ROANOKE, Va. — Many years ago when I was just starting in this industry, I attended my first-ever laundry educational seminar in Denver, Colorado.
I was then a shift supervisor in a large healthcare laundry in Salt Lake City, Utah. This was my first place of employment after graduating from college, and at that time, I thought my work in the laundry would be a temporary thing until I got the opportunity to work in my major field of study.
The keynote speaker covered the topic of “The Ever-Learning Manager.” He stressed the need to be constantly improving our personal knowledge and perfecting our management techniques.
He warned us about the danger of thinking we were good enough or that we knew all we needed to know. He pointed out how many advances had been achieved since 1960 and how fast the growth of technology was impacting our lives. He spoke about how this technology might affect us in the future.
As I look back on that seminar, which was held in 1974, I marvel at how many things have happened that we could not even dream about at that time. Computers were just beginning to affect businesses, but the concept of a personal computer in the office or the home simply did not exist.
Cell phones had not been invented yet, and smartphones with more processing power than many large-frame computers of that day were not even a dream.
The world was a much bigger and less connected place. Textiles were predominantly made in the United States. Cotton was still king, and a tallow-based soap was still used in many laundries.
It was impossible for us to imagine what the future would hold for us, and yet that message of needing to be an ever-learning manager still rings true today.
I do not have a crystal ball and cannot tell you what changes we will see in the next 20 years. I can say without a doubt that education will play an important part in keeping up with that future.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your industry? What challenges has it created for your operation? How will the surge of recent undocumented immigrants affect the labor pool in your town? What skills will you need to manage a diverse work crew that may not speak much English?
Are your customers demanding newer and better linen products in an attempt to improve healthcare and reduce length of stay? How can we refine our production processes to improve productivity and make better use of our existing labor force?
These questions can and will be answered by those managers and supervisors who take advantage of all the educational opportunities provided by our employers, our suppliers and our trade associations.
Change is a constant we must all deal with and learning should never cease.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Matt Poe at [email protected].