CHICAGO — Each year, American Laundry News selects a Panel of Experts, a group of individuals representing different segments of the textile services industry. These professionals and tradesmen respond to various management and production questions throughout the year. Let’s meet some of our contributors for 2011:
Commercial Laundry: Rick Rone, Laundry Plus, Sarasota, Fla.
President Rick Rone’s “quality- and service-driven commercial laundry” specializes in the hospitality industry but also has an extensive history in healthcare, he says.
Laundry Plus processes approximately 8-10 million pounds of customer-owned goods (COG) annually, employing 47 workers full time in servicing the Florida Gulf Coast and the Orlando market.
Rone’s industry experience of more than 20 years includes coin-op laundries and commercial/industrial laundering. His background is in manufacturing, where he was involved in non-union and union shops.
Laundry Plus was recently accepted as only the second Avendra-certified laundry in the United States (Avendra is the buying arm of the Marriott, Hyatt and Intercontinental hotel groups), Rone says.
“A few of the bigger challenges in the past year have been our growth from a laundry utilizing standard-type washer-extractors to a multimillion-pound facility utilizing the most current batch-washing technology, changes to the various legal parameters including the Environmental Protection Agency as well as labor, and the constant battle of proper utilization and cost control of utilities.”
Healthcare Laundry: Jesse VanOven, Greater Binghamton Health Center, Binghamton, N.Y.
Jesse VanOven’s experience includes 27 years as head laundry supervisor for the Greater Binghamton Health Center (GBHC) Laundry Services Department, in addition to four years working in commercial laundry services. GBHC is a New York state psychiatric center.
When VanOven started, GBHC Laundry Services processed 3.5 million pounds of soiled linen annually for an average daily patient census of 1,091 (including another facility served via a shared service agreement). But the decision to outsource GBHC’s laundry services was made, and on the final day of OPL operation it processed 1,500 pounds for a daily census of approximately 220 clients.
Since contracting laundry and linen services to Bates Troy Healthcare Linen Services, VanOven’s duties have shifted to managing appropriate linen inventories, monitoring the quality of linens and personal clothing items, maintaining poundage figures for monthly billing purposes, and inventorying linens in the units each day.
“It’s been a challenge adapting from managing an OPL to managing linen services, but one positive has been relocating to the facility’s largest occupied building,” VanOven says. “This enables me to monitor linen abuse and remind the abusers to utilize the products supplied for their intended uses.”
Equipment/Supplies Distribution: Russ Arbuckle, Wholesale Commercial Laundry Equipment SE, Southside, Ala.
Russ Arbuckle is president/owner of a commercial industrial laundry equipment distribution company serving most of the Southeast. It provides equipment sales, service, parts, installation and consulting services for the on-premise and vended laundry segments.
He started his laundry-industry career more than 23 years ago as a service technician for a small parts distributor in the Northeast. Eventually, Arbuckle moved into sales and became sales manager. Promotions to operations manager and general manager followed.
When new ownership took over, Arbuckle left to become national director of construction for a national chain of vended laundries, where he was involved in site selection, design, construction and commissioning of stores from Florida to New England.
Eventually, Arbuckle partnered with another longtime industry veteran to open a company in the Northeast. After five successful years, they had the opportunity to sell that business and take over territory in the Southeast.
With his partner now retired, Arbuckle and his staff of nine remain focused on “complete customer satisfaction based on a results-driven work ethic.”
Consulting Services: David Chadsey, Capital Equipment Consulting, Winter Haven, Fla.
David Chadsey’s first job in the laundry industry 27 years ago came through an employment service. Working for a leading chemical supplier helped him to understand the basics of laundry production, he says.
“After chemicals, I spent the next decade in equipment distribution, serving small on-premise laundries and independent coin-laundry operations,” Chadsey says. “Working with this group was a great training ground, not only with regard to laundry but also in learning keys to successful small-business operations.”
He then spent 13 years as a direct sales and regional sales manager for a line of large commercial equipment, working with experts in conventional wash-aisle production, tunnel washers, automation, material handling, flatwork finishing, and mechanical systems.
Today, he is managing director of Capital Equipment Consulting, which provides consulting services, project management and client representation in the purchase of commercial and industrial laundry equipment.
“Our biggest challenges center around making appropriate recommendations to clients regarding the balance between capital investment and return on investment in the unknown climate of our economic times,” he explains.
Textiles: Elizabeth Easter, Ph.D., University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky.
Returning to the Panel of Experts is Dr. Elizabeth Easter, a professor in the University of Kentucky’s Merchandising, Apparel and Textiles Department, where she has taught textile science courses since 1984.
“Since 1972, I have conducted research, and presented and published papers, in the area of laundry fundamentals,” Easter says. “My ongoing research focus is in both home and institutional laundry fundamentals.
“I also supervise UK’s Textile Testing Laboratory. It provides contractual and fee-based test-piece services for the Association for Linen Management (ALM), as well as for the textile and apparel industry in the state of Kentucky and the appliance industry.”
Since 1988, Easter has taught the Basics of Linens course to laundry and linen managers and allied tradesmen at ALM’s American Laundry and Linen College.
Long-Term-Care Laundry: Gary Clifford, Pines of Sarasota, Sarasota, Fla.
Also returning to the Panel is Gary Clifford, director of environmental services at Pines of Sarasota, a non-profit, long-term healthcare facility with 204 skilled-nursing beds and a 72-bed assisted-living facility. Its newly renovated on-premise laundry processes more than 1 million pounds of linens and personal clothing annually.
Clifford has been EVS director for more than three years and in healthcare environmental services for more than 15 years.
His first healthcare job was custodian in a Sarasota hospital, where he was responsible for removing trash, soiled linen and biomedical waste from the utility closets and other areas. After several years, he began working as a floor technician at Pines of Sarasota. The retiring EVS director suggested he apply for her position, and Clifford admits he was surprised to get it.
“It has been tremendously helpful to learn this position from the bottom up,” he says. “I was lucky enough to realize early on that every day is an opportunity to learn something.”
His laundry’s biggest challenges are in staff development and providing linen on time, in sufficient quantity, with above-average quality, and within budget. “It is always a work in progress; we are judged by the small number of complaints we receive.”