APACHE JUNCTION, Ariz. — Kenney Slatten, a third-generation dry cleaner, trainer and industry expert, died Oct. 15 after a battle with cancer.
After serving in the Marines, Slatten went on to open six drycleaning stores in Houston, Texas, in the early 1970s. During this time, he began branching out into the training side of the industry. After selling his stores in 1979, Slatten started training cleaners for major drycleaning franchises. In 1987, he went independent, forming the Kenney Slatten Training Company (KSTC).
Slatten would go on to become a certified instructor for the then-International Fabricare Institute (IFI) in 1991, served as executive director for the Western States Drycleaners & Launderers Association (WSDLA) for several years, and was a board member of the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (DLI) for four years. He was also a member of the Cleaning and Laundry Association Executives (CLAE).
Slatten specialized in environmental issues in the drycleaning field, working for a decade in California as that state started to investigate perchloroethylene and its effects on health and the environment. He became a subject-matter expert, helping cleaners comply with new state licensing requirements.
A long-time columnist for Cleaner and Launderer, Slatten also wrote for American Drycleaner and other industry publications. Famous for his trademark Stetson hat, Slatten was a well-known and respected voice in the industry.
“After meeting in ’94, we knew we had found a kindred spirit,” says Martin Young, an industry trainer, consultant and American Drycleaner columnist. “We were on opposite coasts, but we were both deeply involved with the EPA and state offices of natural resources. When I looked out and saw that Stetson, I knew that it would soon be time for an exchange of impressions of alternative solvents and the latest equipment, followed by a few war stories of plants we had tried to rehabilitate. Kenney was a good man, wanting to help make the industry better.”
Survivors include his wife, Janet. The family plans to hold a memorial service at a later date, when public gatherings are safer, according to Young.