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Plant Design Awards Grand Prize Winner: D.O. Summers Cleaners

Representing the third of four generations of Goldbergs to operate the 125-year-old Cleveland-based chain, Brett Goldberg entered the latest D.O. Summers plant in American Drycleaner's 48th Annual Plant Design Awards as a testament to his father. “I wanted to do it this year to dedicate it to him,” he says. “Three generations helped build this.”
The new plant would make his father proud. A relatively straightforward plant-on-premises, the location is the result of four years of back-and-forth between developers, operators, contractors and distributors. “It was an open-ended project,” says Jerry Moore of Moore Services, D.O. Summers’ distributor and a longtime friend of the family.
Part of a redevelopment initiative that would turn an industrial area into a mixed-use “lifestyle” center, the parcel slated for the new plant was hemmed in by a creek and the street. “We had to build right up to the property line,” Goldberg says. “You couldn’t just set the building wherever you wanted it.”
Worse, the plot was previously the home of a Speedway gas station; the lot still has monitoring wells on it from a remediation that had nothing to do with drycleaning. “They dug out a lot of dirt and put sand in,” Goldberg says, offering a shifty foundation. “We had to start by pouring caissons.”
Even so, Hudson — a bucolic community of 22,000 halfway between Cleveland and Akron — appealed to Goldberg as “a nice, upscale community. It’s the closest thing to the areas we like to be in.”
Today, the plant fits right in, although customers must perform a U-turn into its drive-thru to avoid backups onto the street in front. Clerks place garments on the passenger side of the car for true carhop service. “The ‘wrong’ side makes service even better,” Goldberg says. “People tend to leave their clothes across from them anyway.” Drivers can also stuff dirties into an Iowa Techniques 24-hour dropbox from their windows.
Inside, the spotless call office features tastefully framed promotional graphics and four pickup stations equipped with DCCS terminals. D.O. Summers processes everything for same-day pickup, storing garments briefly on a serpentine rack and 1,000-slot White conveyor. “Everything in by 11:00 is out by 5:00,” Goldberg says. “Everything is accounted for, every day.”
The plant processes garments using Realstar and Union hydrocarbon machines; B&C, UniMac and Wascomat washers; and traditional and tensioning equipment from Cissell, Sankosha and Unipress. A former uniform suppler, the operation often prefinishes garments using a Leonard steam tunnel.
The plant is the chain’s first to use Sankosha collar/cuffers, which Goldberg says eliminate steps with tensioning. “We’re always looking for new ideas to produce better quality and make things user-friendly for employees,” Goldberg says. For their comfort, three five-ton Chiller Manufacturing rooftop units cool the plant, while the plant’s Fulton boiler and Hamilton Eliminator are accessible from the exterior of the building to ease maintenance.
After just a year in business, the compact, comfortable plant is on track to meet sales targets, perhaps settling a bet between the friends — and serving as a posthumous acknowledgment of the elder Goldberg’s input and hard work.

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected] .