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CLA Honors 2022 Industry Award Winners

Williford family receives esteemed Founder’s Award

OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill. — Earlier this year, the Coin Laundry Association (CLA) presented its 2022 Industry Awards, honoring men and women who’ve contributed to the Association and helped to further the laundry industry.

This year’s honorees were:

Founder’s Award — The Williford Family

CLA says this award is its highest honor, recognizing lifetime contributions to the laundry industry.

The Williford family owns and operates The Wash House, a chain of over 30 laundromats serving communities in central, eastern and southern North Carolina. Brothers Lee and Luke Williford operate the third-generation business, with some stores operated by brothers-in-law. Lee’s and Luke’s grandfather began the business in 1965, and their father, Marshall Williford Jr., purchased it in the mid-1970s.

Williford Jr. served as CLA chair in the late 1990s. He was an ambassador of emerging best practices for laundromat operation and participated in speaking engagements on behalf of CLA in addition to board volunteer responsibilities.

Lee and Luke Williford have followed in their grandfather’s and father’s footsteps by further modernizing The Wash House brand, embracing technology, and developing human resources, while volunteering and sharing with industry peers, CLA says.

Member of the Year Award – Colleen Unema

Unema, who owns Brio Laundry in Bellingham, Washington, is lauded as CLA Member of the Year for outstanding work to both move the industry forward and her efforts to support fellow CLA members. She has served as a volunteer, contributed to the CLA publication, served as panelist for educational webinars, and more.

Richard H. Torp Memorial Excellence in Education Award – Dennis Diaz

Named in honor of former CLA Communications Director Dick Torp, Diaz earned the Excellence in Education award by distinguishing himself through his efforts to educate the laundromat industry in digital marketing best practices, regularly authoring articles, serving as speaker and panelist, and advising CLA staff.

Leadership Award – Neal Milch and Alex Weiss

The honor recognizes Milch and Weiss for their initiative and efforts to rally industry partners in lobbying for laundromats to be included in the Federal guidance for essential businesses during the pandemic. Both men committed funding and used their networks and influence to work in partnership with CLA and an ad hoc group of industry members, the Association says.

Outstanding Director Award – Rob Maes

This award is presented to a member of the CLA Board of Directors who has contributed an extraordinary effort and “gone the extra mile” in service on the CLA Board, the Association says. Maes’ peers recognized him for his passion, effort, and leadership exhibited during his service as treasurer, nominating committee chair, and other committee and task force roles.

Other Honors

The Chairman’s Award recognizes those who’ve served as CLA board chairpersons. Daryl Johnson and Kathryn Rowen served in 2021, and Brian Grell served in 2020.

Distinguished Service Awards were presented to the following CLA board members who retired between 2019 and 2021: Russ Arbuckle, Ken Barrett, Brian Brunckhorst, Joel Jorgensen, Ron Kelley, Steve Marcionetti, John Olsen, Charlie Pasquale, Peggy Trent and Lisa White.


Coin Laundry Association

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