Panel of Experts

(Image credit: Alissa Ausmann)

You are here

2018 Panel Ready to Share Experience, Unique Perspectives (Conclusion)

Meet this year’s experts in ‘other institution’ and healthcare laundries, chemicals, textiles

Other Institution Laundry: Todd B. Jenson, Ramsey County Correctional Facility, Maplewood, Minn.

I have been reading American Laundry News for the last 10 years and have learned so much from the articles and past Panels that to be chosen to be on the Panel of Experts is indeed an honor I do not take lightly.

I began working at the Ramsey County Correctional Facility in 1993. In 1995, I started working part-time as the laundry officer, and in 2006 was promoted to the full-time laundry supervisor.

Our OPL processes approximately 800,000 pounds of laundry annually (depending on populations) for four county correctional facilities. These facilities include the Ramsey County Correctional Facility (550 beds), the St. Paul Law Enforcement Center (575 beds) and two juvenile facilities (25 and 50 beds).

My experience in laundry stems from a rather odd situation. I was placed in the laundry as the laundry supervisor/corrections officer but knew nothing about laundry, let alone processing it. However, one day there was a man placed on my crew who had 40 years of experience in the laundry industry, and he taught me so much that laundry, and the processing of it, became interesting to me. 

Through my searching for more laundry knowledge, and the prodding of my supervisor, I joined a professional Association for Linen Management (ALM) chapter, the Upper Mississippi Valley Association of Institutional Linen Management, and have never regretted it. The knowledge I have gleaned from these laundry professionals over the years has been priceless.

In February 2015, through the ALM, I received my CLLM certification. I also had the privilege of attending the production and operation phase of the Laundry and Linen College in the fall of 2016.

My biggest difficulty is performing my laundry supervisory duties while staying aware of my correctional officer duties. I have learned some tough lessons over the years I have worked in this environment, but have also experienced some very rewarding ones as well. However, many people have taken time out of their busy schedules to graciously and patiently guide me through every obstacle I have faced, and my hope is to do the same for someone this year. 

Thank you again for this opportunity. 

Healthcare Laundry: Richard Engler, John Peter Smith Health Network, Fort Worth, Texas

I have been the textile processing department manager of the Tarrant County Hospital District (dba John Peter Smith Health Network) on-premises laundry in Fort Worth for the last three years. The plant provides healthcare linen for all of the Tarrant County Hospital District’s healthcare facilities, including the main hospital and pavilion, the community health centers, and the school-based clinics.

I first visited this facility in 2008 when they were replacing their tunnel and dryers. The organization I worked for at that time was asked to provide temporary service during the shutdown. While the installation was under way, I was given a tour of the facility by the textile manager. The facility was well designed, organized and meticulously maintained. I told him that I would enjoy managing this plant someday. Fast-forward seven years, and here I am, exactly where I wanted to be.

My first laundry assignment began in 1995. It was part of a bundle of support services at a facility near Philadelphia. I managed several departments that included both EVS and the OPL. During the 10 years I worked there, I found myself drawn to the laundry operation and spent more time there than any of the other department in my group. 

There was no doubt that my next opportunity to develop was going to be in healthcare laundry, even though I very much enjoyed my time in EVS. I made that move and have never looked back with even an ounce of regret.

In between these experiences, I have had the great fortune to work with several exceptionally talented leaders, all of whom have shown me a wide array of challenges and brilliant tactics to achieve success. The various types of operations I have worked within has included co-operative, central and on-premises laundries as both an in-house and contract manager.

Currently, our operation is closing in on completing a plan to standardize all cubicle curtains throughout the many facilities of the organization. The three-year plan is to be able to treat cubicle curtains as common goods rather than hundreds of unique items to be tracked, monitored and substituted on an ongoing basis.

With over 90% converted to the “standard panel,” we believe we will be complete very soon. This will allow virtually unlimited substitution of curtains (with any other curtain) and ensure both compliance and timely changeover, while eliminating the need to return the previous curtain in place after processing.

This has been an interesting challenge, and with the support of leadership, we will be able to ensure an improved level of accountability and performance within our operations.

Chemicals Supply: Rich Fosmire, Epic Industries a Division of Simoniz USA, Bolton, Conn.

I would like to start out by thanking the editors of this magazine for choosing me to contribute to this year’s Panel of Experts. I have been reading and benefitting from trade periodicals like this for most of my 32-year career in the industry.

Currently, I am a regional sales manager for Epic Industries, a division of Simoniz USA, headquartered in Bolton, Conn. Simoniz purchased the New Jersey-based Epic Industries in 2013. Over the next few years, we built a new 50,000-square-foot warehouse and added an additional 22,000 square feet of manufacturing space. 

As of this writing, we are currently manufacturing from 300,000 to 500,000 pounds of finished goods every day. That includes products for automotive industry, food service sanitation, janitorial supply and laundry, and now with the recent acquisition of Harvard Chemical, a complete line of products for carpet care.

Operating from my home base of Pittsburgh—home of the Steeler Nation—I find a real challenge in the ever-shrinking independent customer base. So many of the smaller OPLs have closed, merged with larger institutions or have a sales contract with national companies.

When I first started out in the laundry chemical field in 1985, Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas, such as Cleveland and Harrisburg, were home to many large, in-house laundries. Today, most of that business has been farmed out. We still have a fair amount of the OPL business found in nursing homes, as well as independent hotel and motel laundries.

There is also the ever-present challenge of how to provide a quality product, state-of-the-art dispensing systems, and providing consultation services to the end-user and still be competitive financially. The cost of providing service has steadily risen over the past 20 years, and today represents our biggest expense. Whereas equipment can be amortized over time, providing service remains constant. To equip a service van properly and hire a qualified technician, the cost approaches $75,000 per year. We need to continue to educate ourselves on the new machines being used, as well as how to program formulas, and at the same time provide a satisfactory finished product for slightly more cost/cwt than 25 years ago.

All and all though, it is still a matter of pride when we take over an account that has had a high reject rate, and after evaluating equipment, procedures and formulas, provide a program that solves the problem. We may not always be the cheapest, but we are content to be the best at what we do.

Textiles: Hal Kanefsky, Monarch Brands, Philadelphia, Pa.

Watching manufacturers make mistakes is how we build our company. In 1947, Monarch Brands was founded on repurposing textile irregulars and by-products for secondary markets.

Over the last 20 years of working in the textile industry, I’ve seen just about every scenario of how laundry products are created, distributed, used and then discarded. When I began this journey in 1997, domestic textile mills were closing due to Central American and Asian competition. I followed the textiles, visiting countries around the world to develop a pipeline for product “byproducts,” distressed merchandise and irregulars.

At the time, our value to our customers was in providing discounted merchantable products for industrial applications. However, it was during these trips that we began to identify the optimal way to deliver all categories of towels, sheets and microfiber products to the industry.

Every mill has a strength (even failure is a strength for specific product lines). We mapped the global mill landscape to determine which mills to rely on for every quality of product offered, and hired agents in important producing countries to represent our interests abroad. Today, the resultant product mix satisfies every laundry textile need.

We believe that reviewing the laundry processes allows us to spec and package particular commercial textiles for laundries in a manner that saves time and optimizes performance.

One of our favorite challenges is working with customers to develop textiles that tackle a specific task within budget. A field expert, with in-depth vertical knowledge, spearheads the project. They orchestrate premier manufacturers, inspection teams, global logistics and marketing outreach to deliver superior first- quality, private-label textiles that outperform the status quo.

Our knowledge of opportunistic purchases allows us to present a different value proposition. Our company grew by understanding the practical spaces where irregulars provide a savings and functional value over first-quality counterparts. By providing an outlet for our mills to liquidate obsolete inventory, budget-savvy laundries save money on products that just get the job done.

Lastly, I recognize that our industry produces massive amounts of waste. To counter this, we offer textile buybacks for laundry rag-out inventory. By recycling textiles for production credit, we provide a cyclical value to customers and keep millions of pounds of textile waste out of landfills.

Our products have found national placement through distribution and laundry facilities, as well as regional and national retailers. Categories now include a full line of microfiber cloths, mops, towels, sheets, top of bed, and bath and accent rugs. I am a proud third-generation owner of a family business that has grown to national prominence in 20 years. I have honed my skill set through years of customer and manufacturer interaction, strengthened by my team of global industry experts.

I’m honored to be a member of this Panel and look forward to providing knowledge in my category, as well as learning from your shared experiences.

Miss Part 1, introducing hospitality and commercial laundries, equipment manufacturing and consulting experts? Click here to read it.

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Matt Poe at [email protected].