As my chairmanship on the Coin Laundry Association Board of Directors comes to a close, I want to reflect on both my personal growth and evolution… as well as that of the CLA.

The CLA, which works to grow and better the vended laundry industry, is ever-changing to adapt to new industry trends and bring forward key tools and information to laundry owners. With this in mind, the CLA Board is comprised of laundry operators, manufacturers and distributors, with at least half of the Board seats filled by store owners.

Coming from varied backgrounds, each board member brings a different perspective to the group. However, over time, those perspectives evolve as individuals work together, break out into focused committees, and propose and launch new initiatives. Taking on challenges in teams, interfacing with volunteers, and getting to know the CLA staff and leadership brings personal growth, opportunity and lifelong friendships.
I’ve personally experienced and witnessed board members evolve through their service. Sometimes they come in with a hard line on a particular point. But, typically, each of us begins to understand the others’ perspectives more clearly. When I started my service with the CLA, I wasn’t sure how I would fit in and contribute. As I went on, I evolved and became more focused on the best interest of the industry and its needs. My point is that everyone finds his or her role and grows into that role and volunteer service.

Serving for the past 10 years has been a great experience. I’ve developed close friendships, gained valuable knowledge and perspective, and become a better industry contributor.

Just as the CLA Board evolves, so does the industry and the association’s service requirements. Laundromats are much more than public washing and drying services for a small demographic sliver. Today’s laundry centers are a visible, active part of their communities, offering a multitude of laundry services to their markets’ entire demographic. Because about 80 percent of traditional, self-service laundry business occurs over two or three days of the week, other services have cropped up to spur revenue from attendants and idle machines. Wash-dry-fold services have evolved into a valuable revenue stream and needed public service that has exploded our industry into a whole new realm of target demographic. Add drycleaning/textile care partnerships, commercial accounts, and pickup and delivery to the mix and suddenly a laundromat is serving all possible customer types within its demographic. It’s also expanded service to customers who never knew the industry existed.

Laundries have grown in size and scope. Thus, investment requirements for purchasing existing laundries and developing new ones have resulted in a new investor with a much greater list of needs. Laundry revenue must be greater, because the investment and fixed costs are greater. So, today’s community laundry looks at capturing more customers through multiple services that generate multiple revenue streams.

In turn, the CLA constantly strives to bring value to the ever-evolving laundry market by helping laundry owners improve revenue, profit and community outreach. The CLA is the resource center for everything laundry. It’s a hub where owners come together, share ideas and network. It touts a vast toolbox that spans research, marketing tactics and support materials; startup and operations content; process educational training; and more. The CLA is behind the scenes and on the frontlines, providing outreach and education through online resources, local Connect LIVE events, representing industry interests in tax and legislative issues, and LaundryCares Foundation community outreach efforts.

Serving the industry and this association has been my privilege. I encourage you to get involved and be informed through the CLA. The lucky few who have volunteered their time and energy in service to the industry, through service on the Board, share a special experience. I’ve learned firsthand through my service that we enjoy a stronger industry when working together!

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