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Who’s the Expert Here?

Ken Tyler |

An AmericanLaundryNews.com exclusive.

CHICAGO — If one has never designed a laundry or been involved in such a process directly, they should make a concerted effort to locate someone with that expertise and experience to accomplish such an effort.

Not only must one never assume they know the ins and outs of laundry design and operations without direct or indirect experience, they and those responsible for such entities should never assert that they are even remotely qualified to manage such a process.

Laundry design requires expertise in facility management, construction, interior design and lighting, textiles, chemistry, electrical and mechanical engineering, plant layout, distribution processes, safety, support systems, and laundry systems.

And this expertise should be coupled with the ability to write performance-oriented specifications that will virtually guarantee a customer’s equipment and building support systems, as well as infrastructure, meet all parameters specified.

You would assume that anyone in such a position of responsibility would have a sound knowledge base of available systems and a true understanding of the process to achieve design and operational goals. But true expertise in our industry is becoming less and less apparent.

Some of this is driven by the industry we serve, as top management hires those who are not competent. They select individuals to serve in the roles of industry advisers when they, in many cases, don’t have the résumés to fill the expected prerequisites, i.e. the “good ole boy” scenario.

It continually amazes me that our industry seems to place itself in a mode of being somewhat irresponsible. True, many folks could learn on the job, but where are the advocates and trainers who are qualified to take the lead and teach without prejudice to a certain process?

Industry seems to enjoy allowing untrained folks to reach for the top without fully appreciating the potential negative impact. If a person is placed into a position of authority and then speaks or acts in error, the risk of damage is huge.

I encourage you to express your objections to editors of periodicals, federal inspectors or accreditation reviewers about what may be contrary to the issues at hand. For example, when someone whose operation has been cited for a violation poses a question about laundry chemistry, how much do they really want to hear about equipment or operational techniques that have virtually nothing to do with their situation? Let yourself be heard.

(And if you are a so-called expert in purchasing processes, don’t confuse your experience with the qualifications needed to be an expert in laundry design and operations.)

Sit back and ask yourself, how does my ability—or inability—to support major efforts and to meet deadlines impact my co-workers, my organization, and my customers?

About the author

Ken Tyler

Encompass LLC

Vice President of Government Operations, Encompass LLC

Tyler is the vice president of government operations for Georgia-based Encompass LLC, a manufacturer and marketer of woven and nonwoven products for the healthcare and hospitality industries.
But he may be best known for having managed the entire textile and laundry operations for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for 23 years. Earlier, he was the director of textile and uniform operations for the Department of the Navy, where he was responsible for all fleet and base laundry operations. He retired from the VA in 2000, ending 35 years of government service.
A decorated combat veteran, Tyler also retired from the U.S. Marine Corps with 27 years of total service.
Tyler planned and managed the design and construction of some 57 VA laundries and consolidated operations that resulted in cost benefits reaching $250 million. He established quality standards for laundry system inspections. He received numerous awards, including special recognitions from U.S. presidents.
Today, he remains active through his role with Encompass, and serves on the Government and Healthcare committees of the Textile Rental Services Association (TRSA) and an industry liaison group for the American Society for Healthcare Environmental Services (ASHES). He's also an industry adviser to the General Services Administration, a member of The Joint Commission's Environment of Care Industry Task Group and an advisory subcommittee member to the Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council (HLAC).

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