PlanetLaundry and Supplements West Supplement to August JRNL, Fall 2011 : Page 1

FALL 2011 | planetlaundry.com | coinlaundry.org West BUSI N E S S P R O FI L E Thinking Outside the Box Modular ‘Doublewide’ Houses State-of-the-Art Self-Service Laundry on California Reservation ADVERTISERS Central Coast Commercial Laundries | 5, 11 CLA Insurance | 10 Continental Girbau West | 9 Peterson Equipment Co | 12 Pride Laundry Systems Inc | 8 Sunshine Sales | 6 Western State Design | 2, 3 Smart business planning resulted in the cost-effective development of The Pala Tub – a high-speed laundry serving the Pala Band of Mission Indians in Pala, Calif. Housed inside a doublewide modular building, The Pala Tub is a smartly outfitted card-operated laundry boasting an express 60-minute wash and dry. The Pala Tub is fully attended, handicapped accessible, and features high-speed washer-extractors engineered to save loads of water, propane and electricity. Modular vs. New Construction Robert Smith, tribal chairman for the Pala Band, located the new laundry onto a section of land he had owned for years. He and his business partner, Merrill Everett, worked closely with John Mandella of JSM Laundries in Capitola, continued on page 7

BUSINESS PROFILE


Thinking Outside the Box

Modular ‘Doublewide’ Houses State-of-the-Art Self-Service Laundry on California Reservation

Smart business planning resulted in the cost-effective development of The Pala Tub – a high-speed laundry serving the Pala Band of Mission Indians in Pala, Calif. Housed inside a doublewide modular building, The Pala Tub is a smartly outfitted card-operated laundry boasting an express 60-minute wash and dry.

The Pala Tub is fully attended, handicapped accessible, and features high-speed washer-extractors engineered to save loads of water, propane and electricity.

Modular vs.New Construction

Robert Smith, tribal chairman for the Pala Band, located the new laundry onto a section of land he had owned for years. He and his business partner, Merrill Everett, worked closely with John Mandella of JSM Laundries in Capitola, Calif., to develop a laundry to fit the needs of the reservation and surrounding area, while simultaneously, containing start-up costs.

Rather than invest in new construction, Smith and Everett chose to lease a 24- by 60-foot modular building to house the new laundry.

“We leased the modular building with an option to buy,” Everett said. “We got the laundry up and running for just 10 percent down, avoiding a huge outlay of cash, and will own the building in just five more years.”

In the end, Smith and Everett believe they saved 20 percent to 30 percent over new construction – a significant business advantage.

Unique to the Pala Band of Mission Indians

And, because the laundry is located on the Pala reservation, its owners avoided the typical red tape associated with city regulations and ordinances.

“The Pala Tribe has its own sovereignty,” Smith explained. “So, we didn’t have to deal with city regulations. The Pala offers a business-friendly atmosphere that reminds people of how business used to be conducted.”

As the sole laundry within 16 miles, The Pala Tub stands as a boon to the reservation and surrounding communities. The card-operated laundry features a flat-screen television, highspeed washer-extractors, stack drying tumblers, tables, chairs, air conditioning, restrooms and vending machines. The Pala Tub also offers wash-dry-fold services – key to serving the reservation’s nearby casinos and hotels.

Laundry Development

To pull this laundry project together, Smith and Everett turned to Mandella to properly design and equip their new business. Mandella has helped build hundreds of coin laundries through the years and has extensive expertise in the industry.

“We ended up buying the modular building and then modifying it for the laundry,” Everett said.

At The Pala Tub, an outdoor tank stores propane, which is used as the energy source for the store’s 11 stack drying tumblers. “We wanted state-of-the-art, energy-efficient equipment and liked the idea that our customers would be able to wash and dry their laundry in 60 minutes,” Smith noted.

Freestanding High-Speed vs.Hard-Mount Washers

To achieve this, along with ease of installation, Mandella recommended that Smith and Everett install freestanding washer-extractors rather than traditional hard-mount machines.

The modular laundry lacked the foundation necessary to install hard-mount washers, which must be bolted to a reinforced concrete foundation.

The washers, on the other hand, slid into place without need for bolts or special foundations – making their freestanding design a true fit for the new laundry. And because the washers generate extremely high extract speeds, laundry loads take less time to dry, The Pala Tub uses less propane, and customers are onto better things sooner since their total wash and dry is completed in less than one hour.

The washers provide higher quality wash and remove considerably more water from each load than some of the hard-mount or topload washers at other stores, according to Mandella.

“This cuts dry time and resulting propane usage by at least 30 percent,” he said.

The result, according to Smith and Everett, is reduced utility costs, improved customer turnover and larger profits in a relatively small space.

All in all, The Pala Tub is equipped with 11 20-pound capacity high-speed front loading washers, four 30-pound capacity frontloaders and four 40-pounders, as well as 11 30-pound-capacity stack dryers.

“People use all of the machines,” Everett said. In addition, the larger washers have proven popular for large family loads, quilts, comforters and tents.

Card System Simplifies Management

Everything in The Pala Tub runs off a card system, including the store’s vending machines and restrooms. That’s right – the owners charge 30 cents per restroom visit. They believe that people who pay to use the toilet treat the bathrooms with respect – keeping them clean and orderly.

“I felt the card system was state-of-the-art,” Smith explained. “Quarters don’t get jammed, it’s easy to see which machines are used most and when, and it simplifies the management of the store.”

With the card system, Smith and Everett not only avoid the hassles of coin collection, they can monitor the laundry and control vend price based on the particular machine, the time of day and the day of the week. However, card technology is reassuring to customers as well, the owners agreed, because it offers touch-screen directions, and the cards are easily replaced if they are lost.

The Pala Tub, which opened in the fall of 2008, has been growing at a rate of 10 percent per month, thanks to the store’s “60-Minute Wash and Dry” advertisements in the local newspaper and church flyers, according to Smith. Located on a major highway near hotels and a casino, visibility of the store is excellent as well.

“There’s a lot of traffic,migrant workers and apartments,” Merrill said. “The demographics are perfect.”

If all goes as expected, Smith and Merrill expect to own the laundry within the next five years.

“I think we have a good shot,” Smith said. “I always wanted to start a laundry and thought it would be a lot more work than it is. The card system makes it easier.”

And the idea of providing similar laundries – wrapped up in modular buildings – to other Native American reservations appeals to Smith and Everett.

“All we would need is a propane tank and a generator, and we could easily erect more laundries at other reservations around the country,” Smith stated. “We’d like to do that.”

“We got this laundry up and running for just 10 percent down, avoiding a huge outlay of cash, and we will own the building in just five more years,” Everett said.

Read the full article at http://digitaleditions.walsworthprintgroup.com/article/BUSINESS+PROFILE/794912/76686/article.html.

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