ROANOKE, Va. — I started in the laundry business in August 1972 and will officially retire from active laundry management on Dec. 21. It has been a great ride, and a career I have really enjoyed. Along the way, I have had the opportunity to work with and get to know a tremendous number of people.
I fell into the laundry business by accident, and the first position I accepted was that of a washer/dryer operator in a hospital laundry in Salt Lake City, Utah. I told myself it was a temporary job until I could get a job in my major—outdoor recreational management, or the management of national parks and forest recreation facilities. Well, that temporary job lasted a little longer than I thought it would.
I had a department director who believed in the industry and took time to sell me on the great future that could be mine. I had minors in business and sociology. I had a strong background in chemistry because my father, Kenneth Jacob Frederick, had been a research chemist with Abbott Laboratories while I was growing up. In fact, he discovered dry bleach during World War II.
So, I figured it was simply fate that I ended up working in the laundry business.
I have seen many changes over the years. When I started in the laundry industry, all sheets were 100% cotton, and we used tallow soap.
I witnessed the advent of the poly-cotton sheets and the early 100% polyester sheets. I witnessed the following items being added to the laundry business: thermal fluid ironers, corner feeders, sheet pickers and blanket folders. All these have been marvelous advancements for the laundry industry.
I have seen the rise and fall of a number of health initiatives, and the ever-increasing use of computers in the laundry industry. I have witnessed over the past 14 years the development of high-quality, real-time productivity management systems. The challenge today is educating managers and supervisors as to how to get the most out of these systems.
While I will retire from active laundry management, I have no plans to disappear to a tropical beach and listen to the waves all day. I have enjoyed this industry and will stay active in a number of ways.
I plan to continue to write my monthly column and will dust off my consulting shingle and be available if someone needs my assistance. I may combine the numerous columns I have written in the past 20-plus years into an e-book on laundry management. I will welcome the opportunity to speak at laundry meetings and may try to write a great American novel.
I have a number of projects at home I have been putting off because of a lack of time, including all the genealogical files that my dad left me on the Frederick family in America. I have my large garden plot to keep me busy, plus my five children and 10 grandchildren who are scattered all over the United States.
For those young managers in the laundry business, I would encourage them to catch the vision of the future of this great industry and develop the talents needed to meet the challenges that will come along. I for one believe in the future of the industry and marvel at the quality of the managers who accidentally fall into this career.
I hope this column will answer the questions that keep coming my way as to why my current position is posted and what I am planning to do in the immediate future.