel Montenegro. This plant is designed primarily for room linen and it produces 4 million pounds per week. Equipment includes nine Lavatec continuous batch tunnel washers, each with sixteen 110 pound load compartments. These are linked by conveyors and computers to thirty-three Lavatec 220 pound dryers. Fourteen, 450 pound Lavatec washer/extractors are used for rewash and short batch runs. In this and the other plants, folding is handled by Consolidated folders and ironers used are Super Sylon and HyPro-American. Two TEA (Thermal Engineering of Arizona) direct contact exhaust-stack economizers and a 600 boiler-horsepower waste water heat exchanger in this plant contribute to a cost-saving 1.45 Therms and 5.39 kW for every 100 pounds of linen washed. Mission’s own engineers, using a computer aided design (CAD) system, designed
and built their own overhead rail system for transporting slings of soiled and clean linen throughout the plant.

Due to the location of the Mission laundries, there is a keen awareness of water conservation. All of the laundries use about six million gallons of water a week and of that amount they recycle about 17 percent from the tunnel washers back to the conventional washer extractors.

At plant #44, 85,000 square feet of production space is dedicated to the food and beverage linen flowing in from Las Vegas restaurant customers. Here, team members with the “fastest fingers in the West,” according to Regional Director Jorge Medina, are folding and tying bundles of napkins and tablecloths that are sorted by size, type of fabric, and colors that appear to include every shade in the rainbow.

“Actually,” says Mr. Medina, “ a black-and-white combination of tablecloths and napkins is currently the favored motif in many of the upscale banquet rooms in Las Vegas.” In spite of the heavy volume…one million pounds weekly moving through this plant…very careful attention is paid to maintaining a lint- and dust-free environment. Preventing white specs on black or other colored table linen is part of quality control at Mission Industries. Equipment here includes seventeen washer/extractors from Washex, Ellis, Lavatec and Brim, with capacities up to 900 pounds.

Just down the road, in Mission Industries’ plant #50, 170,000 square feet of space is dedicated to processing hotel room linen and resort uniforms at the rate of 4 million pounds a week. Five110 pound Lavatec tunnels handle the bed linen and a Jensen Senking 200 pound CBW handles the terry, producing altogether more than 27,000 pounds of bed linen and terry per hour. Also in this plant, 9
Lavatec, 2 Brim and 6 Milnor washer/extractors wash in the neighborhood of 100,000 uniforms a week. These garments range from those worn by waiters and servers to kitchen staff, housekeepers and maintenance crews. Towels, washcloths and bath mats are sent via overhead negative air ducts to 18 separate stations under electronic control where team members who are part of that “fastest fingers in the West” designation fold, tie and pack bundles of textiles into carts for delivery to the shipping bays. Tickets containing information on the textiles packed, and corresponding customers, travel with the carts.

“We have a very close management/employee relationship,” says Mr. Page. “After all, we’re competing with other laundries, as well as all the casino hotels, for quality people. This causes labor rates in Las Vegas to run 25 percent higher than in California’s major cities. It is important that we have the best employees, and hold on to them. Some of our people have been with us for thirty years and productivity is running at 183 pounds of linen per operator hour. That’s more poundage per operator hour than any other published facility number that we know of.” Not only is personalized teamwork practiced within Mission Industries’ plants, it’s also part of their relationship with their customers. Account executives from Mission work inside the larger hotels to help maintain quality control, assure smooth operations and respond quickly to any problem that might arise.

Mission is currently breaking ground for a professional dry cleaning/ laundry plant specializing in fine linens that require hand finishing. This facility is scheduled to open in February 2003.

As for “trends” occurring within such large laundries as Mission Industries, Jim Page and Doc Wiener note that automation is becoming even more critical, especially in light of increasingly more expensive wage packages. Also, because of Mission’s extremely heavy volume, they are moving toward the installation of a co-generation system that will use natural gas-powered engines to generate electricity for the plants. They will then use the resulting heat for the hot wash water and eliminate costly boiler systems.

From all aspects…customer base, poundage, equipment, transportation, human resources…Mission Industries is not only one of the biggest laundries, it is using its resources to be at the cutting edge of the industry well into the future.

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

LAUNDRY FIRE – Guests Evacuated

CHEEKTOWAGA, NY — A fire in a Days Inn laundry room forced guests to evacuate the building during the evening hours. The fire which began in a dryer was contained to the laundry room and there were no injuries.