As we head into 2016, I’d like to reflect on some of the successes of 2015.

In my mind, the greatest accomplishment of 2015 was the Coin Laundry Association’s revitalization of its LaundryCares Foundation. As many of you know, LaundryCares has been around since 2006, just months after Hurricane Katrina struck. However, the CLA’s charitable organization really had no direction. Then, in 2015, we found two very complementary organizations with which to partner, and we executed five successful events with them.

Our first partner is The Laundry Project, which is based out of southern Florida. Its mission has been to bring laundry services to communities in need by randomly selecting impoverished areas and providing a free laundry day for the residents. Our Board of Directors felt The Laundry Project would be a great partner for LaundryCares, because it could assist in developing programs that would enable our members to give back to their communities through the services we provide.

Our second initiative is more of a conglomeration of multiple entities to enhance literacy through laundromats. The program is called “Wash Time is Talk Time.” You may have caught a glimpse of this partnership in the article about the free laundry day we sponsored in October. CLA President and CEO Brian Wallace and the CLA team will have a lot more news about this program in the coming months, as the association makes it available to all members.

Both of these programs are stepping-off points to the LaundryCares Foundation’s future as a focal point to support the good work many of us are doing in our communities – and to empower all within the industry to be better community partners.

In 2015, we also held an overwhelmingly successful Clean Show. The attendance was better than anticipated, and all of the feedback indicated it was an exceptional venue and event.

Of course, next on the calendar is the third Excellence in Laundry Conference to be held in Ojai, Calif., in May. Again, Wallace and the CLA staff have put together a program that combines the highest quality education with opportunities to network with the leaders in our industry. Excellence in Laundry registration opened a few months ago, and I clearly remember the day, because I was part of an email chain between many leaders in the industry who were already talking about registering for the event! Although we have expanded the number of spots available from 200 to 225, I know we still won’t have enough for everyone who wants to be there.

Lastly, I’d like to recognize the success of the Iowa Self Service Laundry Association in their five-year legislative effort, which culminated with last summer’s successful repeal of a sales tax that had been on the books in Iowa for more than 20 years. ISSLA President Daryl Johnson and the rest of the CLA members in Iowa worked extremely hard – and I’m excited for their success as we look to 2016.

Of course, the state of Illinois is seriously looking at its tax base for more revenue, and several other states also are considering their revenue bases and what changes they can make to improve their balance sheets.

Nationally, we’re still following the threat of Congress and the U.S. Mint to reformat the coin system we use in this country. In 2015, the CLA staff and Board member Michael Finkelstein were critical components of a lobbying group that tabled this discussion. However, it appears now that Congress is still pushing this topic and will reevaluate it in 2016.

Although it’s important for us to monitor and act on such trends, let us not lose sight of the tremendous work of the CLA. Its members nationwide continue to enrich their communities in ways that transcend laundry services and genuinely contribute to the common good.

I wish everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous 2016 – and I look forward to taking part in the many progressive initiatives of which the CLA can truly be proud to be a part!

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