ROANOKE, Va. — I started writing this monthly column for American Laundry News back in 2000. More than 22 years later, I am writing my last piece for the publication. 

I have enjoyed providing insight into our industry and stirring up a little controversy every now and then. It has been great to get feedback from my readers, and it has always amazed me that my editors have allowed me to continue to do this year after year.

I retired from active laundry management over five years ago. My personal life has gone down unexpected paths over those years. I find now that my life is full and rewarding, and I am being forced to make additional changes to give me the time to do everything I want to do.

I can honestly say that over the past 22-plus years, I think I have written all that I have to say. The laundry business has been great to me, and I hope that over years I have been able to add to it in a small way.

I have encouraged managers to plan for the future of their operations, to keep an eye on the challenges facing our industry and never stop learning.

Today, I want to encourage all of you to also plan for your retirement. A good life after retirement does not just happen. It is a result of careful planning in several areas. These areas are financial, health and interests.

I am not a financial planner, but I have learned that the sooner you start saving for your retirement the better off you will be. You need to give your money time to grow.

If I could talk to my younger self, I would encourage myself to start younger and put a little more away from each paycheck. I did a good job over the years and have ample put away for my retirement years but as I look back, I have come to realize that you can never have too much.

Runaway inflation can become a real drag on your retirement income.

What you can do in your retirement years will be affected by your health. I was able to take my dream retirement trip to Thailand for six weeks after I retired, and that trip has in so many ways changed my life.

I have now traveled to Thailand a total of three times as well as several cross-country trips in the United States. I love to travel and enjoy taking my time and really enjoying the journey.

I made sure that I had addressed my health problems during my last several years on the job and before retirement had both knee joints replaced. The increased mobility and lack of joint pain have greatly increased my enjoyment of life.

Finally, you need to have a plan to follow your interests after you retire. I have seen too many people retire and then seemingly just fade away due to inactivity. It is not good to sit around the house and watch TV and do nothing.

You have been active and working for many years and your body and mind will do best if you plan on staying that way.

Each person is different. I have a friend who recently retired, sold their horse farm, bought a fifth wheel trailer and is now following the sun.

Every day is a new adventure. Every day they get out and hike and explore this country of ours. That was their dream, and they are doing what interests them. They are active, healthy and happy.

I am healthy, happy and busy every day doing what I like to do.

This is my final article, and this year’s Clean Show will be my last stop on my wonderful journey in the laundry industry. It has truly been an honor of a lifetime to have written these columns for you over the past 22-plus years.

If you ever need a little personal advice or just want to talk, I can be contacted via my e-mail.