Commercial Laundry: David Griggs, Superior Linen Service, Muskogee, Okla.

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David Griggs

David Griggs

I am the general manager of Superior Linen Service’s Healthcare Division located in Muskogee, Okla. We process 15 million pounds of healthcare linens annually. 

I have been in the laundry industry since 1984. The bulk of this time was spent in maintenance and production. I am very fortunate to work for a company that invested its time and resources to promote an employee from the morning maintenance person to plant manager and now to the general manager.

I am honored to have been chosen to participate in this panel for the second year. I know answering the questions each month has made me look at our facility and has opened our eyes to our own issues. 

Improving production and safety is an infinite goal with new challenges daily. I hope I can share the experiences I have gained on my journey toward improving our laundry daily.

I am a proud veteran who served in the United States Marine Corps prior to entering the laundry industry.

Equipment/Supply Distribution: Kyle Zabrin, Equipment International, Morton Grove, Ill.

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Kyle Zabrin

Kyle Zabrin

Hello and thank you, it is an honor to be considered an “expert.” I am humbled and excited to be part of this panel.  

I have been working for our family business, Equipment International, in some capacity for 15 years. I spend most of my time working with customers on solutions for their laundry operations. I am passionate about suggesting the correct equipment to help our customers’ long-term success.  

Equipment International was founded in 1965 by my grandfather. We distribute and service industrial laundry equipment in the Chicagoland area, northwest Indiana and Western Michigan. Our customers range from small on-premises laundries to industrial applications that process thousands of pounds a day. We also have a 14-person parts and service team dedicated to keeping equipment running properly and eliminating downtime.

One of our greatest accomplishments has been an investment in great employees. I recognize that we are in a service-driven industry, and I strive to have the most competent, professional technicians in the industry. 

In 2019 we hired an additional five competent professionals to our service team, allowing us to increase our coverage and eliminate downtime for our customers. Additionally, we took on particularly difficult installations that we have not done in the past and were able to complete them with great success. It is always nice to execute on a plan.

As good as our communication is with our customers, I always believe it can be better. We are challenged to get the correct message to the correct person. The method (phone, e-mail, text) in which our customer prefers to communicate also needs to be considered. I always challenge my employees to communicate often and effectively with our customers. 

Chemicals Supply: Lauren Hunker, Ecolab, Eagan, Minn.  

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Lauren Hunker

Lauren Hunker

I am a product development chemist in the Textile Care division at Ecolab. I have a little over a year’s experience in my current role, in which my responsibilities are to develop new solutions and work with the team to bring them to market. This process involves spending time in the field to fully understand our customer’s business and the commercial laundry industry to ensure our products deliver value to our customers. 

Prior to my current role, I worked on our Laundry Anchor team leading phase 0-1 projects supporting both our on-premises and commercial laundries, as well in a commercialization role in the food and beverage division. In these roles, I contributed to two patent applications and a publication in the Food Protection Trends Journal (Vol. 38, No. 2, p 96-103). 

At Ecolab, we strive to deliver high-quality results for our customers through innovative and sustainable solutions. In an R&D role, we are tasked with developing new solutions to unique challenges as the market changes with new soils and substrates, customer and industry objectives, or regulations. 

Outside of my job-related activities, I have co-led the Ecolab outreach partnership with a local organization that provides resources to women to empower them to achieve economic independence. 

In 2019, a major accomplishment of Ecolab’s Textile Care division was the delivery of a new detergent for F&B oils on spun polyester. As the food industry transitioned away from hydrogenated oils, these soils became increasingly more difficult to remove and became a quality challenge for our customers. 

We developed a truly new, innovative solution specifically designed to remove food oil in a low-temperature wash process. This solution enables our customers to deliver exceptional quality to their customers while realizing the benefits of a more operationally efficient wash process.

Challenges we face are derivatives of our own customer’s challenges. When our customers come to us with a quality issue, we need to provide them solutions fast. 

The development process of a new product takes time, depending on the complexity of the issue and solution. Therefore, it is important to us that we can solve customer problems quickly by identifying trending issues and starting the development process early so that solutions are readily available and quality issues can be remedied quickly with minimal disruption to our customers’ operations. 

At Ecolab, we place a high value on sustainable solutions. Therefore, our initiatives of delivering products that reduce water and energy consumption are directly aligned with the challenges of increasing operational costs our customers are currently facing. 

Textiles: Timothy Voit, Thomaston Mills, Wyncote, Pa.

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Timothy Voit

Timothy Voit

I’m the chief marketing officer for Thomaston Mills, a manufacturer of bed and bath linens for hotels, hospitals, dormitories and other institutional linens. Prior to my current position at Thomaston, I was the international sales manager for over 20 years, overseeing exports to customers in over 40 countries.  

Overall, I have almost 25 years of experience working in institutional linen care and have been intimately involved with our end customers who launder hotel and hospital linens and enjoy some great friendships that go back decades with them.

Having visited customers as far afield as Africa, Latin America, Europe and the Caribbean, I have seen many issues that laundries and linen rentals struggle with on a daily basis and are common throughout the world.  

I have helped develop new sheet and towel products with our manufacturing staff, several of whom have 40-years-plus experience in textile manufacturing and finishing with an eye to making items with long term durability under harsh laundering conditions. 

Despite my marketing and sales background, I am able to get “under the hood” with textile experts and can bring some of their insights to this year’s questions as well.

I have a passion for moving our industry forward toward a more sustainable future. Unfortunately, the tide of low price/low quality products, many of which shed micro-plastics at a high rate into our water supply and are completely non-biodegradable, is still strong. 

Price pressures abound that push end users away from investing in long-term value and favor cheap items they will have to buy frequently and end up costing them more over time. It is a dilemma we will all need to solve together as China will no longer take our waste, clean water is becoming more scarce and international trade patterns are changing.  

It’s an honor to be selected to the panel, and I very much look forward to the dialogue. 

Hotel/Motel/Resort Laundry: Phil Jones, Hotelier Linen Service, Lakeland, Fla.

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Phil Jones

Phil Jones

Hello, everyone. It is my pleasure to be on the Panel of Experts for 2020.

I have had the pleasure of working in several different sized laundries during the last 26 years. Currently I have begun a new phase, as I am working in a commercial as opposed to a hotel-type laundry.

I believe I can bring a unique perspective to the conversation, as there are many differences between the two types of operations. I look forward to having the chance to discuss laundry issues and hopefully provide valuable information, especially if you are reading this and are newer to the laundry business.

My biggest challenge during the past year has been working to transition a recently purchased laundry operation that was a hospital laundry and converting it to a hospitality operation.

I am sure that there will be many challenges for all of us in 2020, and together we can all learn and improve during the year.                 

Miss Part 1, introducing our experts in long-term care laundry, uniforms/workwear manufacturing, equipment manufacturing and consulting services? Click HERE now to ready it!