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Merit Winners of The 47th Annual Plant Design Awards

Ian P. Murphy |

Whether the plant is an established hub of the community or a vanguard of new development, each of the runners up in American Drycleaner's 47th Annual Plant Design Awards displayed improved efficiencies, outstanding aesthetics and exceptional comfort. Congratulations to the 10 Merit Award-winning plants!Admiral Cleaners, Annapolis, Md.
Celebrating 75 years of family ownership, Scott and Whitney Kerridge pulled out all the stops for their new plant and headquarters. Locating it in a newly redeveloped area of Annapolis, the building helps anchor a $250 million development that includes hotels, condominiums and office buildings.
The freestanding, 5,000-square-foot building features clean lines, natural stone details and all-new equipment. With seven pressing stations, cross-trained employees and a streamlined production line, the new plant is so efficient that it has reduced employee overtime while doubling production output.
Railex equipment shuttles clothing from station to station in the plant to limit needless steps, and a Chiller spot-cooling system maintains comfort for the operation’s 19 staffers. And Admiral serves up convenience at a double drive-thru with in-car service — even welcoming same-day orders for processing.Alan Dry Cleaners, Miami, Fla.
It’s not how much you process or how much money you make, says Alan Dry Cleaners operator Mikhail Braverman, it’s how you do it and what you give back. Over the years, the operation has been involved in community programs promoting breast cancer awareness, job development and more, winning many friends and clients in the process.
With such an emphasis on community involvement, the company’s new, 6,000-square-foot plant is as much a centerpiece of its working-class neighborhood as it is a full-service drycleaning business. There are no busy access roads leading here, but there’s plenty of word-of-mouth.
Featuring a stately Southern-style design, arched windows and a tropical paint scheme, the plant welcomes customers and other well-wishers with three covered drive-thru stations, a full alterations department and six service desks. And thanks to an appreciative community, the five sets of conveyors stay full.Best Cleaners, Middletown, Conn.
Owners William and Shawn McCann built their latest plant-on-premises — their 11th — along a busy road between New Haven and Hartford to take advantage of the traffic. While it sets back from the road, the new plant prominently features a drive-thru and a digital sign at its turn-in, so commuters and customers can’t miss the cozy-cottage building.
 
Meeting busy customers’ needs, the  1,900-square-foot plant is built for speed in production, too. Best uses a Leonard Automatics tunnel to prefinish garments and White auto-assembly conveyors to sort them into orders. All garments are bar-coded for tracking efficiency. The operation’s motto? “Fastest, Freshest, Friendliest, Best.”
A GreenEarth plant, the operation now also emphasizes how friendly its environmental positioning is — inside the call office, the modern-minimalist counters are constructed of sustainable bamboo and recycled glass.Brite-Kleen Signature Cleaners, Billerica, Mass.
Brite-Kleen operator Roger Mirchandani was ready to exit the industry when he rediscovered his spark at Clean ’05 in Orlando. He decided to develop a new Signature line that would impress customers and keep employees happy, too.
He picked out an unusual, 4,000-square-foot hillside strip location, and put the pressing stations on the upper level, behind the counters. The lower level contains drycleaning production, a delivery bay and all piping — making for an unobstructed presentation upstairs. A Saritoga Vertiveyor shuttles the work between levels alongside the staircase.
Under 17-foot ceilings, finishing stations are air-conditioned and lint-free, thanks to a Sonicaire fan. At the front counter, a professional’s palette of greens and browns greets customers and raises their expectations for the operation’s upgraded Signature service — which costs more than the old-reliable Brite-Kleen quality.Colorado Mountain Cleaners, Frisco, Colo.
With industrial space hard to find in Colorado’s ski country, operator Thomas Rowland jumped at the chance to turn a recently vacated furniture warehouse into a production plant to service his three dry stores and two routes.
Today, the 4,300-square-foot space is a state-of-the-art production plant. Colorado Mountain runs GreenEarth solvent in Union and Firbimatic machines, and performs pressing on a selection of brand-new Unipress equipment. The plant picked a Parker boiler as the most reliable at this altitude, and a Continental flatwork ironer for wholesale sheets.
While the plant doesn’t need a front counter, Rowland regularly offers tours of the clean, bright new space to Colorado Mountain’s commercial customers to explain the drycleaning process. And the plant’s seven employees enjoy such comforts as a 22-foot ceiling and a fully equipped breakroom every day.Crystal Cleaners, Glendale, Calif.
While Crystal Cleaners’ new location in Glendale isn’t a production plant, this 1,300-square-foot drop store wins merit for combining branding and appearance. Taking the arty vibe of his marketing campaigns into the call office, owner Robert Yepremian brought a distinctive look to the marketplace.
Using an “environmentally friendly” alternative and pressing to perfection offsite, the drop store offers an “art gallery” setting for clothing pickup. Crystal features smooth wood floors, glass countertops and mid-century pendant lights for an urbane, clean presentation.
Crystal’s advertising campaigns, customer materials, business cards and poly bags use Pop Art in the style of Roy Lichtenstein to illustrate the range of modern clothing dilemmas that the store can fix. The art is repeated prominently in the store’s décor, while oversized type directs customers to the alterations area and dressing room.Greensleeves Garment Care, Glen Cove, N.Y.
Thomas Davis’ Greensleeves operation emphasizes “environmentally friendly” positioning at its Long Island plant, promoting the use of GreenEarth’s silicon-based solvent and wetcleaning processes exclusively.
The tasteful call office inside the small storefront features granite countertops and Early American furnishings, while recalling Greensleeves earth-friendly message with live palm trees and a 150-gallon saltwater aquarium full of exotic tropical fish. Greensleeves also uses consumer-recyclable shirt hangers.
Workers perform finishing on a variety of Trevil tensioning equipment, and the operation salaries most of its employees to emphasize perfection instead of pieces per operator hour (PPOH). Inspection is so exacting that just over half of all garments are judged “perfect” on the first attempt, Davis says; the rest must go back to the floor for a touch-up.Millennium Dry Cleaners, Allen, Texas
Millennium Cleaners’ fourth plant in the greater Dallas area may be the coolest new kid on the block. Located on almost an acre, operator Tony Saki’s 5,250-square-foot, freestanding building features a wide, open double drive-thru that accommodates any vehicle easily.
Inside, the plant encourages customer comfort with high-speed Internet access and Starbucks coffee all day long. Employees enjoy an air-conditioned breakroom, and the production area is spot-cooled by two five-ton chilled-water systems.
The plant’s most unique feature is a beautiful, custom-designed waterfall and fish pond adjacent to the drive-thru, which garners lots of attention from customers and potential customers alike. The Millennium plant actually proved to be a good advertisement for the builder, who has installed at least a dozen similar waterfalls for others in the neighborhood since the plant opened.Monroeville Cleaners, Monroeville, Pa.
Tod Berky’s new 4,000-square-foot plant lies on a hillside in the same small town outside Pittsburgh where it launched more than 40 years ago. But the pastoral setting is seeing new growth, and Monroeville Cleaners is ready for it.
Located just off a major highway, the new plant’s stucco façade rises above the trees to be a billboard for passing drivers. Upon exiting into the plant, customers are shuttled under the double drive-thru’s canopy, where they have the choice of coming in or staying in their cars. The location is also convenient for handling the operation’s growing route services.
Inside, the shotgun-style production floor is in full view — the operation has nothing to hide from customers. Designed ground-up for improved production, the plant features traditional and tensioning equipment from Hoffman/New Yorker, a Fluidaire cooling tower and a White up/down conveyor.Ziker Cleaners & Shirt Laundry, South Bend, Ind.
Undertaking a two-year remodeling project, David Ziker's 20,000-square-foot, turn-of-the-20th-century plant is finally equipped to handle all of the 21st-century operation’s nine stores and five routes.
During the overhaul, Ziker jettisoned its conventional finishing equipment completely and replaced it with more than 15 pieces of state-of-the-art Sankosha tensioning equipment. The latest technology helps track orders, too: Every garment is bar-coded, and MetalProgetti sorting conveyors bring everything together. 
The operation processes garments in small batches from check-in to assembly to maintain good workflows, and two inspectors work to maintain high quality. The renovation has improved quality and customer service immensely. The streamlined, efficient layout has cut labor nearly 30%, plant manger John Mertes reports, increased on-time performance and eliminated misassembled orders entirely.
 

About the author

Ian P. Murphy

American Drycleaner

Ian P. Murphy is a freelance writer based in Chicago, and was the editor of American Drycleaner from 1999 to 2011.

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