soft mount washers
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.
The Lalit Golf and Spa Resort Goa is an all suite resort nestled on 85 acres along the pristine Goan coastline.
The resort, cradled by the majestic Sahyadari range along the confluence of the Talpone River, offers breathtaking views of the Arabian Sea. With a kilometer-long exclusive beachfront, it is truly one of the most exquisite beach resorts in Goa. The resort offers 255 suites, including 10 luxurious villas, a nine-hole links golf course, a holistic spa, and six unique fine dining restaurants. It’s the perfect destination for relaxation and rejuvenation.
The partnership between The 5-star Lalit Golf and Spa Resort Goa and Electrolux Professional is a special one. This is a successful and long-standing laundry installation for Electrolux that continues to stand the test of time.
The Electrolux equipped in-house laundry handles guests’ laundry, hotel linen, staff uniforms, and spa towels. The Electrolux Professional 190 lb. washer processes more the 2,645 lbs. of laundry per day.
“Laundry service is considered the most important amongst five-star service offerings, as it meets the demand of discerning customers for better, quick and hygienic laundry. The 55 lb. Electrolux washer is one of the best, and it has been trouble-free since 2003. Two years ago we ramped up our operations with a 190 lb. Electrolux washer extractor, and we continue to have smooth laundry operations,” states Vijay R. Singh, Executive Housekeeper.
The resort is equipped with Electrolux washers and dryers, form finisher, and flatwork ironer for a complete Electrolux laundry solution.
Laundrylux is pleased to announce that Jon Gershman has been hired for PLUS National Business Development. PLUS – the Professional Laundry Utility Service – by Pluslux, is the revolutionary program that creates cloud-based laundry solutions for the healthcare and hospitality industries, seasonal businesses, drycleaners, and other institutional laundry customers. It is available currently for the on-premises market and will be introduced to the coin-op business in 2015. With PLUS, customers receive brand new Electrolux Professional laundry equipment with no capital expense, a lifetime parts & labor warranty, and industry-leading Smart Dosing System which eliminates over-consumption of water and laundry chemical resources. PLUS customers only pay for what they use, so it functions like other utilities such as water, gas, and electricity.
Jon’s main tasks are to drive growth through PLUS distributors nationwide, develop new National Accounts for PLUS in addition to prestigious PLUS National Accounts such as Hilton.
“Jon comes to us with a proven track record of building best-in-class brands as well as sales organizations,” shared Neal Milch, Laundrylux CEO and founder of Pluslux. “His entrepreneurial experience and innate sales professionalism make Jon the perfect fit for creating new strategic partnerships and driving the PLUS business to new heights.”
Cody Milch, Vice President for OPL and PLUS, notes, “We have already seen the impact with Jon on-board, and his base in Los Angeles allows us to cover a national geography effectively. We have already added two additional dedicated professionals to the PLUS inside sales team so that Jon, our Regional Business Development Managers, and myself can rapidly scale PLUS and our OPL opportunities.”
After graduating from the University of Arizona in 1998, earning a Bachelor’s degree and a spot on the water polo team, Jon began his sales career in commercial real estate, first for Insignia/ESG based in Connecticut, and then Cushman & Wakefield in New York City. While there, he also established the philanthropic Caring and Warmth Foundation, providing resources for Manhattan’s inner city public schools.
In 2002, Jon launched his first entrepreneurial endeavor – EATS.com. Serving as president, Jon helped grow EATS.com into a leading restaurant informational portal and social networking site for food enthusiasts. After being acquired by Delivery.com in 2009, Jon continued his career at the online ordering website as the vice president of sales until 2012, when he decided it was time for something new.
Staying on as a Delivery.com shareholder, Jon launched Lights In The Business, a consulting service providing high-level sales and marketing strategies for a wide range of businesses, from hospitality to consumer products. However, when he heard about PLUS, Jon couldn’t imagine a better career move.
“When I first learned about PLUS, I immediately realized that Neal Milch and I shared a philosophical vision on the future of the industry,” said Jon. “PLUS is a game-changer, offering amazing solutions and financial advantages for a wide array of businesses from hospitals to hair salons. I had to be a part of it and make a contribution. I’m excited about getting the word out and furthering its expansion.”
“I am honored to be a part of an innovative company that is expanding its product offering, merging modern technology with the needs of the customer,” shared Jon.
Jon currently lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife Andrea and his English Bulldog Carmine.
The Lefay Resort and Spa Lago di Garda in Italy is situated in the spectacular Riviera dei Limoni, surrounded by rolling hills overlooking the shores of Lago di Garda. It belongs to the prestigious Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Healing Hotels of the World, Virtuoso and Kiwi Collection, and was the first 5-Star Superior Resort on Lake Garda.
The creation of the brand Lefay Resorts dates back to 2006, with the aim of building a collection of eco-resorts based on a modern interpretation of luxury, a strong commitment to environmental sustainability, and an innovative new concept of overall wellness. The Lefay Resorts Spa combines classic Chinese medicine with Western scientific research to provide a unique environment where mind and body are rejuvenated and balance is restored.
Why Lefay Resort and Spa chose Electrolux Professional
Lefay Resort and Spa Lago di Garda was designed and created with a focus on environment sustainability, renewable alternative energies, and cutting edge technology — and Electrolux Professional is a global leader in those areas. The products fit right in line with the hotel’s vision of sustainability and 5-star service.
Electrolux Professional machines & solutions
- (2) 145 lb. soft-mount washers – W4600H
- (1) 60 lb. soft-mount washer – W4240H
- (2) 135 lb. dryers with sliding doors – T41200SL
With the help of Electrolux Professional laundry equipment, Lefay Resort and Spa Lago di Garda provides the highest quality results to their clients, as well as the fastest productivity for the rooms, spa and restaurant departments.
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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.
Right on the world-famous Dukes Golf Course and overlooking the incredible Scottish coastline, the five-star Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa offers some of the most luxurious accommodations in Scotland. The acclaimed hotel sits alongside the world-famous “Road Hole”– the 17th on the Old Course in St. Andrews.
Highly regarded among professionals and leisure golfers, the hotel is also well known for one of Europe’s most advanced concepts in total well-being, providing an unequaled spa experience. With hundreds of towels, robes, and sheets used by the on-site therapists each day, the spa’s laundry facilities must keep up with the demand and the workload to meet its required 24-hour turnaround.
The Old Course Hotel decided to take full control over its spa laundry to maintain the highest level of customer service while reducing operational costs. It recognized Electrolux Professional Laundry as the best solution provider for handing the entire scope of the project from initial stages of feasibility analysis to the final installation.
Electrolux Professional laundry solutions for the Old Course Hotel Spa
Soft-mount, high-spin Electrolux washers were matched with high-performance Electrolux dryers engineered to save water, energy, and increase productivity. Electrolux washers have unique innovations such as AWS (Automatic Water Savings) which saves up to 30% on water. Other features include RMC (Residual Moisture Control) allowing for precise control of remaining moisture in the load and reversing cylinders which reduce energy consumption and protect linens and towels from tangling and overdrying. Electrolux professional washers and dryers are designed to shorten the process while producing the highest quality results.
Maintaining highest levels of service while reducing expenses
Spa Manager Andrea Molloy is pleased with the set-up. “Having the machines on site means we can run things really efficiently. We have much more control over the prioritization of the spa laundry, which means we can be sure of maintaining our high levels of customer service at all times. Being able to save on costs is also a major benefit and means we’re able to further invest in the business.”
California hotel revamps on-premises laundry operations with new Electrolux Professional washers and dryers.
When one thinks about the highlights of a hotel property, they’ll mention amenities, restaurants, and overall service. The on-premises laundry room likely doesn’t figure into even the top 100 features. But if your business is efficiency and turning a property into the pinnacle of green lodging, the laundry room certainly might warrant top billing.
That’s just the case at the Hilton Concord in Concord, Calif. This 329-key Interstate Hotels & Resorts Worldwide property recently completed a $10 million dollar upgrade that focused heavily on sustainability. And the result is a hotel transformed into the standard for efficiency.
Lead consultant on the project, Charles Smith, CEO of Hotel Sustainability Solutions Inc. (HSSI) said that from the start, the charge was to place the property in a leadership position in terms of sustainability. And in looking at the results, the mission is being accomplished.
“This hotel is light years ahead of the competition,” Smith said, adding that the outcome is the culmination of extraordinary integration, collaboration and cooperation.
Make no mistake, this was an extensive effort and one that involved addressing all facets of the facility. It included incentives and rebates from utility provider Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), Smart Lights and Lodging Savers, as well as the Contra Costa Water District. Taking a leadership position included implementing 33 sustainability initiatives, such as replacing all 6,400 light bulbs with LEDs, adding motion sensors, swapping shower heads with new low-flow heads, adding window film to reduce energy use, a pillow restoration unit, food scrap digester and much more, even addressing landscaping and exterior lighting that utilizes LEDs and motion-sensing technology.
But whenever peers or Interstate personnel want to learn about the property, the laundry makeover gets top billing.
“The laundry really is one of the highlights whenever anyone wants to see the property,” Smith said.
Owner of Roseville, Calif-based A2Z Laundry Systems, Ahmet Ibrahim, who spearheaded the installation of cutting-edge Electrolux laundry equipment at the hotel, views this facility as the new green lodging standard as well.
“This is our model for efficiency,” Ibrahim said.
Winning the battle in the planning
As the hospitality market began to uptrend, finding a sustainability solution became ever more critical. Becoming the model of efficiency, however, would take some work. The current state of the laundry was rough. Equipment was dated and repairs were mounting…when parts actually could be found to make the fixes. One dryer even had been taken out of service. Still, laundry loads were being processed daily, but the true cost of this dated equipment soon would be uncovered.
As HSSI began the task of evaluating options, key factors considered were the efficiency of the equipment, availability of rebates or incentives, distributor/manufacturer service and support, and the ability to upgrade equipment in the future — ensuring a long useful life and thereby protecting the initial capital investment.
Though Smith looked at a variety of laundry equipment manufacturers, the goal of creating the model of efficiency guided selection. That meant choosing a brand that delivered on its efficiency claims and had the numbers to prove it.
“Electrolux played a key part in the technology,” Smith said. “They stood out in the selection of technology available…their prominence caught our attention.”
Electrolux’s global leadership is evident in it being named to the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index in 2013. It is the seventh-straight year the firm made the prestigious list, which places it in the top 10 percent of the 2,500 companies in the Dow Jones Global Indexes with regard to long-term economic, environmental and social performance.
Wash efficiency leads the way
The Hilton Concord had been using soft mount washers in the laundry and Smith was committed to staying with this product type because of its high G-Force extraction speed versus hard mounts. Soft mounts also were preferable because they don’t require an additional concrete foundation to bolt to. However, lower installation costs and high G-Force extraction would not be enough. Water conservation, utility consumption, and operational efficiency were equally important.
This is the point where Electrolux really separated itself from the competition.
Oddly enough water savings started at the drain. The Electrolux soft mount washers (two 145-pound capacity and one 60-pound capacity) Ibrahim was recommending for the Hilton featured a unique pancake drain that helps reduce water consumption during fills. The hotel’s existing units as well as competitive models on the market can waste as much as 2 gallons of water per fill because they include a large sump and drain hose in the fill. Electrolux models utilize a pancake valve to keep the fill area confined to the wash cylinder.
Considering a standard of five to six fills per cycle, savings total 10 to 12 gallons per cycle. Overall, the Hilton Concord is saving 192,960 gallons of water annually in the laundry. When added to the savings realized through guest room improvements such as low-flow shower heads and toilets as well as other conservation efforts at the property, water savings total more than 525,000 gallons per year.
On the drying side, an agreement was reached on five 83-pound capacity Electrolux dryers to replace the dated complement of two 150-pound and two 110-pound dryers. Though drying capacity went down, the speed and efficiency of the Electrolux dryers combined with the high extract G-Force of the washers enable the laundry to process more loads per day (9.78 loads versus 7.81).
“The overall result of the higher extraction rate allowed us to go with smaller dryers and really spread out the loads,” Smith said, adding that the additional capacity contributed to reaching the goal of greater operating efficiency — making staff more productive.
Electrolux’s moisture sensing technology, which enables the units to dry to a set moisture retention level and then shut off the heat, further increased efficiency.
With the majority of a laundry’s gas consumption coming on the drying side, this is where the Hilton Concord saw a huge reduction in utility usage and costs. Combined with the 90 percent reduction in hot water usage, the laundry is consuming almost half the Btus as it did with the old equipment.
“There is a dramatic drop…Btus are so much lower and there’s a huge amount of savings,” Ibrahim said, adding that the laundry will see roughly $8,400 in gas savings annually. He pointed out that the Electrolux dryers derive their efficiency advantage from a unique horizontal airflow pattern as well as their reversing cylinder — a standard feature on 120-volt units, which is an industry exclusive.
Linens benefit from the reduction in drying time. The drying process degrades linens, causing them to wear out faster. So because more water is spun out in the washer and ozone injection opens linen fibers, only short dry cycles (or conditioning cycles before linens are ironed) are used, linen life is extended. Table linens even go directly from the washer to the ironer, with no drying necessary.
And all this improved efficiency on both the wash and dry sides equates to a startling reduction in electrical consumption. The laundry is using about a third of the electricity as it did before the retooling.
Savings such as these, however, are only part of the green story. Because of the involvement of water and utility entities, $135,360 in rebates and incentives have helped offset purchase and installation of new laundry equipment and other efficient products, systems and technologies.
Adapting the process
Smith is careful to point out that, while the Electrolux equipment takes much of the risk of operator error out of the equation, retraining staff is integral to maintain efficiency.
“The biggest challenge was re-educating people. We had to break some bad habits,” Smith said.
Part of that retraining includes weighing loads to make sure employees always are utilizing the full capacity of machines. Washers and dryers that are underloaded waste utilities and that cuts into the efficiency of the operation. In addition, staff also was taught that a little bit of moisture is OK for linens; they don’t need to be bone dry.
Manivone Khangsensing, Executive Housekeeper at the property is quick to point out that the retraining, coupled with the ease of operating the new Electrolux equipment has been well received by staff.
“People liked that we lightened their burden,” Khangsensing said of ridding the laundry of manual overrides and training employees to trust the advanced software technology. “It provides for ease of operations; there’s nothing complicated about it. The reaction has been very positive.”
Much of that positive reception stems from the operational efficiency of the laundry versus lower productivity with the old equipment. Capacity is much improved with the speed, efficiency and reliability of the Electrolux washers and dryers, which eliminate worker stress. Plus the work environment has been improved with Cree LED Troffers strategically installed where equipment is located.
Advice for others
For hoteliers pondering similar projects to increase the overall sustainability of their operation, Smith stresses taking time upfront to focus on planning. He recommends carefully analyzing the property to determine where the greatest efficiency may be gained. Then, it’s a matter of investigating the potential to offset upgrades through rebates and incentives.
“Sometimes you wouldn’t move forward without a rebate. It’s an integral part,” Smith said.
When it comes to the laundry, obviously equipment that reduces water and utility consumption is the key focus, but Smith also recommends not to take efficiency boasts at face value. Review and analyze numbers. However, his experience may save some time in auditioning manufacturers.
“I think you have to take a serious long hard look at what Electrolux brings to the table,” he said. “If you’re looking for sustainability, you have to look at Electrolux.”
Smith added, that In today’s technological revolution, it is important to select products and systems that can be upgraded within the expected life cycles of ownership. Electrolux’s commitment to those upgrades garnered the attention of the hotel’s management.
Finally, he advises that a strong warranty on equipment is important and it must be backed by excellent support from the local distributor and company — both are areas where A2Z Laundry Systems and Electrolux have shined in helping the Hilton Concord’s on-premises laundry room become a highlight of the property’s sustainability efforts.
“The retrofitting of the laundry room was a much-needed and important part of our sustainability platform,” said Jack Hlavak, General Manager of the Hilton Concord. “Uptrending in the hospitality market necessitated a higher commitment to the guest experience…we are now delivering the pinnacle of linen quality and that is showing in our improved guest satisfaction ratings here at the Hilton Concord.”
To learn more about Electrolux Professional Laundry equipment, please visit www.laundrylux.com