Crazy Cleanerz Laughs All The Way to The Bank with Its High-Volume, One-Price Plant, Taking The Grand Prize in The 46th Annual Plant Design Awards
Industry veteran Spencer Nix didn’t set out to build a traditional Mom-and-Pop or boutique plant. A former member of America’s Best Cleaners (ABC), a marketing consortium of high-end cleaners, he had been there and done that. “We’re skinning the cat in a different way,” Nix says. “And it works.”
What he built was a new kind of operation that offers a clear value proposition, incredible automation, massive throughput and all the customers it needs to keep the racks full — in short, a high-volume, one-price operation. “People told me, ‘You’re crazy. You can’t do that,’” he says. “And I told them, ‘Just watch me.’”
Today, that operation — affectionately named Crazy Cleanerz in answer to the naysayers—is thriving in the fast-growing Memphis suburb of Cordova, Tenn. Located on a six-lane highway with access from both directions, the 8,000-sq.-ft. plant anchors its 40,000-sq.-ft. development.
As a one-price operation, the plant sticks to the basics in many respects — it doesn’t even have a drive-thru or 24-hour lockers. These features are great draws for the traditional, midrange plant-on-premise, but that’s not what Crazy Cleanerz is.
Upon entering, customers see a spacious call office with 12-foot ceilings and six simple counters. But at the office’s left edge is huge picture window looking onto the production floor — specifically, a feeder rail that leads from the plant’s Metalprogetti assembly conveyor to its PolyPack automated bagging machine.
From this vantage point, customers can watch as the plant processes its seemingly unlimited amounts of garments — and often gather there to do so. What they’re watching is the end of a high-tech process that takes most of the guesswork out of production.
At the outset on the dry side, continuous distillation ensures that the plant’s tandem 80-lb. Columbia/Ilsa hydrocarbon machines start with clear solvent every time; R.R. Street detergents and sizing are dispensed automatically. Regular garments then move to Forenta toppers and leggers; khakis and other harder-to-finish pants go to a Sankosha tensioning topper. Hangered garments are routed to a Leonard Automatics tunnel finisher and on to the appropriate station.
On the wet side, three B&C soft-mount washers process shirts; they move to twin double-buck units and three collar/cuffers by Unipress. Petite blouses and oversized lab coats go to a Hi-Steam tensioning unit.
After inspection, employees load garments on the Metalprogetti unit, which “exracts” them onto its five arms. The garments are packed and dropped onto a Leonard transport conveyor for a trip up and around the plant to storage on one of five double-stack White conveyors.
A customized Maineline CompassMax point-of-sale system handles the hordes of customers and their tons of garments. “We usually have three to four people in line, but we move them through in three or four minutes,” Nix says. He estimates that the plant takes on 150 new customers every week.
They’re likely drawn in by the simplified pricing structure — the operation charges just $1.89 per drycleaned piece and $1.59 per shirt. Emphasizing that incredible value, the company logo features a well-dressed clown, with cents signs standing in for the Cs in Crazy Cleanerz.
In spite of its high-volume/low-price model, Crazy Cleanerz doesn’t cut corners on quality. Aided by the high-tech equipment, it produces better and more consistent garments than 90% of drycleaning operators “at any price,” Nix says. “It’s just as good as what you used to charge me $13.00 for,” one customer told him.
“Our promise is to provide high-quality garment care and prompt, responsive customer service for the lowest price possible,” the company credo reads. “We expect to build long-lasting customer relationships by satisfying the expectations of our customers and our employees.”
With a fully air-conditioned plant to satisfy the 35 employees, Crazy Cleanerz has met and exceeded expectations. “And as far as the customers are concerned,” Nix says, “I think five full conveyors with the sixth on the way speaks for that.”