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TRSA, UTSA Boards Vote to Restructure Operations; TRSA Providing Member Services

Bruce Beggs |

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The boards of directors of the Textile Rental Services Association (TRSA) and the Uniform & Textile Service Association (UTSA) have voted unanimously to restructure the operations of their associations, TRSA and UTSA members learned via e-mail late Thursday afternoon.
 
The final decision rests with the UTSA membership, who will be asked to formally approve the UTSA board’s action, and with the TRSA membership, who will be requested to amend TRSA’s articles of incorporation and bylaws to make way for some significant changes.
 
“Effective immediately, TRSA will assume responsibility for providing services for members of both associations,” says the e-mail signed by Greg Jeltema, TRSA chairman, and Jeff Wright, UTSA chairman. “UTSA will continue to exist as a corporation and will meet all of its corporate obligations, including its obligations under the Clean Show Operating Agreement.”
 
“Both boards agreed that the reorganization will greatly strengthen the industry's regulatory and government affairs programs, enhance the ability of the industry to provide member companies with educational materials, enable the industry to aggressively compete against disposables, and increase the level of services provided to members,” Jeltema and Wright say in their e-mail.
 TRSA CEO, STAFF RESPONSIBLE FOR DAILY OPERATIONS
 
Members of both associations should now look to the TRSA offices for member services. Roger Cocivera, president and CEO of TRSA, and his staff will be responsible for daily operations.
 
The TRSA staff will be enlarged to handle its increased responsibilities. There will be opportunities for members of the current UTSA staff to fill those roles, Cocivera added in a brief phone interview today.
 
In the second half of 2009, after the Clean Show, a committee will be appointed to conduct a search for Cocivera’s successor.
 
A Transition Committee of Tom Vozzo, Jeltema, Wright, Woody Ostrow and Jim Doro will oversee the shift. David Hobson, president and CEO of UTSA, will assist in the transition but will then leave the association after more than a decade of service.
 
Messages left by American Laundry News seeking comment from Hobson on the restructuring have not yet been returned.
 
Jeltema will remain TRSA chairman until his term expires in June 2009 during the Clean Show. Wright will then serve as chairman for one year, followed by Ostrow for one year.
 
Five UTSA members will be added to the TRSA board, and the TRSA Executive Committee will be expanded. Current committee members include Jeltema, Mike Potack, Ostrow, Susan Witcher, Pat Dempsey and Vozzo. Added will be Wright and Doro.
 
Standing committees within the two associations will meld. A list of members of the restructured committees, along with staff contacts at TRSA, will be sent to members.
 
All UTSA activities that were scheduled prior to the restructuring, including the Customer Service Conference in January 2009 and the next session of the Ehrlich-Stempler Executive Management Institute in August 2009, will take place as planned, Cocivera says.
 
All meetings will be open to all members.
 
Members will be billed for dues by TRSA according to TRSA dues schedule at the end of the year. “Efforts will be made to ensure that no member of UTSA has a substantially increased dues obligation,” the e-mail from Jeltema and Wright says.
 
Associate members will be expected to continue to provide strong industry support, including paying “the same level of dues and/or advertising as had been done in the past.”
 
UTSA members who previously received Industrial Launderer, the UTSA magazine, will now receive Textile Rental, the TRSA magazine, as well as the weekly TRSA e-mail and all other announcements, publications and meeting information.
 
The restructuring could impact inner workings of the Clean Show, which is sponsored by UTSA, TRSA and four other industry associations. UTSA will remain a sponsor for Clean ’09, says Cocivera, who is chairing the Clean Executive Committee in preparation for the event in New Orleans.
 
He says he doesn’t know if the restructuring will require the show sponsors to re-examine the Clean Show Operating Agreement.
 PREVIOUS MERGER ATTEMPTS FAILED
 
TRSA and UTSA have each served corporations engaged predominantly in textile service, e.g. providing commercial, industrial and institutional accounts with laundered uniforms, linens, walk-off mats and other workplace textiles through rental agreements.
 
They together reportedly represent more than 1,500 facilities and more than 90% of the textile service and supply industry. They’ve collaborated in environmental stewardship and production/maintenance management training programs for the industry while maintaining independent programs for their members.
 
There have been other attempts over the years to unite UTSA’s and TRSA’s operations. Most recently, in summer 2005, memberships of both associations voted to consolidate into the Uniform & Textile Rental Service Association (UTRSA) beginning in 2006.
 
But talks between TRSA and UTSA leadership broke down later in 2005 over issues such as president/CEO selection, budget adoption, staffing and more, and the consolidation didn’t occur.
 
UTSA’s origin dates back to 1933 when it was called the National Industrial and Cleaners Association. It became the Institute of Industrial Launderers (IIL) in 1947, as the original name was too close to the name of a company in the industry.
 
IIL changed its name to the Uniform & Textile Service Association in 1994, reflecting the greater importance to the industry of the provision of image- and identity-enhancing products to customers, rather than just the laundry service that accompanies them.
 
TRSA originated as the Ohio Linen Supply Association in 1913, became the Tri-State Linen Supply Association in 1916, and was renamed the Textile Rental Services Association of America in 1979.
 

About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.

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