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Owen Cleaners Celebrates 100 Years

Adapting and innovating key to success, and it cleaned for the movies

PADUCAH, Ky. — Owen Cleaners, Inc., which was opened in 1920 by two brothers, is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, it notes.


Third generation owners David and wife Carolyn Perry relate that, “We plan to make 2020 a very special year as we thank all of our customers for their longstanding support.”


Carolyn, a granddaughter of one of the original owners, reflects on the past: “I can recall as a young girl when Owen Cleaners was asked to do cleaning for the movie, How the West Was Won. According to my father, we were even asked to tailor some of the dresses for Debbie Reynolds,” she relates.


“We later did cleaning for the movie The River Rat starring Tommy Lee Jones and a hanger from Owen Cleaners was even featured in the movie,” she adds.


Two brothers, Horace and Tully Owen, founded the company, and Horace Owen became the sole proprietor in 1933. In 1950 Gene Katterjohn, Jr., son-in-law to Horace, joined and ran the business until 1992, when David and Carolyn purchased the company from her father. David Perry currently serves as president, and Carolyn Perry serves as secretary/treasurer.


David and Carolyn point out that a secret to the company’s success has been the dedication and support of many excellent employees over the years.


David says, “Mr. Owen had many employees who worked with him for decades and Gene had several employees with 40 years of service. Even since 1992, Carolyn and I have enjoyed working with many employees on our team with over 20 years of service.”


He adds that, “The fact that so many of our employees get to know and serve our customers over many years only enhances the sense of loyalty that customers have to Owen Cleaners.”


David Perry talks about the challenges for any business to sustain itself for a century: “The only way to survive is to constantly adapt and evolve. While some may think that dry cleaning is a static business, it actually must constantly adapt to changes in fabrics, fashions, demographics, lifestyles and even technology,” he says.


Later in the 1990s, Owen Cleaners says it became the first dry cleaner in the U.S. to combine photo processing with drycleaning services. David says, “I first learned of this idea from a drycleaning company from Australia. The idea was that a busy mother could drop off rolls of film from a child’s birthday party while also dropping off the laundry.”


In 2002, Owen Cleaners was recognized as the Business of the Year by the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce, principally for the company’s 20-year partnership with the local Cal’s Coats For Kids.


“I think the secret to our success has been that all three generations have been very good at adapting and innovating as the times change,” notes David Perry.