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Introducing: The 2022 Panel of Experts (Conclusion)

Meet the experts in long-term care laundry, chemicals supply, commercial laundry and consulting services

Long-Term Care Laundry: Juli Reding, Wood-Lawn Inc., Batesville, Ark.

It is an honor and a privilege to serve on this year’s ALN Panel of Experts.

The organization that I work for consists of three facilities. The campus includes a skilled nursing facility, assisted living facility and an independent living facility.

When I first began my career with the organization in November 2004, I was working full time on second shift in the laundry department. At the same time, I was also working another full-time job on first shift at another company, which I had been with for 10 years.

Over the next 12 months, I moved into a newly created position as director of central supply. This would entail creating a central supply storage location, developing and implementing procedures and policies, developing a purchase requisition system, a delivery system to get product to all the departments, creating contracts with vendors, and doing the annual inventory of the facility.

I facilitate between suppliers, manufacturers and internal departments at all three facilities. I also effectively build lasting relationships with suppliers that help with sourcing the best quality and best-priced goods and services.

This new opportunity was going to be a fun and exciting challenge that I looked forward to. Though accepting this new opportunity meant leaving the other full-time job that I had been at for 10 years, it has been well worth it. It has been a very satisfying career choice for me.

In less than 12 months as director of central supply, I acquired two additional departments to manage, laundry and housekeeping. My title then changed to director of purchasing and support services.

After several years, the housekeeping department was transferred over to the maintenance department assistant manager so that I could focus more on purchasing and the laundry department.

In the middle of September 2021, the laundry department was transferred over to the housekeeping manager so that I could give more attention to purchasing, budgeting and general operations. It has been and still is an exciting and challenging career with a great company.

Thank you for this opportunity. I look forward to contributing my career skills and experience.  

Chemicals Supply: John Schafer, Diversey, Fort Mill, S.C.

I have been in the chemical supply business for nearly 30 years having worked for Diversey, Ecolab, GOJO and Staples. 

I am currently employed as a business development manager for Diversey working with hotels, restaurants, nursing homes and hospitals for their cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting chemical needs. 

My past roles include sales manager, national accounts sales manager, sales director and restaurant manager. 

Though I sell chemicals, I also work with customers on their labor, equipment and utility costs, which are a far higher spend than their chemical cost. 

When I work with a customer, they are really buying three things from me: chemicals, results and service. Though they often focus on the invoice cost of the chemicals I supply them, those chemicals are used to produce a result, whether a clean glass, floor or towel, and the equipment used, the procedures used along with the chemicals used, affect those results. 

Finally, we provide service to maintain our dispensers, provide training and program customer-owned machines. The service is provided at no additional charge as part of the price the customer pays for our chemicals. 

A big challenge I face is to help customers focus on their other costs associated with cleaning besides the cost of the chemical. Labor is a huge component of their cleaning costs, and if I can reduce their labor costs by 10%, I could charge double for my chemicals and still save them money. Most customers are hesitant to incorporate this overall cost accounting in their analysis for choosing a chemical vendor.

I am excited to be a part of this Panel. I hope my experiences will provide helpful solutions to the challenges you face.

Commercial Laundry: Lee Baldauf, Superior Linen Service, Tacoma, Wash.

My pathway to this job was one I never thought would lead me here. I spent the better part of three decades working the construction trades and have a tech degree in engineering. I was self-employed until the end of 2011 as a general contractor focused on demolition and excavation work.

After enduring a three-year struggle with the economy, I decided to shift gears and answered a Craigslist ad for a maintenance management position. I have not looked back since the beginning of 2012.

I had a better than average understanding of electrical, hydraulics, pneumatics, scheduling, compliance, etc. What I knew little about was our industry itself. This was overcome by tenacity and a supportive family of owners. I was, and still am, given every opportunity to learn and grow.

I am now a 10-year veteran of the industry. The company I work for is a fourth-generation family-owned independent with the fifth generation currently mastering their respective roles.

My oldest son, 26, has also been working in the industry for our production department in high school and college and is now our chemical rep working for an “unnamed company.”

I am bewildered by how large and small this industry is, and I have a lot of gratitude for being fortunate enough to stumble into it.

This company, and the industry, have been exceptionally beneficial to me and mine, and I hope to remain a positive influence here for another 15 years.

Consulting Services: Jon Witschy, Spindle, Woodridge, Ill.

After receiving a degree in textile engineering technology from Southern Tech, I began my career in 1993 as a vendor of industrial automation systems to the textile rental and textile manufacturing industries. I joined Spindle as sales manager in 2012. 

Spindle gives operations actionable insights into how their plant is performing in real-time. Improve employee productivity, maximize equipment utilization, monitor utilities and schedule preventive maintenance all in one place.

Spindle’s original productivity-monitoring software has delivered significant savings for our customers by helping to reduce labor costs.

The evolution to our current, more robust platform was driven by the need to address additional major cost considerations within a laundry: maximizing overall equipment effectiveness and efficient utility consumption.

Spindle achieves these goals by providing the right information, to the right people, at the right time—from the shop floor to the head office.

In addition to engaging employees through the visual workplace to increase their performance, Spindle also features analysis tools and a unique Facility Health Score. Its real-time data helps laundry operations make better decisions, on their schedules.

Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work with personnel from the production floor to the corporate office and learn about the challenges facing our businesses. My goal in partnering with customers has always been to improve efficiency, quality and safety.

In each of my professional roles, I have supported process controllers, automation systems and operations management software through all stages of design, sale, installation and training.

It’s an honor to be selected to serve on ALN’s Panel of Experts. There often seems to be an endless list of concerns for the laundry industry: operating costs, quality, customer service … and many others. 

This Panel format provides an excellent opportunity to share ideas and experiences that can lead to breakthroughs. I look forward to providing information for the benefit and growth of our industry.

Miss meeting our healthcare laundry, equipment, distribution, uniforms and hospitality laundry experts in Part 1? Click HERE to read it!

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