Hotel/Motel/Resort Laundry: Nick Fertig, Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin, Orlando, Fla.
Let me start by saying, it is an honor to be selected for this panel.
The laundry industry is fast-paced, challenging and always exciting. I took my first job within the industry, as a junior in college, at Cintas running their stockroom and my own small uniform delivery route. Since then, I have had the pleasure of running operations in the facility service and uniform settings, healthcare laundry and, most recently, hospitality linen. These laundries have ranged in size from 10 million to 40 million pounds annually and have operated in both union and non-union environments.
I have a wealth of experience in production; distribution and service management; financial analysis; and guest satisfaction.
For the past five years, I’ve operated the laundry operation that services both the Walt Disney Swan and the Walt Disney Dolphin hotels. As the manager of laundry services for The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, I’m responsible for the day-to-day service, production, distribution, maintenance and procurement for this world-renowned hotel’s laundry and drycleaning operations.
We recently finished our first complete laundry operation upgrade since the opening of these hotels 25 years ago. The renovation saw the combining of two independent laundries into one state-of-the-art operation housed within the Walt Disney Dolphin hotel. Every piece of machinery was removed and replaced, including our boiler systems, air-handling unit and all necessary plumbing. It was a daunting project, but with the help of our partners at Steiner-Atlantic, we completed on time and at budget.
Now, my attention is directed to the same problem we all face every day: How to provide the best possible product at the lowest possible cost. I look forward to serving on this panel and providing any insight my experiences have brought me.
Uniforms/Workwear Manufacturing: Scott Delin, Fashion Seal Healthcare, Seminole, Fla.
First and foremost, I would like to thank American Laundry News for selecting me to join the 2017 Panel of Experts. For me, to be recognized and considered a member of an elite group of laundry/linen managers and industry experts, is a real honor.
Having more than 35 years experience in the textile and laundry industry, I have been fortunate to meet a lot of knowledgeable people who have taught me a lot and provided me with new insight about our industry. I am extremely appreciative of the long-term friendships that have developed and flourished throughout this journey.
Growing up in the coal region in Northeast Pennsylvania, I first got involved in textiles while working in my family’s business, cutting and sewing ladies’ sportswear. Upon graduating from Philadelphia College of Textiles and Sciences (now known as Philadelphia University), with a degree in apparel management and business sciences, I packed my bags and all my worldly possessions into my orange Chevy Monza and moved from Philadelphia to Gaffney, S.C.
There, I joined the textile rank-and-file, taking employment at Oxford Industries, a leading manufacturer of ladies’ sportswear. I was responsible for locating and developing cut-and-sew factories in the Southern states to manufacture Oxford’s line of women’s apparel. After four years of cutting my teeth and honing my skills in the apparel industry, I moved back to Pennsylvania to join forces with my father in running our family cut-and-sew operation, producing ladies’ sportswear.
As imports started to increase, more and more apparel production was moved offshore, causing stateside manufacturing to fall drastically. A decision was made to close the family business, at which time a new chapter in my life started.
I then jumped from one frying pan (working with my father) into another one—Penn Linen, Uniform & Healthcare Services (working for my father-in-law, Max Stettner). It was here that I found my passion for the commercial/industrial laundry business. At Penn Linen, we processed linen and uniforms used for the industrial, hospitality and, of course, healthcare markets. In fact, at one time we processed and rented linen to all the major hospitals in the Philadelphia market as well as parts of North Jersey.
After Penn Linen was sold, and a short stint with Unitog (eventually sold to Cintas) and then a local family laundry operator, my passion for this industry continued to burn inside. I was fortunate enough to join Superior Uniform Group, a leading manufacturer of apparel for the healthcare, cleanroom and career apparel markets, as a territory sales manager. In this position, I was responsible for working with commercial laundries and healthcare systems in the Mid-Atlantic states as well as upstate New York.
As my concentration and success in selling healthcare continued to grow, I was promoted to national market executive for Fashion Seal Healthcare, a division of Superior Uniform Group.
Today, I am proud to serve and represent Fashion Seal Healthcare, as its vice president of sales in healthcare, where I utilize my 35-plus years of experience in the laundry arena. Our team at Fashion Seal Healthcare continually works alongside laundries, hospitals and other healthcare facilities to develop successful uniform programs for their related markets that not only meet their expectations but exceed them as well.
I actively serve as a member of the Textile Rental Services Association (TRSA) Healthcare Committee and am an active member of the American Reusable Textile Association (ARTA) and its board of directors. I also serve as a member of the Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council (HLAC) Advisory Committee.
It is an honor to be chosen for this Panel of Experts, and I look forward to contributing articles as we move forward into 2017.
Textiles: Steve Kallenbach, ADI American Dawn, Los Angeles, Calif.
Our industry is a wonderful and exciting space in which to work. Over the past 39 years, I’ve met hundreds of talented, passionate, professional experts, and I have the pleasure of learning from them—new things every single day.
There’s never a dull moment, and every day something “new” comes along—whether it’s a market opportunity, a problem to solve, a new product or process, or just a fresh twist against an age-old issue. I love this industry and feel so fortunate to be able to work with all of you, every day.
Now, it is such an honor to serve on this Panel of Experts for 2017. It’s my third time, and I love it.
My business experience in our industry started at the age of 9, when I became my father’s janitor at his local garage in the Midwest. He issued me work uniforms and told me I would wear them with pride—showing up on time, buttoned up, clean and ready for important work. Given my physical size at 9, I can say without a doubt that I truly learned the importance of garment “fit” and “image” in the uniform business, and how those factors impact one’s pride at work.
Later in my life, at 21, my father’s route service representative was terminated by his company, Todd Uniform. With some family coaxing, I interviewed for that job, and the rest is history—five years on a route, the last two achieving national route rep of the year honors. Promoted on to stockroom manager, plant manager, sales manager, assistant plant manager and finally opening a new plant in Los Angeles—achieving a 50,000-pounds-per-week operating level, with profitability in the first two years.
After four years as GM, I moved to Aramark as a group GM to run its plant system in Southern California. I led a marvelous team of associates to turn around both growth and profitability with historic performance results on a 1 million-pounds-per-week, multi-plant operation.
Another five years later, I followed my passion to move to the supplier side and became a territory manager for Red Kap, quintupling my sales in just a few years. I was promoted to senior business development manager, where I was charged with developing the licensed image apparel market (mostly in the automotive markets); 35 national image programs later, representing over $500 million in annual revenues to our industry, I proudly “owned” the automotive image market, as well as opened many other licensed markets for the industry, all of which are now core products in uniforms today.
Ten years later, I asked for an early retirement from VF (with continued consulting) to start my own direct sale product company, called Image Apparel-Brand Identity Solutions, serving the middle of the market. Within one year, we had explosive growth. I sold that company to my partner at the time and moved on to a larger project.
Another partner and I started a work apparel manufacturing company called Basic Apparel, which at the time was to be the first “imported” basic work pant and shirt offering as an option to U.S.-made fabrics. That product initiative didn’t work as planned, and I exited the business after 18 months.
Just after that venture, I joined ADI American Dawn as a territory manager. Four years ago, I was promoted to its director of market solutions (CMO). Vyto Tozer (the executive VP) and I restructured the company into one pillar and now have national responsibility for the company’s corporate growth and profitability. I am honored to be a part of the ADI team, as we have quadrupled our company over the past 10 years and have extended into new and exciting market segments.
Over the past 10 years, I have also been honored to teach at the Textile Rental Services Association’s (TRSA) EMI and PMI, as well as many industry conferences, associations and collegiate settings, both inside and outside our industry. These have been fantastic opportunities to learn as well as teach.
Over these incredible 39 years, the experiences, successes, failures, regroups and sometimes just luck have given me a knowledge base that I truly hope brings value to this panel. So, in advance, I thank you for engaging, thank the rest of the panel for contributing, thank American Laundry News for hosting, and thank my company for allowing me this opportunity. They call me “KBach,” and I’ll see you next month.
Equipment Manufacturing: Tony Jackson, Kannegiesser USA, Grand Prairie, Texas
It is an honor to be selected for this panel, as I have always enjoyed the insight from American Laundry News on many topics in our industry.
I am the director of national accounts for Kannegiesser USA and have been with the company for more than six years. Our U.S. headquarters in Grand Prairie, Texas, serves as the direct sales and support of all Kannegiesser laundry equipment in North America. Working for a company with such innovative technology has had a positive impact on both our customers and my overall career experience.
The Kannegiesser factories are all located in Germany, and I have been responsible for the sales portion primarily in the Midwest territory for the U.S. market. I recently moved with my wife and son to Texas after having lived in a couple places within my territory. This recent move has allowed me to get more involved in other aspects in our business, while also focusing the efforts of continued growth in direct sales.
The laundry industry is an interesting business, and there are many great people who serve all functions. Having the ability to visit many plants on a weekly basis has allowed me to see the core challenges of each laundry and assist when possible.
On the other hand, these visits also enable individuals to show me unique solutions to a common issue, satisfying the ever-changing innovation at the plant and corporate levels.
With attending conferences throughout the year, it appears there are some similar common threads with emerging trends and ideas for efficiencies. Both the minimum wage rate and utility costs continue to climb and therefore create a necessity in an overall reduction of both to be sustainable.
Although I can assist with some issues, I feel we as a panel and laundry community will be able to help each other, and I look forward to the opportunity to provide another approach.
Healthcare Laundry: Charles Loelius, Cleantex, Irvington, N.J.
It’s an honor to be selected once again to serve on the American Laundry News Panel of Experts for 2017. I hope to be able to share the benefit of my experience with you.
I have been in the commercial laundry industry for more than 30 years, having operated healthcare, hospitality, hotel, long-term care and uniform laundries throughout the United States. These laundries have ranged in size from 10 million to 50 million pounds annually and have operated in both union and non-union environments.
I have a wealth of experience in production, distribution and service management, as well as budget preparation and financial analysis—skills honed during seven years on Wall Street.
Additionally, I have served on the faculty of New York University, teaching laundry and drycleaning operations as part of the university’s Hospitality Management Program.
Presently, I serve as general manager of the Irvington, N.J., laundry facility for CleanTex, a large regional healthcare and long-term care laundry services company.
The year 2016 was a tremendous year of growth for CleanTex, and 2017 is shaping up to be even better.
We successfully completed a conversion to solar power at our Trenton facility, along with the installation of a third batch washer and state-of-the-art steam tunnel. More projects and further expansion are on the horizon, which makes for exciting times.
Going forward, the challenges I face daily are the challenges faced by our entire industry: providing the best possible products and services at the lowest possible cost.
Miss Tuesday’s introductions? Click here to read about our other 2017 panelists.