- Created on Sunday, 02 May 2004 16:23
- Written by Susan Capparelle
HENDERSON, KY -- Sitex, Kentucky’s largest independently owned uniform and linen rental service has undergone yet another expansion to accommodate burgeoning business.
This April, the Henderson, KY based company moved into their new $7 million plant. This plant will process up to 375,000 pounds of laundry weekly on a single shift, with the ability to take on more poundage via extending or adding shifts, ultimately increasing their capacity 50 – 60 percent.“We went from 50,000 square feet and above average technology and equipment to 73,000 square feet and state-of-the-art technology and equipment,” explained Wes Sights, grandson of the company’s founders and Sitex president. “Roughly 90 percent of the equipment and systems are brand new.”
Sitex began in 1961 as a small uniform rental company with one delivery truck and used laundry equipment. It has expanded to include a processing plant in Henderson, KY and sales and service distribution centers in Jasper, IN, Louisville, KY and Nashville TN. Three generations later it remains family owned and run. Jon Sights, son of the original owners is CEO. Jon’s son, Wes, is president, his son, Jon, is assistant production manager and his daughter, Ellie, is customer service coordinator.
“We service basically every type of industry from heavy soil industrial garments to light soil executive wear and professional medical apparel,” said Wes Sights. “That includes everything in between -- mats, logo mats, mops, table linens and toweling, kitchen apparel, shop towel services, paper, soap, other restroom services, direct sale apparel and promotional products.” According to Sights, Sitex processes about 95,000 garments weekly consisting of about fifty percent of their business. The other 50 percent is split between linen rental, mat, mop and shop towel rental and direct sales.
For several years, plans have been underway to expand from their current 50,000 square foot processing plant to a new 9-acre property in a nearby corporate park. Groundbreaking for the all-concrete block construction was in June, 2003.
“We built the (new) plant for more capacity, better quality control, more automation,” explained Sights. “It will lower our costs, help us better serve our customers and provide us room to grow substantially.”
HOW IT WORKS
“Customer service and sales reps load their soiled goods from one of six loading docks directly into the E-Tech “load on rail” system which automatically weighs and classifies the items and takes them to the wash floor,” said Sights. There, five 450-pound open pocket Ellis washers and three 450-pound Ellis dryers begin processing the goods. “The facility has a pony section that has two 220-pound washers and two 225-pound dryers, all Ellis.” An Ellis Automated Washfloor Shuttle Conveyor moves goods from the washers to the dryers or finishing area.
E-Tech provided the soil and clean monorail sling systems, and Gartner Systems provided the Storage Rail and rolley system for moving goods throughout the plant. R. W. Martin also provided three Gartner clean linen take-away conveyor systems.
On the finishing side, equipment was supplied by R.W. Martin and Sons, Inc., C & W Equipment and Colmac. R.W. Martin and Sons supplied the new facility with a new Braun Omega 4-Lane Folder / Crossfolder and a new four lane small piece Visa accumulator. That machinery is in addition to the existing Braun Omega Folder, Stacker and two small piece folders that were relocated from the previous facility. C & W. Equipment company provided two remanufactured American Ironers. Shirts are finished using Colmac’s Triple Buck Shirt Press and industrial garments are finished through a Leonard Automatics gas heated steam tunnel which was installed on a mezzanine in an effort to keep heat off the floor where hangers / inspectors and other members work.
After leaving the steam tunnel, goods are moved through Ellis’ Smart Rail Automated Garment Sorting System which puts them in proper branch, route, and customer order using bar code and radio frequency techniques.
“We also have 3 branch relay docks used to unload and load products that go to our branch locations daily,” said Sights. “And a full garment customization and stockroom production area where new accounts, emblems, direct embroidery, and direct sale goods are produced for delivery.”
Ellis’ Ludell Water System handles the facility’s water reuse and heat reclamation.
Future plans for the facility are to reduce their 85 production employees to 64, according to Mike Harvey, Operations Manager. However, those positions will be reabsorbed in the new plant. “Positions in the washroom and garment sort will be eliminated through automation but there will be new opportunities in linen, custom apparel and sales which will mean we grow to over 85 positions,” he said.
Quick Rinse - News From Around The World
Lapauw Acquired By Private Investor
BELGIUM — Lapauw and its affiliate Lapauw France have been acquired by Mr. Philippe D’heygere for an undisclosed amount. The Belgian based manufacturer of industrial laundry equipment officially announced that it has recently sold its rights to Mr. Philippe D’heygere, a successful international entrepreneur with special interests in global expansion.
“I have worked with the Lapauw family for 46 years. Following my first meeting with the new owner, I feel very confident that this agreement will provide the experience and resources needed to expand into new markets and bolster support to our existing distributors and customers,” said Andre Henrard, Export Manager for the countries outside Europe. The current management will remain active and no personnel change is expected.
In a joint statement to their distributors, the Lapauw family announced “Mr. D’heygere has international expertise and will reinforce the position of the Lapauw Group as a successful worldwide leader of premier laundry equipment.”