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Two Tribes United.....Over Laundry

NORWICH, CONN. -- Astride mustangs, faces streaked with paint, warriors crossed the wild fields of Connecticut. The year was 1637, and the Pequot and Mohegan tribes were at war-a war that would divide them for the next three and a half centuries. It seemed nothing could remove the stains of bad memories…until 2002, when Atlantic City Linen Supply came to Norwich, CT, with soap, water, and a sparkling new business deal. "Chairman Reels [former chairman of the Pequot tribe and CEO of Foxwoods in Mashantucket] brought up the laundry, and that got my attention," says Mark Brown, chairman of the Mohegan tribe and CEO of Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville.

Although Foxwoods, which has been open since 1992, had more laundry than Mohegan Sun, whose hotel only opened in July of last year, "[Chairman Reels] is a realist and knew that we were growing," Brown explains.

Both Brown and Reels had been struggling to find a time-efficient, high-quality facility at which to clean roughly 20,000 pounds of laundry apiece, daily. Atlantic City Linen Supply, which opened a $14 million ultra-automated facility in Atlantic City in 2001, had planned to expand to serve the Connecticut casinos. "Because of our reputation in Atlantic City, they took the time to come visit us, and liked what they saw," says Victor Nappen, Vice President of Sales for ACLS.

When the laundry offered to use its extensive trucking system to transport the Connecticut casinos' laundry to and from its Atlantic City facility, both casinos agreed. It was expensive, but "there was no one in Connecticut that could handle the magnitude of our laundry," Brown says.

"We overcame the cost of transportation through cost savings in other  places," says Nappen. "We had linen controls that reduced losses through proper wash formulas, handling procedures. We do a good job the first time out."

"They wanted us, we wanted them," says David Goldberg, President/Chief Executive Officer of ACLS. With a combined total of 2700 hotel rooms (Foxwoods is slightly larger) as well as 50 restaurants, room service, banquet halls and spas, "We saw a tremendous opportunity to expand," says Thomas D'Onofrio, Vice President of Operations and Strategic Planning for ACLS

An $8 million deal was struck. The new facility would be a 35,000 square-foot version of the 63,000 foot Atlantic City plant, accessible by both casinos, located 25 minutes apart. It will also be utilized by ancillary hotels in the area: Mystic Hilton, Norwich Inn and Spa, and Two Trees. It would include space for an additional 12,000 ft. expansion.

The Connecticut facility will mimic the state-of-the-art Atlantic City laundry on a smaller scale. Using equipment supplied by PAC Industries and Yankee Equipment, the system starts with a Hercules cart dumper that automatically deposits soiled linens on an E-tech conveyor belt. Five employees will sort the linens by type (including sheets, pillows, towels and robes; spa sheets for massage tables; napkins, banquet tablecloths and environmental services cleaning materials). Everything will be automatically weighed and, once the hanging bags reach 120 lbs each, they will be lifted by hydraulics into one of two 12-pocket Milnor CBWs, two 165-lb and two 55-lb open pocket washers. From there, the E-tech system will transport the laundry through two Milnor dryer tunnels to eight 330-pound capacity Milnor dryers. A Chicago Pik-Quik robotic arm will lift the finished sheets from onto a conveyor belt leading to the finishing equipment: five Chicago irons, heaters and auto-folders.

Employing approximately 60 employees, the system will operate on an eight-hour shift, distribute 24 hours a day, and process 5,000 lbs per hour. It saves energy as well as manpower: "The continuous batch washers recycle rinse water," explains Nappen. "We also have a heat reclamation system through Kemco," adds VP of Operations Michael Greico.

And there's another kind of energy being maintained: that of brotherhood. "I see too many businesses spend more money on competing," says Chairman Reels.  "I think that we should be working with the Mohegan Sun who are our relatives, our cousins, to reduce our operational costs and increase our profit margins."

"This is a very important time," says Chairman Brown. "Either one of us could have done it alone, but it made more sense to do it together.".

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Mission Linen's Two Healthcare Accreditations

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Mission Linen Supply has received two healthcare accreditations from Healthcare Laundry Accreditation (HLAC) for their Chino, California and Phoenix, Arizona plants. The first was received in 2009 and the Arizona accreditation was received this year. HLAC inspects and accredits laundries that process healthcare textiles for hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities.