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Greet the 2008 American Laundry News Panel of Experts (2nd in a Series)

In the second of a series, this year’s contributors to the American Laundry News Panel of Experts introduce themselves, describe their operations, identify challenges and list their accomplishments for 2007.EQUIPMENT DISTRIBUTION: Scott McClure was hired as CAD engineer for Pellerin Laundry Machinery Sales Co. in 1992 and became its Louisiana sales representative in 1996, winning numerous awards while in the post. He became sales manager in 2003 and vice president of sales the following year. He oversees sales in a seven-state territory.
Pellerin Laundry Machinery Sales Co., located in Kenner, La., is one of the largest full-line laundry equipment dealers in North America, servicing a seven-state territory that includes Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, western Tennessee and the Florida panhandle. We employ seven territory managers, plus have an eighth salesman on staff specializing in coin store development and drycleaning equipment sales.
Pellerin Laundry has been providing successful laundry solutions to multiple markets in the south-central United States since the 1920s. Some of the markets we service include hospitals, hotels, cooperative laundries, uniform rental, industrial, nursing homes, coin laundries, drycleaners, schools and fire departments. We sell and service all of our customers’ equipment needs, including mechanical room equipment, washing/drying equipment, linen finishing equipment and storage/delivery carts.
Today, our customers are interested in purchasing more products from fewer qualified vendors. This has allowed us to get more involved with the actual design and construction of several laundries. Most recently, we completed 80,000- and 38,000-square-foot co-op laundry facilities for Texas Medical Center and the HCA Corp., respectively. We even furnished and installed our first full-service surgical pack room at the Texas Medical Center in Houston.
With the continuous rise in natural gas and water/sewer costs, we’ve been presented with the opportunity to educate our customers about the various water and energy conservation systems applicable to their needs. Hurricane Katrina has vastly affected the labor market and associated costs for southern Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We provide customers with unique laborsaving solutions through the use of automated equipment and material-handling systems.
I look forward to sharing our company’s successful solutions and innovative ideas with you this year.HEALTHCARE LAUNDERING: Richard Hoelscher is the associate director of linen services for Parkland Health & Hospital System, Dallas, and oversees the laundering of more than 10 million pounds of healthcare linen annually for four hospitals. With three supervisors, he’s responsible for 75 workers in production, repair, packing and distribution.
As the labor market gets tighter, we must be more creative in recruiting. We must recognize who will fit into our organizations and who will not. We can teach the skills, but it’s much more difficult to change habits and personalities.
The high cost of replacing employees forces us to look at what we can do to minimize turnover. We must respect their needs: recognition, support, protection, guidance and growth, as well as good pay and benefits. Without our people, we’re not able to do our job. How will we meet these needs? How will we improve safety, ergonomics and training?
The costs to the environment and to our health from the pollution we create and the loss of cheap, plentiful water and energy continue to drive us to improve efficiencies and decrease waste. We’ll be able to use improvements in equipment, chemicals, textiles and management technology to stretch and preserve these resources.
What equipment will we change or add? More efficient production equipment and water/heat recycling equipment will play their part, but which will be the most practical? What about improvements in lighting, air conditioning and nonproduction equipment/systems? How can we recycle our plastic bags and other items that are now a medical waste?
The ever-increasing pressure to reduce healthcare costs – one of the fastest growing costs all employers face – is directly felt by those in the industry. We must improve quality and productivity while being ever more efficient.
The nationwide increase in hospital-acquired infections, along with the withdrawal of Medicare/Medicaid funds to treat these infections, forces all healthcare departments including the laundry to devise and implement improvements.
While properly cleaned and processed textiles have almost never been found to spread infections, it may now be possible to reduce this risk by applying antibacterial coating to certain textile items exposed to multiple patients between launderings. One item that comes to mind is the doctor’s coat.
Our organization has successfully used a coating applied to surgical gowns to maintain like-new fluid resistance throughout a gown’s life. Why don’t all healthcare laundries use it? What’s the best way to remove oil and grease stains from 100% polyester barrier fabrics?
We’re starting to process more new products, such as air mattresses. They’re extremely expensive, and issues have arisen such as how to prevent damaging the seams. Some laundries have had problems processing microfiber mops. What challenges will processing other new products present?
I wish I had the answers to all these questions. We’re trying some things and investigating others. I’m honored to be part of this panel and will call upon my friends in the industry to help provide the best responses I can.CHEMICALS SUPPLY: Kevin McLaren directs the CLG (Commercial Laundry Group) Laboratories for the Dober Group, a manufacturer of specialty chemicals. He joined Dober in 1994 after serving 10 years as an applications chemist in the industrial and institutional housekeeping markets.
During 2007, chemical suppliers to the rental textile industry continued to address and balance the influences of a global supply and demand marketplace. The continued search for an organization’s profitability has created situations where changes by the launderer, textile manufacturers and chemical vendors have resulted in changes to the chemical products and fabrics found on the wash floor.
The expanding affluence of once economically suppressed countries has resulted in an increased demand for some materials. These same economic gains have also resulted in the emergence of new chemical suppliers to the open market. As an example, China’s continued prosperity has resulted in foreign-sourced commodity chemicals being available within the U.S. marketplace. These new offerings add to the complexity of materials to choose from and mandate that a focus on quality be enacted.
Interests in surfactant regulations already enacted in international countries are pressuring the selection and use of materials in the United States. Responding to these changes in sourced goods is impacting the laundering process, and the cost of processing goods continues to be a fundamental focus of the launderer/supplier partnership.
Changes in agricultural practices borne out of the emerging biodiesel market have resulted in increased demand for ortho- and polyphosphates. Shortages in petrochemical materials due to tropical storms and the Middle East conflicts have prompted changes in agricultural processes to alleviate shortages in fuel feedstocks. Tightening phosphate supplies will place an increasing focus on water quality and laundry detergency as 2008 arrives.
The Dober Group provides washfloor and wastewater treatment chemistries designed to maximize the production and compliance goals of the professional launderer. When these chemical products are employed with the use of a washfloor management system, the holistic operational efficiencies of the laundry facility can be monitored, tracked and optimized.
2007 saw the introduction of our Spindle Technologies, providing advanced utilities and productivity management systems to the professional laundry market. Resource management, like control over chemical supplies and textile sourcing, represents a tool of continuing evolution, a tool that will foster our industry’s sustained growth.
 

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