ROANOKE, Va. — Some of the best things I accomplished as a laundry manager were very hard. I was never happy with the so-called status quo. I had an internal belief that change never stops and what was good enough today would not be acceptable sometime in the future.
For example, when I first started in the laundry business 100% cotton sheets, pillowcases and bath towels were the standard items in the healthcare laundry system. We used tallow-based soap in our conventional washer-extractors.
When I retired from the laundry business, cotton polyester and 100% polyester items dominated the inventory, washroom chemistry had evolved into synthetic detergents, and tunnel washers and automated wash systems dominated the market.
Each change came along gradually, and some new products flashed onto the market, proved impractical and then disappeared.
Some of these changes were easy to adapt to and some required extensive rethinking of our processes and procedures.
None of it was easy but those who embraced the change and developed the procedures thrived while those who followed the herd or dragged their feet did not do as well.
I attended many educational conferences and trade shows during my 44 years of active management. I always enjoyed the educational sessions that challenged my assumptions of what was good or possible.
In follow-up discussions with my fellow laundry managers, I often heard them say it was an interesting idea, but it would be very hard to implement. To me hard is the wrong word, we should say it would be very challenging to implement.
Challenging is a word that means to me with the right amount of effort and planning anything is possible.
To succeed in business as well as in life you must not be afraid to fail. If the idea is a good idea, then we simply need to use trial and error to find the best way to accomplish it.
Thomas Edison did not invent the light bulb on his first or second try. It took him around 1,000 tries before he succeeded. That is the definition of a determined man to reach his goal.
Unlike Thomas Edison the inventor, we have a large group of people who can help us succeed. We have our supervisory staff, our line employees, the managers, and departments we serve and our allied trade partners.
All these elements need to get started is a determined laundry manager willing to lead the way and implement a change process.
Change needs to be evaluated each step along the way. I readily admit that some challenges we undertook, while promising, simply did not work out as planned while other projects were made easier by what we learned from our failed experiences.
The collaborative effort across department lines and disciplines created lines of communication that presented many benefits regardless of the success or failure of the project.
As laundry managers we need to grow, reach beyond our comfort zones and do more than simply manage the day-to-day process of processing soiled textile products into clean, safe products to be used by our end customers.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Matt Poe at [email protected].