Machine Mania (Conclusion)


Gleaming Machines! Drycleaning machines and wetcleaning machines are both in use at many plants today. (Photo: Tim Burke)

Tim Burke |

Purchasers become the alpha or beta installation test site

CHICAGO — Rise of the Machines!

That might make you envision Terminators. But machines, for purposes of this article, are drycleaning machines and wetcleaning machines working reliably and efficiently in your plants today.

You’re using both. But what goes into the decision-making process when drycleaning owners get ready to buy machines? We really wanted to know.

An unscientific Your Views survey by American Drycleaner polled subscribers back in February to ask: How many drycleaning and/or wetcleaning machines do you have? The results came back showing a nearly 50/50 relationship in machine types.

It’s telling that drycleaning and wetcleaning machines seem to be needed just about equally today.

Recently, three drycleaning owners spoke individually to American Drycleaner about what goes into their decision to use both wet and dry machines in their plants.

Jan Barlow, owner of Jan’s Cleaners in Clio, Mich., a suburb of Flint, started her business 36 years ago. She shares her experiences when deciding to buy machines.

“Over the past several years, while the industry was finding a perc replacement, we shifted our workflow from 80% dry cleaning and 20% wet cleaning to 30% dry cleaning and 70% wet cleaning. Until this past year, when a new modified alcohol came on the U.S. market, which cleans like perc, adds a new brightness to the cleaning process, and the hand of a hydrocarbon.

“We are changing our workflow back to 60% dry cleaning and 40% wet cleaning, with continued plans to move the ratio back to 80/20.”

She explains: “To protect our business from the shrinking demographics of this industry, Jan’s specialized in bringing all our work to one plant through pickup and delivery, which includes personal, household items from the client’s home, office, and fire and water damage.

“I have purchased both wet- and drycleaning machines. All the machines clean, some just clean better than others. Some cost more than others. Some require more maintenance than others.”

Barlow thinks that “It’s harder today to purchase than in the past because so much machinery gets out on the market before it’s adequately tested. So the innovative purchaser becomes the alpha or beta installation test site.”

What about sharing a tip when buying a machine?

“What I have learned over the years is everyone will take the plunge once or twice to try the new product, for the good of the industry.

“My measurements for a successful decision are in the cost to purchase, then the resulting labor and supply cost savings. I look for quality because once a decision is made, I don’t want to think about it again until depreciation of the equipment has passed for a few years and then some,” Barlow says.

These are three drycleaner owners’ opinions about buying machines. No doubt many of you reading rely on your own knowledge of what you’ve learned making machine purchases for your plants. One thing is for sure, all these machine choices, dry or wet, indicate a fabricare industry that is thriving. So rise, machines, rise!

To read Part 1, go HERE.

About the author

Tim Burke

American Drycleaner


Tim Burke is the editor of American Drycleaner. He can be reached at 312-361-1684 or [email protected]


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