With strict water conservation efforts, severe drought conditions, and low water supplies, a person might think twice before opening a laundromat in Palmdale, CA, located in the Mojave Desert. However if you’re Sterling Phillips, a multi-store owner and SES Laundry distributor who knows a thing or two about saving money on utilities and achieving profitability, then by all means – what’s stopping you?
The Mojave Desert has met its match
In fact, Sterling thought the desert locale was the ideal choice for his next venture, Lucy’s Laundromat, for a number of reasons. “For starters the area is spread out and attracts customers far and wide,” he began. “I liked that the existing store was large, approximately 3,000-square feet, plus it had ample access to parking, and great visibility.”
He was also keenly aware that his competitors had smaller locations, older equipment, and much less parking. Based on all the facts and his industry experience, Sterling quickly surmised that the demographics were excellent and there was sufficient demand for a new and improved laundry in the marketplace.
Great business partners – who happen to be family
Sterling credits his father, Sterling Phillips Sr., for his chosen career path. “My father was a store owner before he became a distributor, launching Sterling Equipment Sales (SES) in 1988,” Sterling shared. “As kids, my brother, sister and I would visit laundries with our father where we learned the ropes. I worked for SES Laundry and managed the stores we owned all throughout high school and after graduating from college.”
Needless to say, Sterling has been involved in every aspect of the laundry business – from cleaning, maintenance, and management, to multi-store owner and developer. “It was a wonderful experience working side-by-side, learning from my father. Of course, my kids want to be doctors,” Sterling joked.
Today, Sterling still works with his family. “As the family business diversified throughout the years, my brother moved in the direction of managing our self-serve laundries, while I took on the SES distributorship,” Sterling explained.
As a world-class distributor for the Electrolux and Wascomat brands, SES Laundry focuses on store development and retooling equipment, which includes lease negotiations and design for new and experienced laundry owners. “We count on our sister as an investment partner. Our parents still work with us, but do a lot more traveling and are really enjoying life these days,” shared Sterling. “It’s no secret – I’ve got great business partners who happen to be my family.”
With his hands-on know-how and the innovative design and equipment resources of SES Laundry behind him, Sterling began the business of re-tooling the outdated laundry into a well-lit, wide-open space that offers a roomy folding area and a large mix of machines to appeal to every customer.
“The retool was easy,” stated Sterling. “All the utilities and carpentry were in place. We just needed to paint, fit LED lighting in the walls, and install a card system and, of course, get all new equipment.”
Sterling knew choosing the right equipment mix could make or break his desert store. He also knew that Electrolux Professional coin laundry equipment was specifically designed to dramatically save on water and energy while adding to his bottom line.
Electrolux – made for the Mojave and everywhere else
“There was no other equipment considered for this store,” said Sterling. “Electrolux Professional washers offer incredible custom programming, which gives me control over my utility consumption per wash, saving me up to 30 percent on water. The G-force extraction is very important to the customer and business owner, allowing for a much faster dry time, and, again, reducing energy consumption.”
What’s more, the Compass Pro feature gives Sterling the opportunity for higher revenue. For instance, he can offer his customers special wash cycles.
“Take comforters for example,” he explained. “Customers have the option of selecting ‘heavy soil’ or ‘extra rinse’ cycle. And customers like options – they will use them. They understand the benefit of using them, the added quality it brings to their laundry experience.”
Sterling’s customers are equally as pleased with the performance of the Electrolux dryers; he is especially pleased with the equipment’s low gas consumption. “Thanks to the reversing and EcoPower feature on the Electrolux dryers, the clothes are dried in much less time with great results,” he shared. “My customers love using the machines and I love how they consistently deliver an excellent performance.”
Lucy’s Laundromat patrons appreciate that they are in-and-out – fast. “About 45 minutes to an hour, tops,” said Sterling. “It’s because more water is removed from the garments during the wash cycle and our dryers work more efficiently, drying faster. You can count on Electrolux for speed. All the equipment is built to be super efficient.”
Lucy’s Laundromat – “the best wash in town”
From the moment Lucy’s Laundromat opens its doors, excitement was in the air. “The turnout was amazing, bigger than expected,” shared Sterling. “We did a mailer and door hanger with a coupon to redeem for a five dollar laundry card. We’re a card store, so the five dollar card could only be used at my business. Then the card, with our name and address on it, went right into their wallet, becoming the perfect reminder when laundry day rolled around once again.”
People were excited for a new laundry experience, one that offered a big beautiful space with the best equipment and service in town. There is no comparison. “Our customers say that our wash and dry performance is the fastest and best,” Sterling said with obvious pride. “They love that we offer more machines, more sizes, and more options.”
And because Lucy’s Laundromat is also a card store, the competition can’t offer what it can – namely bonuses, discounts, and promotions. “I’ll continue to do bonuses and discounts because I love reaching out to new customers,” said Sterling. “The five-dollar card giveaway was a big deal. People responded to that and told all their friends to come in.”
A Laundromat designed to fit everyone’s need
The desert may have its challenges, yet thanks to Sterling’s vast experience, Lucy’s Laundromat has been designed to be comfortable and appealing in spite of drastic weather changes or water restrictions.
Since opening its doors in March 2014, a loyal Lucy’s following continues to flourish. Sterling knows that out of all the transformations the store underwent, the most impactful upgrade has been the equipment.
“I receive so many compliments on the store – how airy, clean, and safe it is – but honestly the majority of the raves are about the Electrolux washers and dryers,” said Sterling. “Customers are amazed how nice their clothes feel and that they dry so fast.”
As a longtime Laundromat professional, Sterling knows the value of choosing the right equipment. “A huge part of our success is the standout performance of Electrolux. It’s what continues to keep my customers happy and satisfied – and sharing their experience with their friends. And if there’s anything I’ve learned over the years it’s this: Your best advertisement is your customers, so treat them well. ”
In the hospitality business, many owners see only two worlds to spend money: the front of the house – amenities and features that attract and cater to guests; and that other land known as the back of the house. Most owners place these worlds in different galaxies. Raakesh Patel is not like most owners.
His Super 8 Ukiah, California property strikes a true balance between the two worlds. Indeed, Patel sees things differently, and the primary color he is focused on is green. It’s his passion to show others how eco-friendly lodging makes both sense and cents.
“Green is not just a fad or a marketing theme,” Patel said, adding that he wants to make a difference, not just at his property, but in the world. And with today’s severe drought conditions in California and many parts of the world, conserving water and the earth’s precious resources is critical.
Awarded and Honored
There are more than 7,600 properties under the Wyndham Hotels umbrella. In 2012, however, Patel’s Ukiah, Calif. Super 8 location stood out from the group, garnering the prestigious Wyndham Green Award. This award is presented to owners whose properties have made a concerted effort to engage in practices that contribute to the betterment of the planet and offer guests a green environment.
Patel’s 54-room property brings features that truly set it apart, things such as energy efficient lighting, room systems managed by occupancy sensors, and a recycling program that cut his waste bills in half. His was the first Super 8 in the Wyndham group to install charging stations for electric vehicles, a move he said raised a few eyebrows. That is until people started showing up and plugging in… and raving about the hotel online.
The property’s commitment is evident in a variety of other certifications including: California Green Lodging certification; Platinum certification from Green Business Bureau; four-key rating by Green Key Certifications; and certified gold level by TripAdvisors’ Green Leader program. Super 8 also recognized Patel’s effort by presenting him with the Spirit of Super 8 award.
“It’s an amazing feeling… I feel so honored,” Patel said. But those awards weren’t the culmination of his work; they were just the beginning. “Now I need to do something in the laundry,” Patel said of the next stage in his commitment to the environment.
The Laundry gets green
In that land known as the back of the house, the laundry neighborhood ranks as a necessary evil. Hoteliers often see it as a cost center, only drawing attention when equipment breaks down and loads are stalled.
“One of the most major expenses in a hotel is a laundry,” Patel said. So, naturally, where other owners see a drain on resources, Patel saw opportunity and one that he could make a major impact on with a green focus.
“But it has to be done right,” he added of making sure to perform research in advance of rolling new equipment and system in.
At the time, his dated hard-mount laundry equipment was giving him headaches. An expensive bearing replacement and having to re-pour the unit’s concrete pad had him wondering about a better solution. A conversation with his distributor Viking Service about new Electrolux washers and a PLUS system that eliminated large upfront capital expenditures got him thinking.
“I was wondering, how much more can I really save with new equipment,” he said of his original skepticism of bringing in new Electrolux Professional washers, and just how utilizing the PLUS industry-exclusive pay-per-use system would make good fiscal sense.
Then he started running the numbers on his costs for six to seven loads a day (more in the summer) and he was intrigued. With PLUS – Professional Laundry Utility Service – Patel simply uses the equipment as needed and pays only for that usage – no expensive linen rental or laundry contract. PLUS laundering becomes a utility service – just like water, gas, and electricity. Like any utility, you pay for PLUS only when you use it with no long-term obligation. With a lifetime parts and labor warranty, all parts and service included in the program, he was sold. That’s capital that could be better allocated in other areas of the business. In addition, PLUS systems provide Electrolux Professional laundry equipment that is designed for exceptional results, increased productivity, and the lowest water and energy usage.
A deeper shade of green
Many owners might be satisfied with a move to soft-mount washers boasting super high G-force extraction (450 G-force), which reduces energy usage and cuts drying time significantly from high-speed hard-mount washers. Again, Patel is not like most owners.
When he learned of Smart Dosing, an Electrolux Professional innovation that automatically ensures the proper amount of laundry chemicals are added to match the load size, Patel made sure his Ecolab chemicals were being managed by this technology.
Add in Electrolux’s unique Automatic Water Savings (AWS) system, which adds precisely the correct amount of water to the load size, and water consumption can be reduced by up to 50%.
Patel appreciates the fact that his hotel is partnered with a company just as committed to the environment as he is – Electrolux’s sustainability approach is world-renowned. Electrolux has been recognized by CDP as a climate performance leader, was selected for the Global Compact 100, and is a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index which includes the best-in-class environmental performers in the world. Electrolux is constantly working on reducing the environmental impact of products and factories according to the strictest standards.
The results are in
Patel sees the technology he’s employed in his laundry as the perfect recipe to deliver green results and much more.
“I have a system that accurately and efficiently adds up to great savings in dollars and very importantly, for a low impact on the environment,” he said, adding that savings are reflected in lower gas, electric, water, and sewer costs and help reinforce the Energy Star rating for his property.
Patel estimates his laundry savings total 20-25%. But the benefits are reaching much more than his utility bills. Faster cycle times in the laundry have given housekeeping staff additional time to take on other projects in the front of the house – keeping with Patel’s focus on providing the highest quality lodging experience for his guests. Guest surveys show the fruits of his labors, as the property consistently receives high marks and rave reviews online. And the laundry is a key component. Gone are the survey comments from the past mentioning rough towels that felt “like sandpaper.” Now he reads comment after comment about how soft and fresh his linens and towels are, he says.
Involved and spreading the word
Patel isn’t keeping his green initiatives a secret. As a member of the Wyndham Green Advisory Board and Super 8 Franchise Advisory Board, among other lodging associations, he is eager to share all he’s learned. “We have to think and act together,” Patel said. “I want my fellow lodging members to follow my lead; so I spread the word…by going green, save green.” To learn more about PLUS and Electrolux Professional Laundry equipment, please visit: www.laundrylux.com/plus
Reprinted with permission from American Laundry News.
Laundrylux is pleased to announce that New Jersey-based Equipment Marketers is now an authorized Electrolux and Wascomat distributor for coin and on-premises laundry equipment.
Cody Milch, VP of OPL at Laundrylux, states, “We are pleased to welcome Richard and Susan LaMaina along with the entire Equipment Marketers’ team to the Electrolux and Wascomat distributor network. A true industry leader, Equipment Marketers has a 70-year reputation for exceptional service and support. We look forward to growing the business and our relationship.”
“I’m excited to be working with the team at Equipment Marketers,” states John Olsen, VP of Vended Sales for Laundrylux. “Equipment Marketers is a professional company with an established market presence and reputation for excellent customer service. We look forward to a long and mutually rewarding relationship.”
About Equipment Marketers
Founded in 1945, Equipment Marketers has grown to be a leading distributor of commercial laundry equipment. The company provides a complete range of laundry services from site design, equipment selection, installation, preventative maintenance and on-call service.
Keith McLoughlin, Electrolux AB President and CEO, recently invited Neal Milch, CEO of Laundrylux, to Sweden for a special ceremony. On behalf of Electrolux, McLoughlin presented Milch with a crystal award to celebrate 60 years of doing business together.
“We have a unique relationship with the Milch family and Laundrylux, and it has only grown stronger over the years,” stated McLoughlin. “We value our partnership and look forward to working together for many more years to come.”
“I was honored to receive this award and have our partnership recognized in such a meaningful way,” shared Milch. “We have a great deal of mutual respect and work closely together on many initiatives such as marketing and product development. Now with my son entering the business, the third generation at Laundrylux, we will be taking our partnership to even greater heights.”
A partnership that began with an accident at sea…
To learn how this great partnership began, we have to go back to the mid 1950s. A young man with an engineering background and experience in laundry equipment sales and service was hired to assess damage to the laundry equipment aboard the Swedish American Line’s M/S Stockholm after the ship collided with the Andrea Doria, near the Island of Nantucket. The young man’s name was Bernard Milch, founder of Laundrylux.
This was Milch’s first introduction to the Swedish-made Wascator (later named Wascomat) front-load stainless steel washers. He was extremely impressed that the machines remained functional after the water-filled laundry area was drained. Milch made inquiries to the Swedish company and eventually purchased a Wascator washer for testing and technical investigation.
Milch’s testing confirmed his initial confidence in the Wascator machines. He was convinced that commercial front-load washers could revolutionize the industry. Milch obtained the sales and marketing rights for Wascator machines in North America and, since he ate lunch at the “Automat” and liked the sound of the name, decided to use the name Wascomat for marketing. He seized the opportunity and the industry was changed forever.
Electrolux, which later purchased Wascator, credits Wascomat’s growth in North America to the extraordinary marketing efforts of Milch and his team. Since then, Laundrylux has become a valued partner representing the Electrolux Professional and Wascomat commercial laundry brands in North America.
Electrolux is a global leader in household appliances and appliances for professional use, selling more than 50 million products to customers in more than 150 markets every year. The company makes thoughtfully designed, innovative solutions based on extensive consumer research, meeting the desires of today’s consumers and professionals. In 2013, Electrolux had sales of SEK 109 billion and about 61,000 employees. For more information go to http://www.electroluxgroup.com.
Laundrylux distributes Electrolux professional and Wascomat commercial laundry equipment in North America through its extensive distributor network. The company offers state-of-the-art commercial laundry equipment for the vended and OPL markets, as well as PLUS Professional Laundry Utility Service, financing, and marketing. To learn more, call (800)645-2205 or visit www.laundrylux.com.
Middlethorpe Hall in York is one of the most highly-regarded hotels in the North of England. With its enviable location consisting of 20 acres of manicured gardens and parkland, the property was originally built in 1699 and, after being rescued from decay, was restored by Historic House Hotels in 1984. In 2008, ownership of Middlethorpe Hall was transferred to the National Trust by donation with all profits benefiting the houses and the charity. Today, the venue boasts 29 bedrooms and a luxury health spa.
The modern spa is one of the major features of the hotel, with an indoor swimming pool, steam room, sauna, and gym. As hygiene and cleanliness are paramount, the hotel made it a priority to install Electrolux Professional laundry equipment, the most advanced and innovative system available. Having the laundry in-house enables the hotel to control the process and meet their highest expectations and requirements. Also, since Electrolux Professional laundry equipment uses less water and is faster drying, the hotel has increased productivity while eliminating the costs and inconsistent results of outsourcing.
Taking care of the laundry needs of guests and staff at the historic hotel is not an easy task. That’s why Middlethorpe turned to global leader Electrolux Professional for a complete solution that would meet all its requirements. The hotel opted to install a full Electrolux on-premises laundry (OPL) including:
- High-extract W4240H Washers with Automatic Water Savings (AWS). This unique feature weighs the load and adds precisely the correct amount of water — automatically – leading to a considerable savings. The large doors make it easy to load and unload and it operates at low noise levels for a comfortable working environment.
- T4530 Dryers with the ability to process two full loads per hour.
- IC43316 flatwork ironer – which can process sheets, duvet covers and table cloths, as well as napkins and pillowcases.
Lionel Chatard, Director and General Manager of Middlethorpe Hall commented: “Laundry is a priority for us. Not only do we have to ensure we clean guests’ towels, bed linen, table linens, and uniforms on a daily basis, but we also have an extremely busy spa to cater for in terms of linen and towels.
Possessing an in-house laundry gives us complete control over our linen and its quality. The smell and crispness of the linen is important to us as some laundries can produce a hospital type scent whereas we now have control over these finer details that help us to maintain the luxurious nature of our premises. The equipment from Electrolux fits our needs perfectly – we have it running for at least eight hours every day, it is easy for all my staff to use, and it performs consistently.”
Il San Pietro di Positano, a member of the prestigious Relais and Chateaux, is much more than a posh hotel, it is the emblem of exclusivity. Relais and Chateaux, established in 1954, is an association of the world’s finest hoteliers, chefs and restaurateurs – and becoming a member is quite an achievement.
The transcendental Hotel San Pietro di Positano, overlooking the bay of Positano, is a unique blend of luxury, passion, and simplicity. From the main terrace you can gaze out to the coast as far as the Faraglioni of Capri – or enjoy the breathtaking, world famous view of Positano. A perfect balance of nature and architecture, the hotel seems hidden within the mountains of the Amalfi Coast, yet the terraces unexpectedly offer an unparalleled view of the sea.
Vito Cinque, Director and Owner of the San Pietro, believes in unequivocally providing his guests with the very best of everything. “We have two restaurants: the Michelin-Star awarded Zass (nickname for my Uncle Salvatore) and the Carlino on the beach front (in honor of my Uncle Carlino Cinque, the hotel founder). For the Zass kitchen we chose Electrolux Professional solutions, and for the Carlino we went for the most prestigious Electrolux brand, Molteni. Electrolux Professional has been our only supplier for both the kitchens and laundry,” says Vito Cinque.
The beautiful Molteni suite, chosen for superior performance as well as the possibility of customization, stands in the center of a spacious room: 2,8 x 1,3 m of power and a one-of-a-kind design. With brilliant stainless steel and chrome trim, the Molteni stove was designed and built with three different preparation areas: the left side for starters, the center for first courses, and the right side is dedicated to cold dishes, salads, and desserts. For the meat and fish dishes, the unmatched Molteni Rôtissoire was the preferred choice, in black enamel, stainless steel, and chrome.
The hotel recently chose Electrolux Professional Laundry solutions including washers, dryers, and ironers, for its internal laundry operations. Electrolux professional laundry equipment is designed for reliability, low water and energy usage, long-life, and low running costs. Electrolux is constantly working on reducing the environmental impact of its products and factories according to the strictest standards – while providing customers with best-in-class laundry solutions and innovations. Champions in efficiency and sustainability, Electrolux has been recognized by CDP as a Climate Performance Leader, Global Compact 100, Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, RobecoSAM Sustainability, and was named by Forbes as one of the World’s most reputable companies.
Mr. Cinque is extremely pleased with the Electrolux products, installation, results, reliability and support. “We work especially well with Electrolux.”
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.
Roots Bistro Gourmand opened in 2012 in a unique 100 year old building that once housed a teahouse with a hidden speakeasy. Located in West Islip on Long Island, Roots Bistro is an upscale casual restaurant serving contemporary French Bistronomic cuisine to local residents as well as New York City’s Hamptons’ set. Roots Bistro pays homage to the simplicity of the modest bistro while infusing gastronomic techniques. The restaurant has 67 seats enabling them to serve between 100 and 140 meals per day.
Executive Chef Philippe Corbet has more than 10 years of culinary experience. Philippe grew up in France in a family of chefs, eventually earning his chef’s degree and graduating first in his class. He went on to work in a number of Michelin-starred restaurants. Joining forces with Corbet, Chef James Orlandi, trained at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York and worked in Michelin-starred Jean George’s restaurant. Orlandi’s passion and desire to challenge the conventional, helped forge a strong partnership between the two chefs.
All ingredients are sourced locally. In fact, the fresh, close to home ingredients drive the menu — so it’s a constant evolution. Everything served from drinks, sauces, infusions, jerky, and even the ketchup, is prepared fresh in house. Roots is committed to sustainability and takes pride in working with local farms, wineries, butchers, and food vendors.
Their vision, “to challenge traditional philosophy with rational arguments of pure creativity,” remains constant. And thanks to Electrolux Professional kitchen solutions, Roots is able to achieve this vision.
“Electrolux makes a chef’s life much easier! I can program the oven to make any recipe I want. Just press the button and it gets cooked the way I want it,” states Executive Chef Philippe Corbet. “Electrolux makes me a better chef. I can actually push myself more.”
So intuitive and simple to use, Electrolux Professional equipment helps chefs further advance their craft and hone their skills.
The Electrolux Professional solutions provided were: 2 air-o-steam Touchline 6 grid ovens; an air-o-chill blast chiller/freezer; a cooking suite (range, grill, griddle and refrigerated drawers), and a warewasher with WashSafe control.
The Residential Center “Al Parco” in Verona, Italy started its activity in 1812 as an answer to the critical need for elderly care in the city. Continuously expanding over the years, it now boasts a total of 9 facilities throughout the area, offering a combined capacity of 700 beds, hospice and other services.
The mission of the Center is to provide the best assistance to the patients, fully respecting their privacy and dignity. The only way to do this efficiently is by placing the person at the center of attention, a commitment that begins first and foremost with the special care given to personal hygiene and to their personal effects.
For this reason, the Center chose the Electrolux Professional barrier laundry solution, in order to obtain full control of the disinfection of the residents’ garments ensuring the best results.
The new laundry offers a joint service for all 9 facilities. It is organized in two completely separate areas, one for loading the dirty laundry and the other for unloading the clean, washed laundry. The two zones are divided by a glass wall for maximum lighting and visibility and separated by a “filter” zone which prevents the risk of bacterial contamination, guaranteeing a total sanitation process. This new layout not only ensures the correct flow of the operations of collecting, washing, drying and ironing but, above all, allows sorting of a huge amount of laundry in a short time.
Turnaround times were halved: washed items are returned to the guests in a shorter time;
The working environment of the operators was significantly improved: air intake/expulsion from the dryers is always external. This, in addition to the customized ventilation system, brought the ambient temperature to about 75°F with the possibility to also adjust the two areas independently;
Infection control and the prevention of cross-contamination. The Centre has full control over its linen hygiene: Not only provides risk management, but peace of mind for the patient and families.
The Residential Center “Al Parco” is an exemplary story of innovation and determination in the pursuit of excellence.