Five Stars. It’s a term reserved for the finest of restaurants. It’s the rating synonymous with the most luxurious of hotels. It’s the phrase film critics unholster only for the “Citizen Kanes” of the silver screen world. No doubt five stars is the ultimate measure of quality…the best of the best.
That was the driving force for John Pinnock in developing his Baltimore-based Laundry City business.
“I wanted this to be a true five-star laundromat,” Pinnock said. And don’t try to sway him that the terms “five-star” and “laundromat” historically have not been paired together. Pinnock knows the traditional view of laundries as dark and dingy was a major hurdle, but he wasn’t backing down from his charge.
“My goal was to change the mentality… to make this a place people want to come to and stay,” he said.
Educated in laundry at an early age
One could say Pinnock’s vision for the laundry started at an early age, or at least he understood the need the business is based on. Attending a boarding school, it was incumbent upon students to look their best, and clean clothes obviously were a major part of that.
“It was always important to have clean clothes. It was ingrained in me at a young age,” he said.
While the seeds of the business may have been planted at a young age, they didn’t fully take root until a couple years ago…and germination is a process the certified arborist knows a little something about.
“I’ve always been fascinated with the laundry business,” he said, adding that what he found attractive is that it doesn’t come with the labor headaches most other ventures do.
“I’ve been in my own business for 30 years and the biggest challenge is always labor.”
In planning his top-of-the-industry store, Pinnock knew he had to have the laundry equipment to deliver five-star results, and that was a no-brainer.
Growing up in Jamaica, he was quite familiar with the Electrolux brand and its reputation for quality. Pinnock, however, performed his due diligence and had many in-depth conversations with current store owners about their experiences with Laundrylux and Electrolux. Machine quality and efficiency was a huge part of the equation. The other half was if the brand delivered on its service promise. Pinnock was happy to find out, it did.
“They have a culture of customer service that puts me at ease,” Pinnock said. But the Electrolux brand brings much more to the table.
“No other brand compares to Electrolux Professional,” shares Pinnock. “The innovation, quality, and reliability are incredible. In addition to the text messaging, Electrolux washers have a unique feature called Automatic Water Savings (AWS) that automatically adds the correct amount of water to match the load size. This saves me over 30 percent on water.”
The game changer
So what does Laundry City, the store billed as five-star facility, look like? Well for starters, it’s big…10,000 square feet big!
Within that celestial body of space is a 250-square-foot kids play area and of course, 300 Electrolux Professional washers and dryers. The laundry’s lounge features classy elements never seen in this industry, such as a coffered ceiling and crown molding.
And while plastic furniture may be fine for a one-star facility, “The World’s Cleanest Laundromat,” as it states on the building, boasts leather furniture inside its 400-square-foot adult lounge. Pinnock felt it was important to “take it up a notch” and create a sizable quiet, warm, inviting area for customers to gather and utilize Laundry City’s free wi-fi.
Add in large flat-screen televisions seemingly everywhere you look, and it’s clear Pinnock was fully invested in his effort to make this a premiere destination.
“I wanted to take the chore out of the laundry task,” he said.
Powered by technology
Laundry City also puts advanced technology to use to further meet customers’ needs. Electrolux Professional washers and dryers have unique features engineered to reduce water consumption and gas usage, while delivering the best wash and dry results in the shortest amount of time possible.
That customer experience is made even easier with Text Messaging technology. With this innovative Electrolux feature, customers can start their washer and are free to walk away to run errands or just relax. The washer will send them a text message when the cycle is nearing completion.
If you’re still not convinced that Laundry City’s commitment to customer servic, is close to five stars, think again. This store clinches a five-star rating with chauffeur service. That’s right, Laundry City offers shuttle service from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day. And if it’s not enough that drivers will pickup and dropoff customers, they’ll even help them cart their laundry in and out of the store.
“It’s very well used,” Pinnock said, “we have three drivers and the shuttles are running virtually nonstop.”
It’s clear Pinnock takes great pride in not only providing his customers with exceptional laundry service – he also gives back to his community. The store partners with homeless advocates to provide free wash and dry services, while also underwriting neighborhood cleanup activities, and sponsoring youth sports teams.
With his commitment to the city of Baltimore, it’s only fitting that dignitaries such as the Mayor, Congressmen, and members of the business community were on hand, along with representatives from Laundrylux and Electrolux, for a five-star grand opening and ribbon cutting.
For Pinnock, it was gratifying that the community has backed his vision.
“I was happy to see a strong turnout from the community,” he said, adding that it was a reflection of the city’s support from the start of his investment in the neighborhood.
In the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains resides the little French town of Perpignan. As a traveler to this quaint Ville,
founded around the 10th Century, it might surprise you to find, nestled amongst meandering lanes and stately old-world mansions, a store that’s thoroughly modern with a decidedly American twist. It’s a laundromat called Mr. Bubble’s Laverie.
Mr. Bubble’s Laverie is the brainchild of husband and wife team, Kurt and Kiki Drimmel. Kurt, a United States citizen, and Kiki, who originally hails from France, had previously called San Diego, California their home. Yet as they began discussing their semi-retirement options, and how best to enjoy a slower pace of life, Kiki and Kurt kept circling back to the same conclusion – returning to France to open a laundromat that offered American amenities.
“We’ve been returning to France every year, since 2004,” Kurt shared. “It’s hard not to fall in love with the people, food, and the beautiful places this country offers. It was our dream come true to make this move happen as soon as we did. And, we never looked back.”
Newly transplanted yet not new to the laundry business
The couple arrived in Perpignan, located in the South of France, in April 2014, and after five months their search for the ideal laundromat location was underway. While Kurt might have been newly transplanted, he wasn’t new to the laundry business. Back in the States, Kurt worked for one of the premier Electrolux professional brand distributors in Southern California – Mike Hurrell at Golden State Laundry Systems.
“Mike has an obvious passion for the business, said Kurt. “He taught me a lot about the coin laundry and on-premise market, and about the Electrolux brand of professional laundry equipment.”
Kurt spent several years with Mike at Golden State and then went on to work as an independent consultant for his own company, San Diego Coin Laundry & Equipment Sales, under the Golden State Laundry Systems umbrella. “I’ve been in this business for over a decade and must have visited every store in San Diego County many time over,” mused Kurt. “It was the best way to know my local market and learn the intricacies of the industry.”
Putting his extensive knowledge to work for Mr. Bubbles Laverie
Having assisted several of his Californian clients with the process of opening a new store, retooling an existing store, or just purchasing equipment, Kurt was confident he’d be able to secure the right location for his store in his new hometown. With a little help from a great broker, he and Kiki did just that. “The area is called Las Cobas, a neighborhood of Perpignan, and it’s steeped in history and culture,” shared Kurt. “The store is in a small strip center surrounded by apartments as well as small shops and restaurants that offer prime storefronts and steady traffic flow.”
What’s more, the closest laundromat to their location is about two miles away and is in need of a retool and some tender loving care. From day one, the couple knew that this Las Cobas locale had all the makings of a premier laundry spot.
Keeping this in mind, Kurt wanted to act quickly and begin formal lease negotiations, even though he wasn’t fluent in French. “I’m currently in school twice a week to fine tune my language skills,” said Kurt. “I may not be fluent—yet. But I do fairly well.”
However, Kiki is fluent and was very much on board. She was also a fast study, learning all she could about the business from Kurt as well as from her own due diligence. Ready to step in, Kiki lead the negotiation with great success. “She was amazing to watch!” exclaimed Kurt. “So poised, so knowledgeable… I am truly grateful to have Kiki as my business partner.”
Yet in light of their industry acumen, the pair still recognized the importance of having a reputable local distributor by their side. “As a longtime laundry professional, I know what a tremendous job it is to launch a laundromat,” he shared, “so many details to consider, from construction, to purchasing equipment, to creating a marketing plan. I knew we needed guidance; a trusted advisor who lived here and knew the ropes.”
Not knowing exactly who that would be, Kurt called someone a world away – John Sabino, the president of New York-based Laundrylux, the sales and marketing arm for Electrolux Professional Laundry systems in North America.
“I can’t think of anyone more well-informed than John,” stated Kurt. “And we can’t thank him enough for putting us in touch with Isabelle Lefevre, the regional Electrolux representative. We found Isabelle to be knowledgeable and professional. She really listened to what my wife and I wanted to accomplish with our store.”
The obvious equipment choice for Mr. Bubbles – Electrolux
Naturally when it came time to purchase equipment for their Laverie, Kurt and Kiki chose Electrolux. “Having sold Electrolux and competitive products for years, I already knew—from its energy efficiency to its durability, Electrolux was the highest quality equipment out there,” shared Kurt.
Another significant detail about Electrolux equipment is its ability to handle larger-size loads quickly. “The key for us is to cater to the people who wash their bulky bedding and comforters,” assessed Kurt. “Very few people have the capacity in their home units to wash large items, and only 15 to 20 percent actually have dryers in their apartments.”
French consumers are also keenly aware of the Electrolux brand. “When we’ve mentioned in passing that we’re installing Electrolux equipment, the response was overwhelmingly positive,” said Kurt. “People instantly recognize the brand and that it’s synonymous with quality.”
Electrolux is a global leader in developing sustainable “green” commercial laundry equipment. The washers and dryers are designed to increase productivity while lowering water and energy consumption.
For instance, Electrolux washers come standard with features such as Automatic Water Savings, which determines the weight of the load and adds precisely the right amount of water. The results can be seen in lower utility costs and a superior wash experience.
“The washer’s High Spin 450 G-force extraction is another fantastic and unique Electrolux innovation,” said Kurt.
Electrolux washers, as well as its dryers, come with the Compass Pro microprocessor for easy programming and more than 20 languages. Compass Pro also makes the equipment extremely user friendly. “My wife and I are available to help our customers, but the machines are very easy to operate,” said Kurt, “very intuitive.” Custom programs such as “comforters” or “uniforms” can easily be added to meet your customers’ needs – and there’s a real-time clock for promotional and time of day pricing.
Electrolux dryers are also built with time and energy savings in mind. “EcoPower technology automatically lowers the heat when the laundry is dry,” explained Kurt. “I think that’s remarkable. It keeps turning so the laundry does not wrinkle, saves clothing and linens from over-drying, and saves us money on our utility bill.”
“Time does seem to move more slowly in France,” Kurt continued, “however, I know our customers appreciate the faster dry time. And we can’t say enough about the significant cost savings. ”
Small by American standards, yet above average in France
With Mr. Bubble’s equipment choice firmly in place, Kurt and Kiki hired Mr. Bouzakri, an expert in building Electrolux-equipped laundries throughout Europe. “Mr. Bouzakri and his company Blue Concept have been instrumental in optimizing the layout for the store,” shared Kurt. “He and his employees drove an hour and a half each way to build our store. Their attention to detail and dedication to our project has been stellar.”
With the square footage coming in at right around 800, Mr. Bubble’s Laverie is small by American laundromat standards, yet above average in size for France. “The biggest changes we’ve made were removing several walls to give the space an open feel and paying attention to the lighting creating a bright, welcoming environment,” said Kurt.
Mr. Bubble’s now boasts a simple layout that is highly functional – washers in one row, dryers in the back section of the store, and a payment system that’s centrally located. A tidy gathering of table and chairs create a comfortable and inviting space for patrons to relax as they wait for their laundry. Other amenities include soap and candy vending machines, free Wifi, and a full video security system.
Mr. Bubble’s Laverie is attended at all times by either Kurt or Kiki or both. “It’s always nice to see the friendly face of an owner on site,” said Kurt. “We want our customers to feel welcome and offer any suggestions they might have for additional services.”
Not your typical French laundromat
With its larger-sized Electrolux equipment, being fully attended, and offering special services like Fluff & Fold, Mr. Bubble’s is making its mark as “the laundry with the American twist.”
“Our customers are excited by our American wash-dry-fold services,” said Kurt. “It’s a concept they know nothing about here and it’s really taking off.”
As for marketing, in addition to a more traditional advertising campaign such as distributing flyers with a coupon for a free dry and giving away Mr. Bubble’s tee-shirts and pens, Kurt and Kiki is putting some new ideas to work. “We are partnering with the local bakeries to do coupons for a wash and baguette special,” shared Kurt. “Plus a local news station is interested in sharing our unique ‘Americans open a new laundromat in France” story.
Kurt and Kiki’s mission is to be the laundry that other laundromats aspire to be. “Our keys for success are simple,” stated Kurt. “Keep our laundry clean, be open on days that the others are closed, offer innovative services, and provide exceptional customer service.”
Looking forward to the New Year ahead and some words of advice
Kurt and Kiki have accomplished quite a lot in the eight short months they have lived in France. Their best advice to anyone opening a laundromat here or in the United States is: Do your homework about the industry and your location; and while you might get some equipment cheaper up front, don’t discount the fact that you get what you pay for.
“We were presented with several brand choices,” said Kurt. “Yet we knew with the Electrolux products, the equipment would suit our customers’ needs and give us the benefits of long-term utility savings and durability. Plus time is very important to customers and to us. When doing wash-dry-fold with Electrolux machines, we can get the laundry washed AND dried in 45 minutes… ready to serve the next customer!”
The couple is very excited to provide Mr. Bubble’s customers with a much needed state-of-the-art laundromat with many conveniences. “We want our customers to come and enjoy their time at Mr. Bubble’s doing something they really don’t like doing,” said Kurt. “Our store is quite special. It’s unlike anything else in town.”
Kurt and Kiki believe in their store so much that already they are thinking of opening additional Mr. Bubble’s locations. “Our last piece of advice is never be afraid of taking risks,” Kurt summed up. “You just never know what you can accomplish.”
Click here to learn more about Mr. Bubble’s Laverie.
With five competing laundries in the Tacoma, Washington area, Susie Boyd knew exactly how she was going to make her laundromat, Mr. Bubbles, stand apart from her competitors and win over clientele – by creating a sparkling clean laundry environment.
Susie’s ideal laundromat vision came to her quite effortlessly; she just kept on thinking – what kind of place would I want to would to do my laundry in?
“That was the easy part,” shared Susie, “I would want a good location with ample parking and the best equipment, of course. I also would want a laundromat to have a comfortable atmosphere, friendly customer service, and to be clean.”
Retooling instead of building from scratch
After looking at more than 20 stores, Susie chose the perfect one that held true to her vision of the right location with lots of parking. It also came at the right price. “I liked the idea of retooling an existing store since it would be less expensive than building something new,” explained Susie. “Most of the utility work was already in place, plus, it had a small but solid customer base so the ramp-up time would be shortened as well.”
Susie gave the store a complete overhaul – from replacing all the outdated equipment, to installing energy efficient lighting, to altering the layout of the 2,000-square-foot space to maximize every inch. “We needed to accommodate the larger Electrolux Professional laundry equipment and make better use of the space,” said Susie.
In addition to the super-fast and superior cleaning and drying power of Electrolux equipment, aisles were opened up, and a roomy folding area was created. The picnic-bench seating lends just the right touch, creating an appealing ambiance while giving customers plenty of room to sit and read, or take advantage of the free Wi-fi.
Now, just how clean is clean for this former owner of a commercial janitorial company and self-proclaimed “clean freak?”
“Well, I’ve installed hand sanitizers throughout the store,” chuckled Susie. “And I guess you could say our motto is ‘Always Be Cleaning’. I’ve personally trained our attendants to keep the entire store spotless at all times, ensuring a fresh, clean space for our customers.”
The perfect marriage – a mix of industry expertise and, well, marriage
As a first-time store owner, Susie knew she needed a laundry expert to help her re-tool and re-launch her store. She also knew exactly who to turn to – the 22-year veteran in the self-service laundry business who just happens to be her husband – Rich Boyd.
“Rich has designed, installed and sold some of the finest large coin laundries in Southern California and Arizona,” said Susie. “He also ran an office in Albuquerque primarily selling OPL washers and dryers to the hospitality industry, so even if Rich wasn’t my husband, I’d be breaking down doors to work with him. His working knowledge about choosing the right equipment mix alone is proving invaluable to the success of Mr. Bubbles.”
And how was it for Rich working with his wife on the creation of Mr. Bubbles?
“We make a great team,” said Rich. “Susie’s heard me talk endlessly about the laundry business for years and has seen many of the new stores that I had a hand in building. Actually, her commercial janitorial company was responsible for many of the new-store clean-ups. Susie has an excellent understanding of this business and was clear about what she wanted in her laundromat.”
It comes as no surprise that the only laundry equipment choice for Susie and Rich was the Electrolux professional brand. “I could not be an Electrolux and Wascomat distributor, much less recommend these products to my wife of all people, if I didn’t believe they were absolutely the best washers and dryers in the business,” said Rich matter-of-factly.
Susie couldn’t agree more. “We didn’t even discuss it, we didn’t have to,” added Susie. “Electrolux Professional laundry equipment has a proven record in durability and offers the largest energy savings. Choosing Electrolux equipment was by far the easiest decision we had to make.” Electrolux washers are the most innovative on the market with Automatic Water Savings (AWS) for lowest water consumption and Compass control for easy programming.
For dryer selection, the couple went with high-performance Electrolux Stack Dryers. “The Electrolux dryers have a larger capacity than competitive models,” shared Susie. “They use less energy and dry faster. The reversing cylinders also reduce energy consumption, and protect against wrinkling and tangling.”
The Electrolux dryers also come with a unique innovation called EcoPower, which can save you up to 15% on gas. This unique technology determines when garments are dry and then automatically lowers the dryer temperature. With EcoPower, there’s less wear-and-tear on garments and no over-drying. Electrolux Professional stack dryers also have the best lint filter in the industry. “Our attendant pulls the filter forward and gently swipes his or her fingers across the lint filter,” said Rich. “That’s it. It’s amazing that something so small can be such a huge time saver.”
Another easy equipment decision for Susie was installing a card system that works with all payment types. “Some of our competitors have card-only equipment, which isn’t a convenient option for every customer,” said Susie. “Mr. Bubbles has a loyalty card just like the competition, but we also accept credit and debit cards, and, of course, coins.”
Susie knew her husband wasn’t the only family member she could depend on to make Mr. Bubbles a success – she knew she could count on her son, Wesley, as well.
“Actually, he was the main reason I wanted to get into the laundry business in the first place,” shared Susie. “Wesley is 17 and has a brain disorder. As a parent of a special needs child, I regularly found myself thinking about his future.”
Susie wanted Wesley to be financially secure, but more than that she wanted him to enjoy his work. “Don’t we all want that?” posed Susie. “Wesley has a loving spirit and an outgoing personality. I felt that this business would be a wonderful fit for him.”
Wesley helps Susie empty lint filters, refill the snack-vending machines and, his all-time favorite task – sort out the bills from the change machine. He also takes great pleasure in talking to his customers. “I’m so happy he’s learning so much and having a good time doing it,” said Susie, smiling. “We go to the store every Sunday. It’s become our family tradition.”
After Wesley completes his schooling in the next few years, he’ll begin working full-time at Mr. Bubbles. One day, he will be its owner.
“I feel so blessed to be his mom,” shared Susie. “I learn from him every day. Wesley keeps me grounded and focused and has given me courage to take on any challenge, like opening a laundry.”
Leaving her competitors in the dust
Since renovating and reopening its doors in February 2013, Mr. Bubbles has experienced astonishing growth. “We just past 500% of what it was doing before we took it over!” exclaimed Susie. “And I can still recall the excitement of Grand Opening day.”
“We ran a month-long special discount on our washers, which proved to be a big hit,” said Susie. “The store was bustling thanks to Google Ads, a social-media push, and good old fashioned word-of-mouth. We also mailed out 2,000 preloaded loyalty cards to people who lived in neighboring apartment buildings.”
However, the most gratifying experience for Susie was donating preloaded loyalty cards to a local church to distribute to those in need. “The biggest benefit in giving back is that is makes my heart feel good,” shared Susie.
Today, the response from the community continues to be overwhelmingly positive. So much so that Mr. Bubbles recently received the 2014 Best of Tacoma Award in the Laundromat category.
Each year, the Tacoma Award Program identifies local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and community. These exceptional companies help make the Tacoma area a great place to live, work, and play.
“With five laundries within a mile of each other, being selected for this award was an incredible honor for us,” shared Susie.
Susie is beyond pleased that her cleaning obsession, as well as the superior Electrolux Professional laundry equipment and friendly service, are being so well received. “I think we’re on to something here, she shared. “ I am so looking forward to what comes next.”
Ontario Laundry Systems, long-time distributor of Electrolux Professional and Wascomat commercial laundry equipment, is happy to report record-breaking sales and attendees at their Annual Open House and Product Show this past October.
“Our efforts and hard work were rewarded by the exceptional efforts of Team Laundrylux,” shared Ian Gibson, Director, Ontario Laundry Systems. “They helped take our show over the top — it was our best show ever! I don’t believe that any distributor of any brand in the laundry industry ever received the support we received from the exceptional professionals at Laundrylux.”
This was a very special show indeed. In addition to tremendous sales on Electrolux, Wascomat, and Crossover equipment, Ontario Laundry Systems held seminars and service schools, and served delicious food. To celebrate 50 years in business, Ian Gibson also had a prize wheel which generated a lot of excitement.
“We wish Ian and the entire Ontario Laundry Systems team another 50 years of success!” shares John Olsen, Laundrylux VP Vended Products. “We thank everyone at Ontario Laundry Systems, and family and friends that helped out, for making the show such a huge success.”
Thanks also to the Laundrylux team in attendance for all their hardwork and support: John Sabino – President, John Olsen – VP Vended Products, Robert Chateau – Regional Business Development Manager, Dawn Nagle – VP of Creative / Marketing Director, Angel Vasquez – Regional Business Development Manager, and Michael Martino – Director of Financial Services LFS.
Quote Posted on Updated on
As you leisurely indulge yourself in a microbrew and a Panini, made with goat cheese from Portland Creamery, you receive a text message announcing your laundry is done. Glancing around the retro-mod lounge you just might have to remind yourself, “Oh right, I’m in a Laundromat.” Obviously this is not your typical college-town Laundromat – this is Spin Laundry Lounge.
Located in Portland, Oregon’s Historic Mississippi District, Spin Laundry Lounge encompasses everything owner and founder, Morgan Gary, originally had in mind when it came to putting her, well, unique spin on the laundry business. “My goal was to redefine the Laundromat,” explained Morgan. “And a big part of that was creating a community space that functions as more than just a place to wash and dry your clothes.”
Warm and inviting
Stepping inside the 5,000 square foot space, you can feel the warmth of Spin’s open and bright café environment inviting locals to stay awhile; take in a Blazer’s game on the high definition projector or check emails, thanks to free wifi, whether you’re doing laundry or not.
Spin’s café / bar menu boasts a selection of coffee, tea, beer and wine, pastries, small bites, and fresh salads – all made with ingredients sourced from local farms and companies. “We’ve also partnered with a local company called Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade,” shared Morgan. “Ground Kontrol provides Spin with a few arcade games.” Right now Spin customers can enjoy a timeless game of Ms. PacMan on the mezzanine level.
While the circa 1951 warehouse building where Spin is housed offers up an unhurried atmosphere and tons of character, such as the 1-ton Shepard overhead crane, customers will find there’s nothing slow-moving and vintage about Spin’s ultra energy-efficient and water-saving Electrolux Professional laundry equipment.
“In the end, sustainability was always my main focus,” shared Morgan. “From the Electrolux Professional washers and dryers, to the eco-friendly products and cleaners, right down to the local and organic food and drink in the café – Spin is as green as can be.”
A focus on sustainability and making an impact
Morgan always knew she wanted to make a lasting, positive impact on the environment and her community. She had been working in management for a while when she decided to head to business school. “I had always dreamed of starting my own
company,” said Morgan, “and the laundry business seemed like a perfect fit because typically it’s an industry where lots of water, energy and chemicals are being used.”
In 2012, she graduated with an MBA in Sustainable Business, and, what’s more, a comprehensive business plan. “My final project was a 100-plus page business plan on how to make my efficient and inviting interpretation of a Laundromat a reality,” said Morgan. “I studied trends, visited stores in the area, and read every book I could find about Laundromats and the laundry industry.”
She also kept a running list, jotting down every idea that could make her Laundromat distinctive and sustainable. “From wine tastings, to donating clothing (that was clean and folded) to area shelters, to using compostable to-go containers, to installing energy-efficient lighting – my list kept right on growing,” joked Morgan. “That’s when it really hit me that the laundry industry could greatly benefit from a new way of thinking.”
The dream takes off…
With her redefined Laundromat model firmly in place, Morgan now focused on connecting with the right laundry distributor – one who felt as strongly as she did about sustainability. She found such a partner in Lisa White, owner of Absolute Laundry Systems.
“Lisa, her husband, Scott, and the entire team at Absolute Laundry Systems are incredibly knowledgeable about creating stores built on sustainable business practices,” explained Morgan. “Lisa helped me with everything – lease negotiations, design and layout of the mat, construction, training, even finding the ideal location.”
After a year of searching high and low for the right building and neighborhood for her brand new Laundromat, Morgan fell in love with the “amazing old warehouse building” that Spin now calls home. “It was perfect!” exclaimed Morgan. “In addition to the parking lot, the space offered up plenty of on-the-street parking – and was surrounded by like-minded green businesses.”
It was also close to busy downtown Portland, college campuses, and many older and newer efficient / LEED certified apartment buildings. The renovation from warehouse to Spin Laundry Lounge took approximately four and a half months. “From day one, Lisa and Scott were invested in my business; they cared and wanted me to succeed,” shared Morgan. “Even after our doors opened, their expertise and support continues to be invaluable. What I appreciate most about them is that they really listened to what I wanted my Laundromat to be.”
And the number one way to create a distinctive and sustainable laundry…
Remember Morgan’s extensive laundry list of cool features and sustainable items? Well, topping her list was having “the most energy efficient laundry equipment in the world.”
“That would be the Electrolux Professional 450 G-force soft-mount washers,” said Morgan. “It has a unique feature called Automatic Water Savings (AWS) that automatically adds the correct amount of water to match the load size, which is incredible. The water saving is up to 30 percent!” 450 G-force extraction removes more water, which in turn saves time and energy in the dryer.
The speed of the cycles was also very important to Morgan – and her customers. “Most of our customers are shocked and excited to find out they can complete up to eight loads of laundry in one
washer and dryer in as little as 45 minutes.” Plus, Morgan is mighty pleased that she’s able to save on utility costs and pass on those savings to her customers.
Spin – A New Way to Laundry
Ever since opening its doors in March, the community response to Spin has been overwhelmingly positive. “Customers love the complimentary sanitizing rinse, and all of our Nellie’s All Natural Laundry products,” shared Morgan. “And that they can get all of their laundry finished – washed and dried – in only 45 minutes. They also enjoy the atmosphere and the fact that they can order a coffee (or beer!) while they wait.”
Perhaps one of the biggest satisfactions for Morgan is being involved in the daily operations of her store. “I wanted to change people’s perception that ‘laundry day’ had to be this monumental time-consuming chore,” said Morgan. “Looking around at my customer’s faces, I can honestly say that I’ve absolutely changed their laundry experience for the better. And that feels great. Mission accomplished.”
“Electrolux professional equipment helped turn my vision into a reality. Our customers are able to save time and money, reduce their carbon footprint, and enjoy every minute of the redefined Laundromat experience.”
“With the advantages Electrolux brings with energy and water savings, the equipment quickly pays for itself.”
Gary Slizgi and his wife, Marty, discovered that drop-off laundry could be much more than just an additional income source. With the right plan, it could be a primary revenue generator. The couple built their second store – Lucy’s Fluff and Fold Laundromat & Drycleaning – located in Orange County, California, with that service as the focal point.
A key element to their business approach was Electrolux Professional Laundry equipment. “Electrolux’s high-speed extract is important to me,” Slizgi said. “It reduces drying time and gives me a significant advantage.”
Savings also come courtesy of Electrolux Professional’s Compass control, which delivers excellent water conservancy and flexibility. This feature is not to be minimized, as Slizgi said, “we’re out in California and water is not cheap.” Electrolux washers also come standard with AWS (Automatic Water Savings). With every wash cycle, AWS determines the actual weight of the load and adds precisely the correct amount of water. This can save you up to 50% on water.
Electrolux dryers also come standard with EcoPower which senses when the load is dry and reduces the heat – saving you up to 15% on energy and with less wear and tear on clothing. All this technology, and the operational savings it brings, made Electrolux the only choice for Mr. Slizgi.
Mr. Slizgi got his start in the vended laundry business in 2006, when he purchased a 2,000-square-foot store in Huntington Beach, California. Once he re-tooled the laundry in 2010, in just three years, the first Lucy’s fluff-and-fold business grew 25 fold (excuse the pun).
Site selection gave the 2,400-square-foot store an excellent opportunity to benefit both business elements. The new laundry sits on the edge of lower income neighborhoods, while close enough to draw drop-off traffic from nearby high-income sections. In addition, the area is growing as office buildings continue to sprout up.
Boasting an industrial look and the latest Electrolux Professional equipment with CCI payment system, customers find a full range of wash options all the way up to the 75-pound capacity H-Series soft-mount units.
“With the advantages Electrolux brings with energy and water savings, the equipment quickly pays for itself.”
Slizgi added that he was impressed by the service he received from his Electrolux Professional laundry distributor, Stanton, Calif.-based Sterling Equipment Sales Inc., who worked with him for over a year to ensure a flawless design and smooth startup.
With a proven business model, paired with the speed and efficiency of Electrolux Professional laundry equipment and a commitment to giving back to the community, Lucy’s successful second location has started out on the right foot and continues to grow.
Electrolux has published the annual Sustainability Report for 2013, highlighting a new target to halve the Group’s CO2 impact by 2020 compared to 2005.
The report, available here, focuses on how the business strategy and the approach to sustainability are intertwined.
“At Electrolux we want to deliver smarter, more resource-efficient solutions to more people around the world. To make this kind of positive difference every day, sustainability has to be fully embedded across our organization and right at the core of our business strategy,” said Keith McLoughlin, President and CEO of Electrolux.
Addressing energy constraints, maximizing product efficiency and reducing carbon emissions are top management priorities. The new carbon target to halve the climate impact by 2020 compared to 2005 will cut greenhouse gases from approximately 50 to 25 million metric tons in four key areas: product use, manufacturing, transport and elimination of gases with high global warming potential. Click here to read more.
Other report highlights:
- A review of Group’s sustainability strategy, now in its fourth year, and targeting three main areas: Products, services and markets, People and operations, Stakeholders and society.
- An illustrated overview of the Group’s value chain, providing a helicopter view of where impacts occur, which partners need to be engaged, and how the greatest value can be created for Electrolux and its stakeholders.
- With sharp focus on areas within human rights, Electrolux is working harder to align new acquisitions, such as in Egypt, the Ukraine and Chile, to our high Group standards. Click here to read more.
Have you ever walked past a downtown coffee shop and glanced in the window? What did you see? A counter full of people perched on stools staring back at you. So why, in our industry, do we think our customers should sit with their backs to the window and stare in? Is watching a stainless steel cylinder spin our unmentionables in soapy water that interesting?
These are the types of questions Colleen Unema asks. The answers, and in some cases a lack of decent answers are the foundation for how she built her Bellingham, Washington-based Q Laundry. Yes, retirement may have taken Unema, a former teacher, out of the classroom, but that doesn’t mean her thirst for learning stopped…or that she might not be poised to teach the vended laundry business a thing or two.
Scientific approach… proper investigation and research
Unema didn’t jump quickly into the coin laundry business. No, this nationally certified science teacher formed her hypothesis, questioned, researched, and interviewed over the course of two years.
“We never came across a ‘game over,’” she said of not finding a sticking point in her business plan, which started with an exit strategy first.
Along the way, Unema crunched numbers, talked with industry veterans, and studied the competition. She also stressed how important it was to surround herself with good people, those who forced her to be firm in her plan and numbers. She jokes that her brother, a CPA, and a “conservative” one at that, “holds me to the fire” on pro forma projections.
Electrolux distributor, Rich Boyd, owner of SeaTac,Washington-based CESCO Laundry Systems, was another of her team of trusted experts. “He is much more than our consultant; he has become a trustworthy friend,” Colleen shared. “We leaned heavily on his advice, recommendations and insights.”
The culmination of best practices – and something completely different
When it came time to put her plan to action, Unema adopted industry best practices, and as the “Monty Python” show used to say, “…and now for something completely different.”
So in an industry as mature as ours what could possibly be new? Well, you won’t find a 50-inch HDTV…or any TVs for that matter.
“We have a great sound system,” Unema said of letting her music soundtrack set the atmosphere of her 3,000-square-foot laundry. But that’s not where the atmosphere stops.
Forget about those tired, old drop tile ceilings, boring white walls, and cold lighting. Q Laundry features natural wood, warm colors, and complementary lighting. How about that hole in the wall that an attendant peeks out from? Not here. At Q Laundry, the service counter is an attractive, sweeping, focal point.
“It’s artistic and crafty…it’s not what everyone would do,” Unema said. Very true. Not every store boasts a custom chandelier from Italy hanging above the front counter.
“I wanted to raise the bar and create a whole new laundry experience – and Electrolux was the perfect partner to help make that happen. It’s important to me that my customers know we chose equipment that is not only innovative and produces great results, it fits with our community’s philosophy on sustainability,” she added.
The ABCs of community and custom
Bellingham is an outdoorsy community situated 90 minutes north of Seattle and about 45 minutes south of Vancouver, Canada. There are a lot of rentals within a mile of the store and houses within the community are mostly small. “You can’t really get big machines in most of the homes around us, so our laundry comes in handy,” explained Unema. The store is near a big university and two community colleges as well.
This is the type of place where the term “green” means something to people. So when word spread that Unema was installing a laundry that wasn’t just “green” in name, but had ultra-efficient Electrolux Professional laundry equipment to be green in practice, people wanted to be part of it.
How else do you explain a man stopping in during construction to tell Unema one of his cedar trees fell over and he was going to use the wood to make her custom coffee tables and stools…for free? Or the concrete contractor who decided stained concrete would work well with her store’s color pallette and did the staining work for free?
Clearly, there was a buzz in this small community well in advance of her grand opening.
“People just want in on this,” Colleen shared. “There’s a lot of satisfaction in building this business and serving my community.”
Plenty of other custom elements await the Bellingham community. A local sail-maker is creating custom bags to fit Q Laundry’s carts, while folding tables feature solid butcher block tops.
What Q Laundry customers won’t find much of is plastic. Those stiff, slippery plastic chairs that are almost standard issue for many laundries have been replaced by comfortable wooden stools.
The green machines
Unema explains that machine selection was one of the first decisions she made. And this science teacher wasn’t going to be fooled by green claims. The company she chose wasn’t just going to be efficient it was going to be dedicated to manufacturing in an environmentally sustainable manner.
“I’ve been watching what they do,” Unema said, adding that Electrolux’s role as one of the most sustainable companies in the world is impressive. Every year since 2006, Electrolux has been named sector leader in the prestigious Dow Jones Sustainability World Index for long-term economic, environmental, and social performance. Equally impressive, however, is the company’s track record of customer satisfaction, durability, and world-class products. “I wanted a machine that’s going to last 15 years or more.”
Q Laundry offers customer 39 washers, ranging from 62 and 45-pound capacity solid-mount units to ultra-high 350 G-Force extract soft-mounts in Energy-Star rated 18-, 25-, and 45-pound capacities. Eighteen Electrolux 45-pound capacity stack dryers complement the washers. Even the installation of the washers veered from the norm. Those with a keen eye will note there are no chases — those narrow walls that run from the ceiling to the bulkhead to house utilities. CESCO installed the equipment with utilities hidden in the floor and bulkhead.
“I’m really proud to offer the community the Electrolux products I have!” Colleen exclaimed. “Whenever I’m asked the question ‘what makes your store green,’ the answer is simple: It’s the machines. The Electrolux models use less water and less energy – plus they dry faster, which my customers appreciate. Electrolux delivers on its promises and I couldn’t be more satisfied.” Rebates the business received for installing the efficient products are a testament to their green status.
Elevated customer service
Those arriving at Q Laundry with baskets and bags of bulky items to wash will find unique amenities to help them efficiently accomplish their task.
Unema programmed her Electrolux Professional washers with special cycles for materials like Gore-Tex, fleece, nylon and canvas. She added a roll up overhead door for ease of loading and unloading. With Bellingham being a hub for outdoors activities, she also created a unique drying area that utilizes a hanging metal frame for hoisting laundered tents for drying. The space has floor-to-ceiling tile and two large fans to make short work of the drying process. It’s the perfect spot for really tough clean-up jobs.
Customers are also treated to free wi-fi access and a store that is fully attended. In addition to offering drop-off service, once a week Q Laundry hosts a professional to perform alterations.
“Go big or go home,” Unema joked of her approach to the business, including a heavy focus on marketing to the community.
With Q Laundry’s location in a busy strip mall that’s anchored by a Trader Joe’s, the store is sure to see ample traffic and excellent visibility. There is also a large university and two community colleges nearby.
“We have a great neighbor in Trader Joe’s, an amazing and supportive community, and a great landlord,” Unema said. “Top that off with Electrolux Professional equipment and we have a real recipe for a sustainable and successful business. We are thrilled to be part of it all.”
Introducing Electrolux Professional’s 135 lb. capacity washer – largest coin washer in the industry.
Electrolux Professional’s new 135 lb. capacity commercial washer is making quite a splash in the coin laundry industry. Global leader Electrolux showcased this new model along with the entire Professional Line 5000 at Clean 2013.
Electrolux’s 135 lb. capacity washer is built tough to withstand the abuse of a coin laundry. At 220 G-force extraction more water is removed resulting in faster drying, saving time and energy. It’s perfect for large family loads, camping gear, rugs, comforters, sports uniforms, and more.
“It’s a great addition to my laundromat business,” shares Barry Carter, Oakley Coin Laundry. “There are many large families who use it regularly for their everyday laundry. As seasons change, a whole house of bedding can be washed. I remember one customer who washed 12 comforters in one load. Another washed 17 sleeping bags after a youth retreat – all at once. It’s also great for sofa cushions and dog beds. On occasion, we even have some hotels using it when their own commercial washers are down.” As a distributor and coin laundry owner, Mr. Carter knows laundry equipment and the laundry business inside and out. It’s a great testament to the product that he installed the Electrolux 135 lb. capacity washer in his store and is extremely satisfied with its performance.
Electrolux introduced a number of intelligent features and unique innovations to the new Professional Line 5000 products. The 135 lb. capacity washer (W5600X) is equipped with Compass Pro, the new microprocessor with up to 55 programs, 15 custom programs, 20+ languages, USB in front for easy accessibility, detailed user statistics, and real time clock for time of day pricing, happy hour pricing, and promotions. There is a Sanitizing Rinse feature that customers appreciate – you can even generate additional income by charging for it. Options include Voice Guidance and Text Messaging systems.
On-premises laundry operations can also benefit from its large capacity, fast service, and superior results. The OPL Electrolux Professional 135 lb. capacity washer uses the same Compass Pro controller, custom programs, and Start Smart – the ability to set your washer to process the load in the morning before your staff arrives. When the laundry room operators arrive, the wash is ready for the dryer saving time and increasing productivity.
Electrolux Professional announces Energy Star® qualification on larger models, providing customers with more solutions and greater flexibility.
New ENERGY STAR qualification demonstrates Electrolux Professional’s continued commitment to sustainability and energy efficiency.
Electrolux Professional Laundry, distributed in North America by Laundrylux, recently announced that its range of High Spin Washers which have earned Energy Star ratings has now been increased to include washers up to 45 lb. capacity.
Energy Star is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Established in 1992 to help save money and protect the environment it provides customers with guidelines on energy efficient products and practices. The strict conditions that a product must fulfill before qualifying for the government-backed label are reliable insurance that the product contributes significant measurable energy savings.
Reducing energy consumption and pollution while strengthening the economy are compelling ambitions of the Energy Star program. By producing equipment that fulfills all the Energy Star specifications, Electrolux Professional meets these ambitions and is therefore not only passing energy savings on to its customers but also actively taking part in reducing greenhouse gas emission thus contributing to important health and environmental benefits on a global scale.
Smart, green and economical
The Electrolux High Spin Washers (H series) have been shaped with contributions from users and experts in the professional laundry field all over the world. Their insights and know-how helped drive improvements in laundry equipment mechanics, ergonomics and design all the while ensuring energy-efficiency and sustainability.
“We are very proud that now an even larger range of our laundry equipment solutions is part of the ENERGY STAR® program” says Esther Staskiewicz, Head of marketing at Electrolux Professional (Business Unit Laundry Systems). “As part of our company philosophy we invest significantly into sustainable product development leading to exceptional solutions that are environmentally friendly and save our customers up to 70 percent on utilities.”
Electrolux’s High Spin professional washers combine technology with green thinking and low running costs. Durability, robust construction, and high performance set the machines apart. They are designed to respect the environment at every point of production usage and disposal. Products are built to be 95% recyclable. All of these factors exemplify Electrolux Professional’s commitment to continued sustainability.
Electrolux H-series provides your laundry with real savings and improvements in three crucial areas: time savings, enhanced economics, and flexibility.
- Time savings: Electrolux’s High Spin Washer can complete a wash and dry cycle in less than 50 minutes without compromising the quality of the wash results. Coin laundry customers appreciate the time savings and superior results, coin laundry owners have the ability to serve more customers and generate more business, and on-premises laundry operators save time and money while increasing production.
- Economy: Its unique efficiency means using less water and energy for wash and dry cycles. This can help lower laundry operational costs by up to 70 percent while cutting the environmental footprint. Automatic Water Savings (AWS), unique to Electrolux Professional washers, adjusts the water level to the weight of the laundry, meaning up to 30% in water savings for half load, as well as energy savings since less water needs to be heated. Another unique Electrolux feature, Eco Power for dryers, measures when garments are dry and automatically turns the heat down to the cool-down temperature, resulting in up to 15% in energy savings. In addition, Electrolux Professional dryers come standard with reversing cylinders which also speeds up the drying process, saving time and energy.
- Maximum flexibility: Ergonomics, performance, safety, and labor effectiveness are key factors in Electrolux designs. The user-friendly Compass Pro® interface is intuitive, intelligent as well as easy to use, and available in 20+ languages. Compass Pro® is the intelligence inside the H-series washers that enable Electrolux to provide customized laundry solutions for every kind of business including vended / coin laundries, hotels, hospitals, firehouses, schools, nursing homes, restaurants, sports teams, and more. There are up to 55 programs available, of which 15 are customizable. The Compass Pro® interface also features a USB port to facilitate installation of the latest software updates and a real-time clock for time of day pricing or delayed start (Smart Start).
Want to learn more about Electrolux Professional H-Series washers and how they can help you lower your expenses and improve your profitability? Click here to read an article about Connie Ihrke, owner of Belmont Coin Laundry. Her utilities are only 9-11% each month and she saved more than $25,000 in construction costs by installing Electrolux soft-mount H series models.
Electrolux Professional is a leading global supplier to the hospitality, healthcare, and vended / coin laundry industries providing professional kitchen and laundry equipment solutions. With the most comprehensive range of machines for food preparation and preservation, dishwashing, and professional laundry systems, Electrolux is a brand synonymous with reliability, innovation and sustainability. It has 90 years of experience and a portfolio of products designed according to the strictest quality, safety and sustainability standards. Electrolux Professional is recognized worldwide for its social and environmental performance and its product lines meet and exceed international standards. In 2012 Electrolux Professional had sales of about $900 million, approximately 2,600 employees, 7 factories, over 1,000 distributors and almost 2,000 service partners located in more than 70 countries. For more information, visit the web site: http://www.electrolux.com/professional