PlanetLaundry and Supplements Southeast Supplement Fall 2016 : Page 1

Supplement to the PlanetLaundry Magazine BUSINESS PROFILE BY STEVEN GOULD Fall 2016 | planetlaundry.com | coinlaundry.org The Third Generation Long-Time Family Business Returns to the Self-Service Laundry Industry Jim Massey III and his brother, John, are newcomers to the self-service laundry business. However, their familiarity with the garment care industry goes back a couple of generations. “My background is in drycleaning,” Jim explained. “My grandfather founded Jim Massey Cleaners, a drycleaning business, back in 1941. After college, I came back here to the drycleaners, and I’ve been here ever since – never left. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.” Beyond his experience in drycleaning, Jim also has been involved in the tuxedo rental business, as well as the bridal and prom gown business and also garment restoration. “We used to be involved in uniform rental, but we sold that business,” Jim said. “And, before I got involved in the business, my dad also owned laundromats, but he closed his last one in 1976.” Then, as Jim and John became more involved in the family ADVERTISERS Aadvantage Laundry Systems | 17 Coin Laundry Association | 20 Coin Laundry Insurance | 23 Commercial & Coin Laundry Equipment | 08 Laundrylux | Back Cover Laundry Owners Warehouse | Inside Front Cover LaundryPro | 07 Pierce Commercial Distributor | 16 SaveMore Commercial Laundry Equipment | 09 SE Laundry Equipment | 05 Setomatic | 15 SLM | 14 Southern Automatic Machinery | 19 Statewide | 06 T&L Equipment Sales Company Inc | 18 Texas Laundry Service | 11 Wholesale Commercial Laundry Equipment SE LLC | 13 Worldwide Laundry | 21 continued on page 3

Business Profile

Steven Gould

The Third Generation

Long-Time Family Business Returns to the Self-Service Laundry Industry

Jim Massey III and his brother, John, are newcomers to the self-service laundry business. However, their familiarity with the garment care industry goes back a couple of generations.

“My background is in drycleaning,” Jim explained. “My grandfather founded Jim Massey Cleaners, a drycleaning business, back in 1941. After college, I came back here to the drycleaners, and I’ve been here ever since – never left. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

Beyond his experience in drycleaning, Jim also has been involved in the tuxedo rental business, as well as the bridal and prom gown business and also garment restoration.

“We used to be involved in uniform rental, but we sold that business,” Jim said. “And, before I got involved in the business, my dad also owned laundromats, but he closed his last one in 1976.”

Then, as Jim and John became more involved in the family business, they started to consider getting the family back into the self-service laundry industry. However, when Jim told his father that he was looking into vended laundries, his dad’s first response was, “Oh, son… don’t.”

“He was totally against it and told us a hundred horror stories about why we shouldn’t go that route,” Jim said. “But my brother and I were both determined to do it, and we saw a lot of future in it – so we went against dad’s wishes.”

Being in the drycleaning business, they were seeing changes on the horizon that just made sense for a self-service laundry business.

“With the changing demographics of the country, drycleaning pieces are down everywhere,” Jim noted. “People are still wearing something, so the rationale had to be that they must be washing their clothes at home or going to a laundromat. As America has dressed down and gone more casual, especially Millennials, we were seeing the change and that was the market we were going after. It turns out that we were right. Young people are wearing a lot more blue jeans and T-shirts, as opposed to suits and dresses. And, of course, we can still take their suits and dresses over the drycleaning counter.”

Therefore, in September 2014, the brothers forged ahead with their plan and opened Jim Massey's Laundromat in Montgomery, Ala. They chose the location because they felt it offered every advantage.

“In our opinion, it had everything going for it,” Jim said. “There was great exposure being close to the street. Plus, it has a traffic light right at the entrance to the parking lot and is at the intersection of two roads that lead right into downtown Montgomery. Also, Alabama State University is right across the street, and there is another college just two miles away.”

The Masseys own the shopping center in which the 3,200-square-foot store is located, but they lease the laundry back from themselves.

The center itself was built 12 years earlier; however, at that time, it didn’t include a laundromat. The space originally had been a health club, but when the tenant didn’t renew the lease, Jim and John took over the space and built the laundry.

“Had the buildout gone smoothly that would have been a surprise,” Jim said, with a laugh. “I’ve never built any store that didn’t have a surprise. Between inspectors, contractors and suppliers, something always comes up – either they forget to tell me something or I forget to ask.”

The construction phase lasted about seven months, with an investment of just under $200,000 and an additional $380,000 for the equipment.

Jim Massey’s Laundromat caters to a diverse clientele, as the store is located in what Jim describes as “a border area.”

“On one side of the store are million-dollar houses, but back behind the building are government-funded housing projects,” Jim pointed out. “We see all kinds of customers in here – from the college student across the street to the residents of the housing projects to the people in the million-dollar homes.

“And that was the biggest surprise to us – getting the people from the big, expensive homes into the store to clean their comforters, bed spreads or sleeping bags. I’m amazed at how many times I go to the laundry and see friends in there; maybe one of their kids just came home from school or camp, or perhaps hunting season just ended so they have a lot of items to wash. There is just a surprisingly wide range of people who use our laundromat.”

The laundry receives a good deal of exposure, being located toward the front of a busy shopping area with a number of other high-traffic businesses. There is a Family Dollar store, a cell phone business and Chinese restaurant nearby, as well as a wig shop and a tax preparation office in the center.

To spread the word about Jim Massey’s Laundromat beyond the shopping center, Jim and John send out direct-mail pieces, hang tags at their drycleaning locations and utilize LED message boards inside and outside of the store.

Throughout the city of Montgomery, Jim estimated that there are about a dozen competing laundromats. Although he is quite aware of what the competition is doing, like so many other successful operators, he chooses to focus more on his laundry operation, rather than concern himself with what others may be up to.

“From the very beginning, we tried to be everything you don’t think about when it comes to a laundromat,” Jim said. “There is a lot of glass, it’s very open and clean, it’s attended, and we have a security system. We did whatever we could do to make it easier on the customer; for instance, we installed sliding glass doors that open automatically. And, once customers in the store, there is access to Wi-Fi, and they can relax and feel safe and comfortable.”

Jim admitted that the laundry got off to a slower start than they had anticipated.

“If you build it, they don’t always come,” he said. “I don’t care how nice it is inside or how well-lit or how pretty it looks, you still have to get that customer to come through the door that first time. Also, we are the first 100-percent card-operated laundry in town, so that required some customer education.”

Jim Massey’s Laundromat is open from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily. The business employs three part-time attendants and one full-time staff member, so there is always someone at the store during business hours. Wash-dry-fold services are offered for $1.05 per pound, with a 10-pound minimum. And, although the laundry business doesn’t currently handle any commercial accounts, the Masseys do cater those types of clients on the drycleaning side.

With all they have going on, both Jim and John have developed a strong work ethic.

“People will tell me that, if I’m working that hard, it’s not too smart,” Jim said. “You’re doing something wrong, like not delegating enough. But I enjoy what I do – it’s fun. I think enjoying what you do is a strength, and I don’t mind working at all.”

With that said, the brothers have plans to open more self-service laundries in the future.

“We own another building in Auburn, Ala., where we currently have another business,” Jim said. “It's about 35 miles away, and we’re thinking of putting a laundromat there. There also are a couple of areas here in Montgomery that could certainly use a nice, new, well-run laundromat.” It would seem the folks in and around Montgomery will be seeing more Jim Massey’s Laundromats in the future.

Steven Gould is a freelance writer based in the Chicago area.

Read the full article at http://digitaleditions.walsworthprintgroup.com/article/Business+Profile/2562204/331395/article.html.

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