You are here

Where the West Begins (Part 1)

Rocket Cleaners, Nev., wins Outstanding Niche Operation

CHICAGO — Four brothers came back home to start a dry cleaner.

Home is a small desert town just west of the Great Salt Lake, population about 4,000, where a towering neon cowboy sign known as “Wendover Will” has been famously greeting westward-bound visitors coming over the Nevada state line since 1952.

Wanting to give back to their community, and using their mom’s nickname as added inspiration, the brothers opened their cleaners in this border town, described as “The Place Where the West Begins.”

“It’s kind of a long story as to why we decided to open a dry cleaner in Wendover,” starts Robert Spillman, owner of West Wendover, Nevada-based Rocket Cleaners, which opened last summer, and was recently named winner of an American Drycleaner 2019 Plant Design Award for Outstanding Niche Operation.

He continues: “Wendover straddles the Utah and Nevada state line, and is my hometown. Several of us left here after our high school graduation in the 1960s and ’70s, and about three years ago, myself and three brothers started talking about doing something good for our hometown, and the people who live here.”

Wendover is a small community and never had its own dry cleaners, he explains, saying that the nearest one was a two-hour drive.

The Rocket Cleaners name came from a nickname his mother, Ruth, was given because her car “sounded like a rocket when she gave it the gas,” Spillman relates. “She is 96 years old and was affectionately known throughout the town as ‘Grandma Rocket.’ She’s in a nursing home now.”

He points out that, “We went into this adventure having no experience with a laundry or dry cleaner,” but notes that they have received tremendous support from equipment and chemical suppliers, which has “really helped us move forward.”

Check back Thursday for the conclusion.