Meet Our 2007 Panel of Experts (Part 2 of 3)

TEXTILES: Kevin Keyes is the Laundry Service Team (LST) leader for Milliken & Co.'s Napery Fabrics Business, Spartanburg, S.C. His team provides technical and marketing support to the textile rental industry. He's been with Milliken for 18 years, having served the first 11 in textile manufacturing.
I’m the Laundry Service Team (LST) leader for Milliken’s Napery Fabrics Business, and am responsible for our services in the eastern United States and Canada.
The LST provides technical and marketing support to the textile rental industry. I’ve been with Milliken for 18 years: 11 years in textile manufacturing and the remainder now with the Napery Business. Prior to leading the LST, I was territory manager over both our Midwest and Northeast territories.
I graduated from Winthrop University in South Carolina with a degree in communications. I’ve been married 18 years to my wife, Kim, and we have two sons, Christian, 15, and Jacob, 13
A leading international manufacturer, Milliken & Co. is one of the world’s largest privately held textile and chemical companies.
Headquartered in Spartanburg, S.C., the company employs more than 10,000 associates working from more than 47 U.S. manufacturing facilities.
Milliken is recognized for its continuous quality improvement process, and the company’s progressive, innovative business strategies and reputation for customer service continue to serve as a corporate cornerstone.
In 2004 and 2006, Milliken was named among the “Best Companies to Work For” in FORTUNE magazine’s annual listing. Milliken was also named one of the 17 “Safest Companies in America” by Occupational Hazards magazine.
The Milliken Napery Business started in 1978 with the industry’s first 100% filament polyester fabric. This was followed by the introduction of Visa® 2x1 Oxford.
In 1996, spun polyester was introduced to the market. In 1999, Milliken brought Signature™ spun/filament to the industry. Signature Plus™ with superior soil release was introduced in 2005. For more than 25 years, Milliken has been leading the industry with product innovation and service.
2006 was the year of Project Green for Milliken. It’s a soil- release chemistry that’s applied at the laundry to bring its existing Signature inventory up to Signature Plus levels. After this process, laundries can take advantage of lower processing costs due to better soil release.
A key challenge for our business is the continued rise in energy costs. Milliken is providing Project Green and Signature Plus in an effort to save laundries money on energy.
We are also continuing to stress return on investment, helping to improve laundry efficiency and offering value-added services as an alternative to import products with no support at all.CHEMICALS SUPPLY: Tom Storm is vice president of technical development for WSI, Cincinnati, a national company specializing in providing washroom and wastewater chemicals plus accompanying service to commercial laundries. A chemical engineer, Tom has 38 years of laundry industry experience.
I’m a chemical engineer by education and have been developing various washing chemical formulations since 1968. I’m one of the founders and original owners of Washing Systems Inc. (WSI), a national company specializing in providing washroom and wastewater chemicals along with the accompanying service to the commercial laundry industry.
My current position involves providing input to WSI’s R&D organization plus being responsible for investigating new technologies that may have potential benefit for the commercial laundry industry. My 38 years of experience has brought me into almost 500 laundries across the United States, Canada and Europe.
The past year produced many challenges, and, hence, opportunities for chemical suppliers. All suppliers were faced with shortages and large price increases of key raw materials. The cost of energy skyrocketed, placing a heavy burden on chemical suppliers as well as commercial laundries. More cost-effective chemical formulations were developed as well as more energy-efficient wash formulas.
A major accomplishment for WSI was the acquisition of JohnsonDiversey’s commercial laundry business in both the U.S. and Canada. This greatly expanded our business in Canada and also allowed large-scale expansion of its business base into the healthcare and hospitality areas. A large amount of effort was required to consolidate multiple product lines and manufacturing locations.
Two major challenges for chemical suppliers this year will be the environmental pressure being exerted on the use of alkyl phenol ethoxylates (APEs), the major surfactant type used in commercial laundry products, and minimizing the use of fresh water.
The use of APEs in commercial laundry products has been banned in Europe, and their use in Canada is severely restricted. Although there is considerable data available that indicates these materials are not present in large enough concentrations to be an environmental concern, the debate may likely become academic. A number of local areas have either banned or severely restricted their use, and the number is continuing to grow.
Chemical suppliers will be faced with developing cost-effective alternatives. Current replacements carry a large cost premium. Fresh water can no longer be considered “an unlimited resource.” It’s becoming very expensive and, even more important, limited in supply.
Many commercial laundries must treat their waste water before discharge at considerable expense. Reuse of that water can help offset those treatment expenses. The challenge that chemical suppliers face is to reuse the maximum amount of water possible without compromising wash quality. Just because water is clear to the eye doesn’t mean it will produce a high wash quality.


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