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We’re Chill: Worker Comfort in the Hot Months (Conclusion)

Employees wet their Arctic Skull headbands, one method to stay cool

CHICAGO — “Can you just chill a moment?”

How many times have you heard that saying uttered? Let’s put a new-old spin on chill by looking at cooling methods used at dry cleaners in Texas, Arkansas, and North Carolina.

A dry cleaner in Texas fights the summer heat describing it as, “A beast that is difficult to tame.”

By chilling down the drycleaning work environment — and taming the beast — owners can increase worker efficiency, plant safety, and the overall comfort of all: team members, owners, managers, and clients coming in out of the hot day.

In San Antonio, Vicky Maisel, president and co-owner with sister Shannon of Cowboy Cleaners, says that the heat in the summer gets to over 100 degrees and dry or humid, it makes no difference, it’s hot!

“We worry about making sure all employees stay hydrated and that there is good air circulation in the plant,” Maisel says.

She explains their cooling strategies: “We have swamp coolers, exhaust fans in the roof to remove the heat, fans for each individual employee, and large overhead doors to keep the air circulating.”

Maisel says they also provide their employees with cooling headbands and scarves for each. “The employees wet their Arctic Skull headbands throughout the day and these really help keep them cool.”

Cowboy Cleaners was started over 60 years ago by their father, Don Maisel. “Today, Shannon and I have taken over the business. I am the president of the company. Both Shannon and I are basically chief cooks and bottle washers — we do whatever is necessary or needed to make sure we deliver a quality product and excellent service.”

Maisel relates a story of hot and cold: “One day someone forgot to turn on the exhaust fans! Needless to say, it was a sauna. Though that might be nice if we were trying to lose weight, it was awful to work in.

“We finally noticed and got all the fans on. It made all the difference and now we have assigned one person the job of making sure all the fans are on, and if they are absent or on vacation it’s the job of the chief cooks and bottle washers.”

In the summer Maisel relates, “We purchase bags of ice for the employees to keep their water cool. When its 100 degrees, your water gets warm pretty quickly, so we have a bag of ice in the freezer all summer long. We also have water coolers so that the water they drink is cold and not warm tap water.”

Maisel says, “In the hottest part of the summer our employees come to work earlier so they can be finished by the hottest part of the day. So if you see us in the summer we are here around four or five a.m., thankfully everyone here is a morning person!”

That’s both cooling and a chill way to operate. Now we’ll cruise ‘eastbound and up,’ taking another ride to chill-town, this time in North Carolina. “Since we live in North Carolina, we deal with heat and humidity from May to September. This is just part of being in the south. Our plant can reach temps of 100 plus. The daily challenge we have is to keep the air moving and keep hydrated.”

This is Lindsey Beane, owner, Fordham’s Cleaners in Greensboro, N.C., which first opened in 1947.

“My biggest concern for my staff is that they stay hydrated. We try to drink lots of water and keep things like popsicles on hand,” Beane says.

She explains: “We are your friendly neighborhood cleaners who work hard to take care of all your daily needs as well as your specialty items. I bought Fordham’s in 2015 and have been loving it ever since. I handle the dry cleaning and spotting for my operation. This means I enjoy the heat with my staff throughout the year.”

Her cleaners has five exhaust fan throughout their building. “We also use standing fans at each station and open the windows. We try to keep as much air moving as possible,” Beane relates.

She’s says, “I have leaned a lot about how exhaust fans work and the required maintenance that should be done before the temperature gets really high.”

She also notes that, “Swamp coolers are wonderful things, when they work.”

Beane’s tip to stay chill and cool?

“Make sure your fans are working. I also find that frozen treats for your employees can help keep morale up on days when the heat is hard to handle.”

These four drycleaning owners shared how coolness can be achieved in the heat of summer. It’s certain you have your cooling ways as well at your plant and store.

Remember to make sure your team stays hydrated. Keep ice on hand. Keep doors and windows open. Keep fans properly maintained and running, and, if possible, use air-conditioning.

The cost of keeping cool is relatively low when weighed with the benefits: efficiency, morale, and low turnover. These owners found ways to be cool in the summertime. So.... are you chill?

To read Part 1, go HERE.