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Overturn Old Habits with New Ideas

Greg MyersSome years ago while I was serving on the board of the Southeastern Fabricare Association, we had a Member to Member program for anyone needing a little help. SEFA received a request from a couple in central Florida who needed help setting up a lot system because their assembly department was in disarray. Since they were in my area of the state, I volunteered along with two other drycleaners to help them. The night before we were to meet in their plant, I lay in bed thinking of how I would explain the lot system used in my plant. The more I thought about our system, the more convoluted and tedious it seemed. Asking myself why we used that particular system I realized the answer; "Because that's the way we've always done it." After we finished helping them with their problem, I completely revamped the lot system we were using in our plant.

I realized this is a common problem for owners who "grew up in the business", those 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation types. Back in the late '80s and early '90s, just as we started to realize the huge problems we all had with hazardous waste disposal and contaminated properties, a lot of owners of historical plants, and mom-and-pop shops decided it was not worth fighting new regulations and decided to sell while they still could. A lot of those businesses were bought by folks who had not grown up in the business.

Other than the hurdles of learning the technical side of the industry, some of these folks brought an untainted eye not blinded by decades of old habits. Today, there more non-generational plants in the industry than ever before. In my opinion, this is one of the best things that has happened to our industry in its history.  We’ve got some highly educated young people working in our business who have revolutionized the way we do things.  Things of which I would have never imagined because of my years of "experience." We've been on automated assembly for 10 years now. Not because of my vision but because of a bright young guy who knew we needed to do it sooner rather than later. And these are innovations not just in technology, but in employer-employee relations, hiring and firing practices, sales and just about every other segment of the business. I know we typically don't hire people anymore with years of experience in drycleaning because quite often those people are burdened with a lot of bad habits.

The new management group services and the resident education department at DLI are great places to witness the phenomenon. Sure, there are still a lot of legacy students learning the ropes to enter into the family business, but a greater and greater percentage are bright, hard-working people looking to learn all they can about the industry, bring their own ideas and outlook to it, and make a great life for themselves in the process.

Bravo! The drycleaning industry is dead; long live the drycleaning industry!

Posted By Harry Kimmel | 4/8/2016 7:55:11 AM