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2012 Panel of Experts Ready to Answer Industry Questions (Part 3 of 4)

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(Image credit: Alissa Ausmann)

This year’s contributors introduce themselves, describe their operations, identify challenges, and list their accomplishments for 2011

Textiles: Tom Langdon, Encompass Group

I am vice president of sourcing and purchasing for Encompass Group. I have spent the past 30 years in a variety of roles and responsibilities in the textile industry.

For the last 20-plus, I have traveled the globe, extensively developing and sourcing all types of textile products. My product experience spans from retail home fashions, to protective and military apparel, and into the medical textile products area. I am experienced in woven, non-woven, and knit manufacturing techniques along with all aspects of printing, dyeing and finishing.

tom langdonMy educational credentials include a Bachelor of Science degree from the Stetson School of Business at Mercer University, along with various continuing education certificates in customs, compliance, CTPAT, supply chain management, and ISO 9000 registration. I sit on the Techtextil North America 2012 Symposium Advisory Council and chair the Medical Educational Section. I see my role on the panel as giving readers the layman’s perspective on each monthly topic and how obtaining the actual textile items is affected.

Two of our biggest challenges in 2011 were the unprecedented run-up in raw-material costs and mitigating the impact to our customers. We also were faced with some historic geopolitical changes in the world, of which the unrest in Egypt created some specific obstacles to our industry.

I was already scheduled to visit Egypt at the end of January 2011, the week before the Mubarak regime fell. I remember spending the first half of the Super Bowl on the phone with my travel agent rearranging my itinerary to cancel the Egypt portion of my trip. Later, I found out that the head of the largest government-owned textile mill in Egypt was removed from his post and arrested.

Probably our greatest accomplishment realized was in educating our customers and others in the industry on market conditions. This entailed explaining how contributing factors such as the price of cotton, energy, and currency exchange rates affect the price, quality, and availability of laundry textile products.

Encompass benefited from an intercompany market update I published monthly, which helped our sales force reach out to all of our customers as well. The price of cotton became such a hot topic at one point that it even made it on to NBC’s The Today Show.

Let’s all hope we have a much calmer and more stable 2012. I look forward to participating on this panel and appreciate being selected.

Linen Supply: Stephen Marcq, General Linen Service

I’m the director of business development for General Linen, with corporate offices and the processing plant located in Somersworth N.H. I’ve been with the company for approximately 22 years, starting as a production manager. I worked as a production and depot manager for several other companies before returning in 1992.

stephen marcqWhile most of my time with General has been on the service side of the business, I’ve done everything from load diapers (remember those?) to running the service department and then the sales department, which has given me a well-rounded background that has served me well.

Today, I work extensively with the sales and service teams to manage, retain and expand our business presence with large corporate accounts, and especially with a variety of multi-site operations, both healthcare and hospitality. Setting up various customized programs designed to appeal to the particular needs of off-site management or ownership is an accomplishment I am particularly proud of.

We have 3,800 customers in four states, serviced from our main plant and two additional service centers in New Hampshire and Maine. Our plant mix consists mostly of hospitality and healthcare business, with lesser amounts of industrial and dust control.

With both of those areas affected by the economic downturn over the last few years, and healthcare especially hit hard in the last 6-12 months, a major challenge right now is in maintaining margins and sales increases while retaining customers in an increasingly competitive, cost-conscious environment.

We have implemented route optimization software to reduce distribution and delivery expense, installed a stack economizer to reclaim waste heat, increased our sales team, set up a key/multi-site customer and corporate visit program, and have many other projects in progress or in the works.

Our mixed-plant status can be, at times, both an asset and a liability. When one segment is down, we have historically grown in another and been able to protect jobs and revenue. But gaining maximum production and delivery efficiencies can be harder for a mixed plant as well, something that we are doing our best to address.

I am honored to have been selected to serve on the panel, and I am looking forward to contributing during 2012.

Hotel/Motel/Resort Laundry: JR Norris, Delta Linen

I’m the operations manager for Delta Uniform and Linen, the largest family-owned and operated commercial laundry in Albuquerque. I am honored to have been chosen for this panel.

jr norrisThe Randall family established Delta Linen in 1948 as a small drycleaning business. The decision was made to take the business into industrial linen rental, and Delta Linen has since flourished. It now services more than 300 restaurants, casinos and fine hotels, and is growing daily. Delivering clean and wrinkle-free linen and hospitality wear with 24-hour-a-day customer service has contributing greatly to our success.

I worked as a general manager in the restaurant business for almost 20 years, sitting on the other side of the table in dealings with linen companies. This experience has helped me greatly with my transition from restaurants to linen service and having the ability to under a restaurant’s needs. It encourages me daily that Delta Linen has had the same beliefs and integrity for more than 60 years!

I have faced several challenges after diving headfirst into the linen business, but that’s been the fun part. The biggest has been working with and understanding the quality and maintenance aspects of hotel linens.

I have seen sub-par cotton quality coming from many manufacturers over the past 18 months. We have had to change several processes, including how we order and wash, to ensure the longevity of the textiles. Because of this, production has almost been more challenging than the cleaning of the products themselves.

We were blessed with continued growth this past year despite the hard economic times the country faced. We have taken on several new, large accounts, along with a new contract with a resort. And we recently renewed our contract with the largest casino in New Mexico.

We continue to strive for the best every day, with the mind-set and commitment that our service is our contract and it is as good, if not better, than a golden handshake. I intend to see that Delta Linen maintains this philosophy for many years to come.

Tomorrow: Introductions to representatives from the equipment manufacturing and chemical suppy sectors, plus a member at large...
Click here for Part 1.

Click here for Part 2.

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