Outstanding Central Plant: DC Center Cleaners, Woodside, N.Y.
Operator Albert Lee had already consolidated production into a central plant once to handle growth, and his continued success recently forced the operation to move again. This time, the company — now one of the largest on the East Coast — faced a massive project. The 20,000-square-foot space Lee had located in Queens required a complete overhaul, but it was the blank slate onto which he could draw the plant of his dreams.
Builders excavated the dirt floors, poured 27,000 square feet of fresh concrete, and added an office. Alongside existing Columbia and Firbimatic machines, Lee installed Trevil tensioning equipment and Imesa wetcleaning units; overhead, the plant’s grid of pipes and rails builds order from chaos. Spot-cooling keeps employees comfortable, and drivers load deliveries indoors on a one-way trip through the plant. The new DC Center also includes a 51-machine coin-op laundry it uses for wash-’n’-fold service in the off hours.
Outstanding Strip Location: DryTec Dry Cleaners, Tampa, Fla.
DryTec’s new concept store emphasizes “green” clothing care from a strip location that city inspectors have called “the cleanest [drycleaning] plant they’ve ever seen,” says CEO Daniel Sefair. In keeping with Floridian custom, the 3,000-square-foot strip location features a flamingo-pink exterior with a side entrance for drive-up service, while the call office delights with sculpted walls, pendant lights and cool greens that enforce its already substantial envirofriendly positioning.
The plant runs GreenEarth in a Union machine, finishes garments on Unipress equipment, and bags orders with an automated Sankosha bagging machine and biodegradable poly. The plant is completely air-conditioned against Florida’s notorious humidity — a fact that its 12 meticulously uniformed employees appreciate. Next door, JavaTinto — DryTec’s sister business — entices customers with a full-service espresso bar, free Wi-Fi access and patio seating.
Outstanding New Build: Evergreen Cleaners, Ruidoso, N.M.
Having worked in the industry for most of his adult life, Barton Byars knew what features he wanted to incorporate into his new Evergreen plant. Adding skylights to the high ceilings of a new 3,000-square-foot metal building, he had the shell of an airy, bright plant. For the production floor, the operator drew up an open layout with a Sailstar multisolvent machine, a Fimas shirt unit, and Forenta and Sailstar presses, then backed them with rollup doors to increase ventilation and ease machinery access.
The spacious call office echoes the warm browns and sage greens of the plant’s mountain setting, and the concrete floors are stained a durable yet distinctive tan. A double drive-thru welcomes customers, and employees have access to a full breakroom and kitchen. Wanting to stay close to the business as it grows, Byars also included another unique feature — the fully equipped, 800-square-foot apartment upstairs, where he lives.