NEW YORK — In new research by the Columbia (University) Aging Center, a local drycleaning business was prominently featured. Employees at Bridge Cleaners & Tailors were interviewed as part of the Age Smart Industry Guides, which were released last week.
The guides offer strategies and solutions from more than 100 small-business owners in four New York City industries: food services, manufacturing and skilled trades, family-owned businesses and non-profit organizations. The main focus of the research presented is the value that older workers bring to these companies.
During a press conference, Richard Aviles, owner of Bridge Cleaners & Tailors, spoke about his Brooklyn business. Older people innately possess relationship-building skills that the younger generation lacks, he says. The 29-year-old Aviles and his 63-year-old mother approach business in different qualitative and quantitative ways, which complement each other and make for better business, he adds.
Gabriella Lawson, an older worker and senior service representative, has been with Bridge Cleaners & Tailors for about two years. She described being trained by a “girl” less than half her age. Lawson says she’s led by example how to care for customers, while the trainer taught the technical side of the job. Those two aspects of the job play off each other and combine to provide better customer service.
It’s estimated that small businesses (100 workers or fewer) make up 99% of New York City businesses. Many of these 200,000 businesses see high worker turnover or have unfilled positions. However, the city has 700,000 workers older than 55, many of whom want or need to work past the traditional retirement age.
Ruth Finkelstein, director of the Age Smart Employer program and associate director of Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center, says that the new “Age Smart Industry Guides” provide “a distillation of our research to bring good experiences to light from small business in New York City in order to influence the behavior of other small businesses.”
The Age Smart Industry Guide featuring Bridge Cleaners & Tailors’ contributions is available for download HERE.
The other Guides can be found at the Age Smart Employer website.