PlanetLaundry and Supplements West Supplement Spring 2015 : Page 1
Supplement to the PlanetLaundry Magazine BUSINESS PROFILE STEVEN GOULD Spring 2015 | planetlaundry.com | coinlaundry.org ‘Vending is Vending…’ Vending Operator Carves Out Profitable Second Career as a Laundry Owner As with many small-business operators, David Arendt – who owns The Clothesline in Rodeo, Calif. – grew weary of corporate life and came to the conclusion that there must be something better. Arendt spent a good portion of his professional career as an operations continued on page 3 manager for a growing waste management corporation. “When I decided I didn't want to do the corporate life management thing, I started a vending business,” explained Arendt, who continues to run that business today. ADVERTISERS Coin Laundry Association | 05 Coin Laundry Insurance | 10 IPSO | Back Cover Laundrylux | 02
<br /> ‘Vending Is Vending…’<br /> <br /> Vending Operator Carves Out Profitable Second Career as a Laundry Owner<br /> <br /> As with many small-business operators, David Arendt – who owns The Clothesline in Rodeo, Calif. – grew weary of corporate life and came to the conclusion that there must be something better.<br /> <br /> Arendt spent a good portion of his professional career as an operations manager for a growing waste management corporation.<br /> <br /> “When I decided I didn't want to do the corporate life management thing, I started a vending business,” explained Arendt, who continues to run that business today. <br /> <br /> As he launched his vending operation and began to land more and more accounts, he was struck by another thought.<br /> <br /> “Vending is vending, and it hit me that a coin laundry is just another vending business with everything in one place!” Arendt said. “Instead of having things across different counties, it’s all together. So, I decided that a coin laundry was the way to go.”<br /> <br /> Having everything in one place certainly was a huge attraction to Arendt.<br /> <br /> “Running around to these machines, servicing them, and filling them with snacks and sodas is time- and gas-consuming,” he noted. “With the coin laundry, everything is right there. All I have to do is keep the place up, keep the machines running, and keep it all looking good and working smoothly.”<br /> <br /> Arendt purchased his first self-service laundry in 1996, which was the same year he established his vending business. And he eventually grew his laundry business to three locations. However, these days, he is looking at winding things down a bit – with just a small number of vending accounts and only one laundromat.<br /> <br /> All three of the laundries Arendt has owned were existing stores that he had purchased. And, after he bought the first one, he was hooked. He really enjoyed the laundry business and, within a year, he had acquired his second store.<br /> <br /> “I really wanted to stop there,” Arendt said. “But, in the third year, my broker knew a family that owned a coin laundry located in a nearby city. They had an illness in the family and really needed someone to take over, and my broker thought of me. I sort of got pushed into that one, but that third laundry proved to be a good venture.”<br /> <br /> Arendt sold that third laundry five years ago. In addition, his original store closed when the shopping center in which it was located went through a remodel and renovation. The property management company decided it didn’t want a laundry in the center, so they bought out Arendt’s lease – leaving him now with just the one Clothesline location.<br /> <br /> From the beginning, Arendt’s laundry career has gone fairly smoothly. In fact, it took less than a month from the time he found the first store he wanted until he was the owner. Aside from the basics of figuring out the specific process of running a self-service laundry and maintaining the equipment, it all gone off without a hitch.<br /> <br /> Arendt’s current and only Clothesline location is 1,300 square feet and situated in a working-class neighborhood near a refinery. The marketplace features a solid mix of single-family homes and large apartment complexes. There also is a variety of nearby businesses – including a dentist’s office, a nail salon, a Chinese restaurant, a pizza parlor, a bank, a large supermarket and even drycleaner right next door to the laundry.<br /> <br /> The Clothesline is strictly a self-service laundry location. With a drycleaner located right next door, the store clearly doesn’t need to drop-off drycleaning, nor does it provide residential wash-dry-fold or commercial laundry services.<br /> <br /> Arendt’s business is open from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily, with the last wash at 9:00 p.m. The unattended store is opened and closed electronically.<br /> <br /> The Clothesline’s nearest competition is about two miles away and on the other side of a toll bridge. What’s more, David doesn’t really concern himself with the things other owners may do.<br /> <br /> “I see a lot of issues, where one owner is setting toploaders at $1.50, so the next guy has to set them at $1.25,” Arendt explained. “I don’t worry about that. I set my vend prices because my machines are working. I don’t have ‘out of service’ signs. And you’re not going to see a cleaner place.<br /> <br /> “I care about making money, so I set my vend pricing where I need to be set, and I just don’t worry about the competition. They could be lower or have newer machines – that just doesn’t bother me.”<br /> <br /> True to form, Arendt’s life in the laundry business has gone just about as expected. There were no major surprises or disasters – and the nicest part of being a laundry owner was when all of the loans are paid off.<br /> <br /> “Until the loans are paid off, you’re making a little money,” he said. “But, once the loans are paid off, things are nice.”
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