CHICAGO — Flor Castillo, owner of Sierra Vista, Ariz.-based Flora’s Dry Cleaning & Alterations, tells her story: “My journey began when I had a small taste of being a business owner. I worked for Lloyd’s Dry Cleaners for over eight years where I put my sweat, tears and hard work into the business.”
One day, she notes, “The owners saw how hard I worked and how I was dedicated to this industry so they offered me the opportunity to buy their business. Unfortunately, the deal fell through. I thought that all my hard work and dreams were gone. I cried myself to sleep every night thinking what could’ve been.
“While I was in this journey with that cleaners, I came across an angel that would guide me to my next dream. His name is Edward Molina. He was a customer and later became my business consultant.
“He offered me the opportunity to become business partners. Sadly, to say, after a while he decided to walk away from my dream. Once again, I found myself lost and nowhere to go from there.”
Castillo relates how, as the days went by, a vision came to her: She saw herself surrounded by her family and her husband with their emotional and financial support. “I knew at that moment, I could accomplish my dream,” she says. Flora’s Dry Cleaning & Alterations was recently named winner of an American Drycleaner 2019 Plant Design Award for Outstanding Plant-On-Premises.
“But at that same time, and with a lot of fear, I knew I was no longer buying an existing business, but creating one from the ground up!”
She explains, “I took what I learned and began by looking for a building which ended up being a perfect location on our busiest street, 970 E. Fry Blvd.
How did you decide on the layout and why is it designed that way?
Castillo answers over the phone recently from her busy plant, her noticeably hurried voice competing with loud drycleaning noises: “We are so busy working-working all the time but my answer is we needed to take advantage of every square inch of space available in our plant that we had to work with. It’s a small space as you can see, so we just tried to use all of it the best way we could. That’s it.”
She relates that her and her father Victor are excited at winning the Outstanding Plant-on-Premises award but also she can’t stay on the phone, “We’ve got work to do! But thank you so much!”
Flor knew from the outset she was going to need employees and she ended up at the unemployment center, Arizona@work, where she found some help. “It was hard to find the employees that I needed because we all know it’s a labor-intensive job,” she notes.
“Finally the team came together, but with no knowledge in the drycleaning industry!” She exclaims. “So, I came up with a plan to train my employees. I made up a mock drycleaning store in the adjacent building to get them prepared for opening day.”
Castillo, in her own words: “We have a Unipress automatic legger, all-purpose utility presser, pant topper, Thunder series single buck body press, air bag sleever, collar and cuff press, and hot head jeans press.
“We have a Fulton 20-hp stainless steel boiler with night switch; REMA dri-vac system with stainless steel tank; an Ingersoll 10-hp air compressor; a Rheem water heater; and a Huebsch 70-pound soft-mount washer extractor, and 50-pound gas dryer,” she explains.
“Installer Chino Martinez from Sheen Equipment, was responsible for our equipment layout,” Castillo points out.
“Our chemical distributor,” she says, “is Kurt Gnadt who represents Laundry & Cleaners Equipment out of Phoenix. Tom Newnreiter programmed our washer.
“M&M Diversified is our general contractor. George Lounsbury and Rincon Services is our engineer and plant designer. Joe Demaro from Streets programmed our drycleaning machine.
“Our carts are by Steele Canvas Baskets. The POS is Liberty Computer Systems,” she adds.
“The space is small so I wanted to make sure we used it wisely. I have accomplished making it through this first year of business, and am looking forward to making it another 30 years,” Castillo says.
To read Part 1, go HERE.