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TRSA Hosts First in Series of Executive Roundtables

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Matt Alexander, Jim Pellerin
Matt Alexander (left), Pertl & Alexander, and Jim Pellerin, Pellerin Milnor Corp., examine a lowboy trailer during a laundry tour at Walt Disney World. (Photo: David Chadsey)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Textile Rental Services Association (TRSA) last month hosted the first of six Executive Roundtables planned for 2012, providing members with benchmarking information designed to improve operations, performance, productivity and safety.

TRSA President Joseph Ricci says his association’s members are always looking for opportunities for innovation. “Differentiation with unique goods and services provide a niche for new market entry and the financial premiums associated with those opportunities,” he explains.

This gathering covered issues impacting the restaurant/food-and-beverage and hotel/lodging markets. A representative of Darden Restaurants—the world’s largest full-service restaurant company, including the Red Lobster, Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse brands—took part in the roundtable discussion, promoting the exchange of information from customer to service provider.

Industry consultants from Pertl & Alexander led discussions on linen loss and replacement for hospitality and food-and-beverage (F&B) applications. Attendees were invited to tour three Walt Disney World laundries, each with a special application and purpose.

The Housekeeping Plant processes rooms linen and pool towels for the nearly 30,000 Disney World hotel guestrooms. It produces more clean linen than any other single laundry location in the world—nearly 120 million pounds annually. The 16-year-old facility operates seven tunnel washers (that are targeted for replacement) and an automated open-pocket cell. 

The emphasis on throughput production is clear, but not at the risk of sacrificing quality. Quality control is ongoing, including a station that randomly evaluates linen before shipment.

Bob Corfield, president of Laundry Design Group, appreciated the production and efficiency of the housekeeping plant, but was eager to see how Disney handled its considerable costume and uniform requirements.

After a short bus ride, the group toured the Costume Facility that processes 29,000 costumes and cast member uniforms every day. 

Curt Gray, chief administrative officer for AmeriPride Services in Minnetonka, Minn., says he felt more at home in the uniform plant environment. His goal was to better understand how a world-class organization like Walt Disney World integrates its service culture into the industrial laundry environment.

After going through the plants, Gray commented that the net result of what Disney accomplishes appears to be the sum of doing a lot of little things right.

The Costume Facility tours like a morph between a large drycleaning shop and a production industrial plant (it also processes all walk-off mats used in the theme park). Equipment includes four drycleaning machines, two wetclean washers, and an assortment of washer-extractors.

Terri Amey, Disney’s costume plant manager, attributes the production and quality to the plant’s “cast.” Average term of service among full-time employees there is 19.5 years.

Pablo Lucchesi of Crown Linen, Miami, was particularly interested in touring Disney’s Food and Beverage Plant, as F&B is a growth center for his company.

Disney’s F&B facility provides table linen for the 200 park restaurant outlets servicing 32 different color options.

F&B delivery drivers arrive at work at 2 a.m. Pickups and deliveries are made in the early-morning hours using lowboy trailers. They are equipped with ramps that eliminate lift-gate requirements, reducing delivery times and improving operator safety.

The next TRSA Executive Roundtable is scheduled for May and will involve operational and market issues specific to national textile services companies.

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