Plant Design Awards—Grand Prize: Wooven (Part 1)

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The Wooven plant is located in an industrial park, mixed-use space in Pompano Beach, with easy access to major highways for covering Miami's "Tri-County" service area. (Photos: Jeff Wade, and Soderlund Architecture and Design)

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A worker loads a drycleaning machine at Wooven, Pompano Beach, Fla., the grand-prize winner in the 54th Annual Plant Design Awards. (File photo: Jeff Wade)

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Cleaning agents and solvents delivery system line the walls of Wooven's soap room.

Bruce Beggs |

It’s all white all right

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. — Dissatisfied with the drycleaning service they had received since moving to the United States from Russia a few years before, Elena and Vladimir Samofalov decided that dry cleaning could be a good business opportunity for them. Leaving their careers in law and engineering, respectively, they struck out to build their own drycleaning and laundry business.

Using previous business connections, they traveled throughout Europe and visited that country’s leading drycleaning plants. Elena received drycleaning training in the States. They sought the opinions of consultants foreign and domestic, and started to develop a European-style vision for what is now Wooven, a network of three drop stores (two in Boca Raton, the third in Wellington) serviced by an off-site production plant.

It took them a year to find the right plant location to suit their needs. Construction began in September 2013, and the 8,000-square-foot plant was up and running by April 2014, Elena says. Construction cost was pegged at $1.2 million.

“In Europe, everything about quality,” she says, her accent revealing her Russian roots. “In the United States, most everything about production. … Our main business idea was to make it more about quality—production, too—but more about quality. The main goal was to follow the technology.”

Aside from the modern drycleaning and laundry equipment ordered from European manufacturers, what may be most striking about this award-winning plant is that it is almost entirely white from floor to ceiling.

“We wanted it be something unlike anything else,” says Vicki Soderlund, AIA, whose Boca Raton-based Soderlund Architecture + Design firm was commissioned to draw up the designs. “We wanted it to look clean, because we’re ‘dry cleaning,’ and we wanted to have an environment of cleanliness. We want to look high-end, and we want to be different from everybody else.”

“You could not find a speck of dust in that place if you tried,” says Bob Aldrich, president of Aldrich Clean-Tech Equipment, who designed the plant layout for the Samofalovs.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion!

About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.

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