If you missed TexCare 2007 in New Jersey, you missed one of the best shows available for clothing-care businesses. Held by the National Cleaners Association (NCA) Oct. 20-21, it was a great place to renew friendships, learn about issues facing the industry, and see what’s next in equipment.
Judging from the interest at the show, tensioning equipment has finally come into its own. How can anyone argue with lower utilities, reduced training and better-looking garments?
Just 16 years after the first up-air board appeared in the U.S., TexCare was loaded with all kinds of tensioning equipment. Unipress offers a tensioning topper with a minimum of programs that’s simple to operate and sells for less than most; Trevil America offers the new Sophia for a perfect finish on Size 0 blouses and smaller shirts.
Almost every drycleaning machine manufacturer at TexCare featured a hydrocarbon (Class III-A, I should say) machine, meaning more cleaners think that perc’s heyday has come and gone. Whatever you choose in the future, chances are that it will be regulated, but no alternative will likely be as heavily regulated as perc.
One new item that generated a lot of interest was the PieceCounter by WesVic. Installed at a finishing station, the PieceCounter records and displays real-time production numbers. Varying target rates with different garments, it offers owners and managers a continuous readout of pieces per operator hour (PPOH) and lets them know whether production standards are met.
TexCare also featured a wide selection of wetcleaning machines and chemicals. Whatever solvent you use, wetcleaning is the perfect complement to it—you can clean lightly soiled “Dryclean only” garments in one of the alternatives, and wetclean garments that contain lots of water-soluble soils.
New and innovative items at the show often promised to make businesses more profitable by cutting labor, utilities or maintenance. Tonsil filter powder, displayed by Kelleher Equipment Co., Long Beach, Calif., drew interest for eliminating the hassle and expense of constant distillation. If you can eliminate the still on a hydrocarbon machine, you can also eliminate refrigeration—cutting utility costs and maintenance.
Manufacturers new to the marketplace showed what looked to be excellent products.
Among them was Gobuckson, which offered pressing equipment, wetcleaning washers and a steam-heated cabinet dryer. Hwa Sung offered wetcleaning washers and dryers, tensioning forms and toppers, and a glass-topped spotting board. Othis offered tensioning form finishers and pant toppers.
A company called QPress offered a single-buck shirt unit and collar/cuffer. Legend debuted a 42-inch manual press, an automatic legger and an air-operated mushroom press. Eun Sung had a display of tensioning toppers and forms, and a 42-inch automatic legger.
Miyata displayed a rotary double-buck shirt press that produced an excellent finished shirt. Shabondama offered spotting products for oil, protein and tannin stains. And Yac Co. showed a 32-inch utility press, an automatic legger and a tensioning pant topper that’s distributed by FujiStar.
More familiar names have upgraded their equipment lines with more efficient or
lower-cost products. Sankosha, Itsumi and FujiStar offered shirt machines; they have a loyal following and should be considered.
Pacific Steam displayed a boiler that is a marvel of engineering in an attractive, insulated cabinet. The low-NOx boiler delivers full pressure in seven minutes with a small footprint and an unbreakable sightglass.
The Compleat Education. Jason Loeb, operator of Sudsies Cleaners in Miami, launched TexCare’s educational programs with a special session the day before the show. Loeb told attendees how to brand a business by having an effective logo and making its services valuable to the public.
One of the things an operator should do is keep his advertising “real” and “true,” Loeb says. Never overpromise a customer, and always follow up with communications such as birthday cards, sale flyers, and information about convenience and quality.
He also says that a company must understand its target market. Customers can be segmented by home prices, luxury car ownership, age bracket, etc., Loeb says, and virtually all of this information is available, if you know where to find it.
GT Graphics & Marketing’s Kirsten Whitten was first on the bill during Saturday’s show sessions. She has been working on NCA public-relations programs for more than a year, and appeared to share her expertise with members.
To get press releases published, she says, put the most important information in the first paragraph; editors know that contact information will be at the bottom. Newsworthy topics might be a new business concept, environmental information, a new route service or new employees. All events are potential public-relations items, Whitten says, and most are good.
The “boilerplate” at the bottom of a release should give facts about the business such as location, specialties and where to go for more information. Target releases to the audiences you want to know about your business, she says, and get creative: Gown information can go to the local paper’s weddings editor, “Exceptional Care” releases can go a society or fashion editor, and so on.
Kelly Kelleher of Kelleher Equipment Co. followed with a talk about negotiating business sales and leases. Kelleher Equipment installs turn-key stores and often furnishes the location; as a licensed real estate broker and environmental expert, Kelleher doesn’t let clients enter leasing situations that are not in their best interests.
Look for a long-term lease of at least 10 years with five-year options, she says, or a 15-year lease with options. Make sure the options aren’t limited to the original tenant and can be assigned, she says, and don’t let the lease invalidate these options if in default. Also, make sure that the lease limits price increases to the rate of inflation.
Sunday’s educational sessions brought Richard Janik, a representative of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), to talk to drycleaners about operating permits for perc users that will expire in about two years, since perc will be banned in colocated plants in July 2009. Unfortunately, he says, the state is too broke to offer equipment-upgrade incentives to cleaners who need to switch.
Last, NCA technical director Alan Spielvogel gave a presentation on problem garments. Dye losses and transfers, dimensional changes, stiffening, and other problems aren’t going to go away, he says, and you should be ready to communicate a problem to the customer and resolve disasters.
Schmoozing The Show. TexCare is a good place to spend time with the people in the industry who supply the latest and greatest. It’s fascinating what you can learn about a person by taking a minute to visit.
For instance, Ron Shubert, who sells FujiStar equipment out of the company’s Sylmar, Calif., base, told me he started out in the industry as a drycleaner, but soon tired of supervising employees from 4:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day. So he moved to Mexico to learn how to be a matador.
After about three months’ training, he had his first bullfight. As the bull charged into the ring, he decided maybe he didn’t really want to be a matador after all. After only nine months on the job, he returned to textile care as a laundry-equipment mechanic and later, a sales representative.
All in all, Texcare was an excellent show. There was a lot of innovative equipment, chemicals, processes and ideas. It had excellent speakers, a convenient location and good opportunites to converse with other drycleaners. I don’t know what could have made it better.