CHARLESTON, S.C. — Memorial Day 2020 will be a banner day for Holy City Linen Services.
That’s the day the company will open its new 35,000-square-foot facility in North Charleston, which will house a tunnel system.
The new facility, which broke ground in September, is a $9 million expansion designed to handle more than 20 million pounds a year and add 60 full-time jobs.
“We are growing to offer full-service commercial laundry services to all of the upcoming hotels, resorts and medical centers,” says Ann Son, president of Holy City Linen Services. “This is an exciting time to be in the laundry business in Charleston, South Carolina.”
She says the new plant will be 10 times larger than its current facility, which will be converted to solely handle food & beverage and party linen rentals.
Company leaders toured more than a dozen laundries across the country to define what was needed to run a successful laundry, from the employees to the equipment.
Not that Son and her family didn’t have a good amount of knowledge and experience already.
“I am a second-generation dry cleaner and launderer with over 30 years of experience in the business in both of the Carolinas,” she says. “My sister and I grew up in the business. Our bus stop used to be at the cleaners!”
As the dry-cleaning market began evolving in the early 2000s, Son says her family realized that they needed to adapt to the changing needs of the customers as well. Holy City eliminated the use of all dry-cleaning chemicals and converted to using wet-cleaning processes at all of its locations.
“A few years ago, we began receiving an overwhelming number of inquiries for commercial laundry services within the market and decided it would be a natural extension of our current operations,” shares Son. “So here we are today.
“We have experienced tremendous growth in both arenas. We are the only company in the marketplace to be able to offer dry-cleaning and commercial laundry services on a large scale.”
She says that many of their clients prefer a locally owned company that can handle all aspects of textile cleaning under one roof, whether it is dry-cleaning services for guests, cleaning custom-made draperies, or pressing Irish linen sheets and luxury spa robes.
“We are equipped to handle it all,” adds Son.
“I have found Ms. Son to have extensive knowledge and experience in the dry-cleaning and laundry industry,” says Darrell Jones, Charleston Area Small Business Development Center (SBDC) area manager and regional director of the University of South Carolina region of the South Carolina SBDC.
“As a second-generation business owner in the dry-cleaning and laundry industry, she understands the commitment needed to make the business a success.”
“We proudly service the Charleston area because we live here and work here,” says Son.
Holy City Linen Services operates 364 days a year. It’s current facility has 17 employees to process more than 2 million pounds of dirty laundry a year.
“Since Charleston is a tourist destination, we process a good percentage of our poundage from March-September,” Son shares. “Our current facility relies on washer-extractors and, of course, our ironer. Our facility is small compared to most, but that’s what makes us unique.
“We are incredibly organized and efficient in order to crank out that kind of poundage on time. We have perfected the process.”
Because Holy City Linen is heavily reliant on tourism, business is slow during the winter months into early March. To combat this, Son says the company has focused on customers who cater to locals like massage clinics, doctor’s offices and restaurants.
“We have simplified the laundry process by offering all-in rates and picking up and delivering on time,” Son points out. “We rely heavily on our chemical partners and equipment vendors as well to ensure clean, crisp linen the first time around. This simplicity is the reason for our success.
Holy City Linen is an eco-friendly operation and has implemented changes such as asking hotels to use nylon bags, which the company provides, instead of trash bags for dirty linens. It also assists in repurposing linens that have permanent stains by donating them to a local shelter.
“Our company is family owned and operated,” Son says. “This is what makes us special. But it isn’t just our family here. We have multiple families who have committed to our growth. We rely on each other to get the job done, and when we grow, we grow together.”