Commercial Laundry: David Griggs, Superior Linen Service, Muskogee, Okla.

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David Griggs

David Griggs

I am a 35-year veteran of the laundry industry. For the last 30 years, I have worked at Superior Linen Service in Tulsa, Okla. 

I started as a maintenance tech and progressed through the ranks until I was the maintenance coordinator for all three of Superior’s production facilities. Then I moved over to production to become the plant manager and, eventually, to my current role as general manager for Superior Linen Service Healthcare Division located in Muskogee, Okla.

Prior to entering the laundry industry, I was an administrative clerk in the United States Marine Corps.

Here at Superior Linen we are very proud to be accredited in the standards for TRSA Clean Green and TRSA Hygienically Clean. We have also been HLAC accredited since 2006. 

While the industry has seen laundry mergers and investment groups take over many laundries, we are very proud to be owned and operated by the Waldman family since 1954.

The biggest obstacle we have faced in 2018—and will continue to face in 2019—is the shortage of entry-level production labor. The shrinking labor pool had caused us to raise our entry-level wages to compete with other industries. We have also seen our pre-employment drug test fails rise dramatically over the last year. 

To counter this trend, we have automated where possible, worked hard to keep our existing workforce through more employee engagement and created a more organized and safe facility for our employees.

I am honored to be chosen as a participant of the American Laundry News Panel of Experts. I hope to pass on any experience I have learned to the readers.

Equipment/Supply Distribution: Janice Ayers Davis, TLC Tri-State Laundry Companies, Valdosta, Ga.

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Janice Ayers Davis

Janice Ayers Davis

During the past decade, I have read American Laundry News from cover to cover, and it is with excitement and gratitude to be chosen as one of the 2019 Panel of Experts.

My career in the laundry industry began in Atlanta, when I joined General Electric Major Appliance Division in 1982. My objectives then led me through a journey with commercial laundry equipment in 1996 when accepting a position with Wink Davis Equipment Co., initially as a service manager and later as director of operations.

My role segued from Wink Davis to joining the TLC Tri-State team under the leadership of Matt Stephenson, president/COO, in 2014, providing me the opportunity to continue leadership roles alongside a team of dedicated professionals. The fit was a good one, as both the Davis and Stephenson families shared a vision for their companies and a strong commitment to faith, family, employees and their customers.

Based upon our services to include commercial and vended laundry equipment, along with parts and service, I have the opportunity to work with clients ranging from healthcare to hospitality and municipalities in my role as vice president of strategic planning.

My roles throughout the years have been diverse, including working in administrative roles, as well as enjoying the opportunity to develop lasting relationships with experts in the company and in the field.

Ideally the knowledge these folks have shared with me over the years will be of benefit to each of the readers.

In this role and within each of our careers, I believe the most difficult challenge is having the ability to look at any given situation and provide a solution where everyone wins. Without customers, there would be no company, and without companies, there would be no customer.

I believe Einstein stated it best: “I do not have all of the answers, but I know where to get them.” I will work diligently alongside the editors of American Laundry News, and on behalf of the readers, to provide well-researched answers to the questions on your mind in 2019.

Textiles: Gabriel Boardman, MIP Inc., Anjou, Quebec

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Gabriel Boardman

Gabriel Boardman

I have spent most of my professional career at MIP, a Canada-based reusable textile supplier and manufacturer. This year, 2019, will be my 30th year at MIP. 

It started as a summer job for a company that needed an in-house translator, and from there I got involved in many aspects of the operations, from product development to marketing of our product lines in more than 32 countries. Following 15 years as VP marketing, I have recently been appointed as VP corporate communication. 

MIP has offices and factories around the world. The exposure to many markets allows us to keep developing and innovating while being inspired by the diversity of solutions offered in healthcare institutions across the globe. 

We have always taken great pride in presenting innovative, value-added products to our laundry customers. We always keep in mind what is important to our clientele and involve them in the development of products to ensure that they will meet the needs of processing efficiency, as well as answering the challenges faced by patients and healthcare workers. 

I am honored to be part of the 2019 Panel of Experts and commit to contribute in all areas of concern to our healthcare laundry customers.

Equipment Manufacturing: Brock Pellerin, Pellerin Milnor Corp., Kenner, La. 

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Brock Pellerin

Brock Pellerin

Greetings, I am Brock Pellerin, a regional sales manager for Pellerin Milnor Corp.  

Pellerin Milnor Corp. is a manufacturer of commercial- and industrial-grade laundry equipment, in business since 1947 and based out of Kenner, La. My family has been involved in the industry for nearly 100 years, and I am a fourth-generation Pellerin involved in laundry, so you could say that the laundry industry is in my DNA.

I have been working at Milnor since December 2006. I started in our application engineering department as a project manager. My role was to work with our regional sales managers, dealers and customers to design and lay out laundry facilities in AutoCAD, primarily for commercial laundries. During this time, I was involved with some of the largest laundry projects in North America. I also managed planning details for several international laundry projects while serving in this role.  

I became a regional sales manager in 2013. This role allows me to work hands-on with our dealer network to provide laundries various solutions for improvement in production, profit and safety relating to OPL and commercial laundries. 

Additionally, being a regional sales manager put me in a traveling position for Milnor, which has allowed me to visit, consult and recommend improvements for laundry operations throughout North America. 

One of the most important issues I see on a regular basis for our industry is finding and retaining qualified and talented labor. The high employment rate in the USA has made it difficult to find and retain good workers, as well as attract new workers arriving into the workforce.

 The laundry industry does not have a glamorous appeal compared with other high-profile industries. Chances are new college graduates aren’t even aware our industry exists, much less ever considered working in it; however, laundries touch on many disciplines, including resource planning, production management and technologies, sustainability, engineering, sales, and logistics. Therefore, there are many attributes that the laundry industry incorporates that may be appealing to potential laborers. 

Growing automation trends in our industry allow us to use fewer employees. However, these same technologies provide us with an opportunity to attract different types of workers with new and emerging skill sets. 

It is an honor to be on the American Laundry News Panel of Experts. I look forward to sharing my thoughts and observations on the various subjects during the coming year. 

Healthcare Laundry: Gregory Gicewicz, Sterile Surgical Systems, Tumwater, Wash.

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Gregory Gicewicz

Gregory Gicewicz

I am the president and CEO of Sterile Surgical Systems, an HLAC-accredited healthcare laundry and FDA-registered sterile surgical textile pack processor located in Tumwater, Wash. We process approximately 12 million pounds of healthcare textiles across acute care hospitals and medical outpatient facilities located around the Western Washington state region.  

I am honored and humbled to be chosen to serve on the American Laundry News Panel of Experts. While I am a relative industry novice, with only 12 years’ experience running a healthcare laundry and sterile surgical pack processing plant, I do offer some unique perspectives that I believe can help our readers.  

I was thrown into our industry with zero laundry experience and have made 100 years’ worth of mistakes in only 12 years! In fact, if we had a board of directors and I served on it, I would have fired myself at least a dozen times. But with great mistakes come great lessons, if we pay attention and learn, learn, learn. And I’m still breathing. Some might even say that our business is now thriving. 

I also offer the benefit (or curse) of having worked as an information technology professional and then director for 17 years, first on Wall Street and then with Microsoft for 13 years. When I started in laundry and critical processing or infrastructure equipment failed, I felt panic stricken and helpless. When our single, inconsequential desktop computer failed, I was our guy. 

But slowly and painfully I learned about laundry. It may not seem obvious at first glance, but the concepts, discipline and method of thinking required in information technology have constructive lessons that apply wonderfully to laundry. 

Our sterile surgical textile processing operation is registered with the FDA as a Class II medical device manufacturer. This operation offers many instructive learnings applicable to running a healthcare laundry using good manufacturing practices. 

When we purchased our operation, which we humbly refer to as Sterile Surgical Systems 1.0 (please forgive the Microsoft reference), we processed less than 3 million pounds of healthcare textiles per year on outdated equipment held together with bubble gum, duct tape and bailing wire. 

After lots of investment, and even more thought leadership from our team and industry partners, we are now processing about 12 million pounds annually of high-quality healthcare textiles on the Sterile Surgical Systems 3.5 platform, and are considered one of the most innovative state-of-the-art textile processing facilities in North America. 

While our company has been on a great run, the healthcare textile processing industry has a way of launching tidal waves of new challenges at us each year. 

Today, our healthcare customers are more demanding than ever, and, therefore, force us to perform better than ever. Now, they not only demand that we follow the most rigorous healthcare laundry standards, but they also demand that we go further and deeper in monitoring and validating our adherence to those standards and sharing with them the results. 

This is a great challenge and forces us to think of new and creative ways to meet the rigorous standards under which they now operate. 

I look forward to sharing our many experiences, gotchas, process innovations and overall better ways of building this mousetrap that we call healthcare textiles processing! 

Check back tomorrow to meet the remaining four experts.