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Letter: Evolutionary Changes in the Coin Laundry Industry (Part 1 of 2)

ARMONK, N.Y. — When you have been in the laundry industry as long as I have (more than 30 years), you start to witness changes and trends within the industry. I recognize a significant trend and have witnessed its evolution within the vended laundry industry.We are fortunate to be seeing one of these evolutionary changes as I write this letter. To set the evolutionary timeline, I have listed my top six picks for significant (or evolutionary) changes within the vended laundry industry.

  1. Front-load washers — The advent of the front-load washer has changed the scenery of the laundry environment. Front loaders were a change from the traditional top loader, the primitive landscape, because they created a better, cleaner wash using less water. Front loaders produce a cleaner product by vigorous tumbling action along with five different water changes to clean the clothes. Philco Bendix offered one of the first front loaders, which was quickly followed by the early Wascomats. The front loaders were the first, real evolutionary change that caused the death of the top-load dinosaur. 
  2. Multisized washers — The creation of front loaders allowed the Laundromat owner to have different-sized washers for different-sized loads. Amteck and Wascomat were two early manufacturers of the large-capacity, multisized washers. The large-capacity washers helped the Laundromat owner because they offered customers more options, were not available for home purchase and had a more expensive vend price (which increased revenue). The trend continues today with many stores having 80-, 100- and even 125-pound washers. Multisized washers have led the coin laundry industry out of the dark ages and into the dawn of the modern Laundromat.  
  3. Stack dryers — Stack dryers have revolutionized the laundry industry by doubling the drying capacity and doubling the dryer revenue. American Dryer revolutionized the laundry industry by introducing the first 30-pound stack dryer. This dryer gave the modern Laundromat the ability to match a pound of drying to a pound of washing. No longer were customers required to wait in line to dry their clothes. Now the modern Laundromat had enough drying capacity to get the customers in and out as quickly as possible. The stack dryer was quickly embraced as a revolution in the industry, and every store we equipped within the last 15 years has featured 99% stack dryers.

Check back Friday, Dec. 10, for Part 2 of this letter. 

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].