CHICAGO — In the September issue, American Laundry News highlighted four women who have achieved success in the laundry and linen services industry.
In the conclusion of the two-part series, the spotlight shines on three more outstanding women in the industry.
This final online installment features Kristin Dempsey, vice president of Dempsey Uniform & Linen Supply in Jessup, Pennsylvania.
KRISTEN DEMPSEY, DEMPSEY UNIFORM & LINEN SUPPLY
Dempsey says that being a woman in the laundry and linen services industry has “been a positive. My father had great friends in the industry and they welcomed me into textile rental. They always seemed happy to see diversity entering the industry, and I worked hard to earn their respect.”
She grew up around the business her father and uncle started in 1959. In high school, she says she expressed her interest in joining the business and asked her father what to study.
“He said, ‘You need an efficient, productive plant to be successful in this business, so start with an engineering degree,’” Dempsey shares. “I graduated with an engineering degree from Princeton, then he had me round out my skills with an MBA before coming back to work with him.”
Today, she spends most of her time in sales and marketing, but she also works closely with human resources and route accounting. Dempsey says she and her brother, P.J., work together to drive the strategic vision for the company.
“I view the big successes through the eyes of the company as a whole,” she points out. “Shortly after I returned to the company in 1994, we made our first acquisition of another operating laundry, Mary MacIntosh. My experience running that first remote location was foundational to my success as an owner.”
In 2019, the company acquired WH Linen, which provides restaurant linen service to fine-dining restaurants in New York City.
“It’s still amazing to realize the little company we started in Scranton now services the biggest city in the United States,” shares Dempsey.
In August, the company celebrated its 61st anniversary and the successful transition of a family business to the next generation.
“Our tenure has been the best defense against our competition because our long-term customers and skilled employees know we’re in this for the long-term with them,” Dempsey says.
When it comes to advice for other women in the industry, she points to education and experience.
“The strong support of my father and uncle, Dick Dempsey, kept me focused on learning the trade,” shares Dempsey. “In the early years, I worked closely with our operations manager, Tom Mallas, who really taught me plant operations.
“Other members of our cost group, like Bob Brill from Republic Master Chefs, spend time ëin the weeds’ explaining how they handled billing systems and inventory management at their companies. They extended my learning beyond the four walls of Dempsey.”
She goes on to say, “Learn the plant and route service. They are the cornerstones of our business, and it’s difficult to advance without understanding them at the front line level.
“I ran a route for a year and a plant for three years. My decision-making is still influenced by those experiences.”
Miss Part 1 about Vicky Cayetano, president and founder of United Laundry Services, a division of PureStar in Hawaii? Click HERE to read it. And you can click HERE to read Part 2 with Susan Smith-Franks, environmental and linen services director for Aramark at Middlesex Health in Middletown, Connecticut.
Spotlight on Women in Laundry (Part 1), Sept. 8, 2020
Spotlight on Women in Laundry (Part 2), Sept. 10, 2020
Spotlight on Women in Laundry (Conclusion), Sept. 15, 2020