QUESTION 3: When will the industry be able to bounce back, and how close to “normal” will that recovery be? What will the industry look like when the economy recovers?DAVID COTTER: I don’t think we’re ever going back to the levels seen in 2006 or 2007. We’re in a “reset” mode—we’re going to downsize.JOHN TIPPS: I think we’ve started seeing the light, but it may be a while before we reach the end of the tunnel. While there are a few [owners] who have rebounded, there are many still suffering. I’ve seen our industry go through tough times, and believe it will come back stronger than ever—as it has before. There will be fewer cleaners, but the remaining ones will prosper.DAVE SILLIMAN: With a finite amount of pieces available and consumer spending in caution mode, a “bounce back” won’t occur until there is some attrition. Most of it will come from middle-market operators whose quality is below what they charge.BILL FISHER: Hopefully, we will see the economy pick up, and as it does, people will start to dryclean more. The plants that remain will return to “normal” or better.BARRY GERSHENSON: It will be at least three years before we see any significant growth. Darwin’s “Survival of The Fittest” will hold true in this three-to-five year period, and we’ll see a new “normal” created.Next: What do customers want now, and how can drycleaners deliver it?
The panelists: David Cotter, executive director of the Textile Care Allied Trades Association (TCATA); Bill Fisher, CEO of the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (DLI); Barry Gershenson, executive director of Leading Cleaners Internationale (LCI); “Dryclean” Dave Silliman, operator of Uptowne Cleaners in Phoenix, Ariz.; and John Tipps, independent consultant and former operator of Clean Concepts Inc.
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