CHICAGO — For a coin laundry owner, it’s vitally important that each and every washer and dryer in their store is up and running—either in use or standing by for the next customer who carries a basket heaped with dirty clothes through the door.
But despite the robustness of today’s vended laundry equipment, there will be times, for whatever reason, that parts will falter or fail. It’s at times like this that a store owner either consults his/her stock of spare parts (more on that later) or reaches out to his/her equipment distributor or parts supplier of choice for the all-important component that’ll get a machine back in play.
American Coin-Op interviewed representatives from a handful of companies that make it their business to supply the parts you need.
Diana Anthony is director of parts for Tri-State Technical Services, a Waycross, Ga., distributor that represents Maytag Commercial Laundry in several East Coast states. Her company maintains a large parts inventory in two of its divisions.
D. Michael Davis is president and owner of Nashville, Tenn.-based PartsKing, which he says was the first online resource for coin-op parts and supplies in the world. Since its inception in 1999, it’s grown to become one of the largest parts suppliers in the world, Davis says, carrying parts from every major vended equipment manufacturer.
Chris Mackay is director of advertising for Gold Coin Laundry Equipment, Jamaica, N.Y. Before being promoted to that post, he ran Gold Coin’s parts department for roughly a decade. Gold Coin is a Dexter Laundry distributor, selling and servicing Dexter equipment in the five New York City boroughs and parts of New Jersey.
Andy Marcionetti is owner of Laundry Concepts, an Addison, Ill., equipment distributor whose main focus is construction of new Laundromats in the Chicagoland area, and thus maintains a full-service parts department that sells replacement parts for all brands.
IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL
Well-maintained equipment can, in some cases, remain operational for decades. Many times, when a washer or dryer model has been discontinued, suppliers must continue stocking parts for years thereafter.
“Manufacturers, I think, are required to keep parts seven years,” Davis says. “We’ll keep them as long as the manufacturers have them available. We generally keep our inventory many years after a product is obsolete.”
“The ability of us maintaining that inventory falls back to the vendors and how long they are going to supply those parts,” Anthony says.
“I had a customer earlier today call me, and he has a (model) WCA20 which has to be 20-25 years old, and he was replacing the bearings and seals,” Mackay says. “We had it in stock, and I was able to get it for him. … It really depends on the model. Not every part is available.”
TRACKING PARTS PURCHASES
A store owner can keep their finger on the pulse of their equipment by keeping track of their parts purchases. Major suppliers maintain sophisticated online systems that can be used to easily review a customer’s order history.
“We recommend it—the date the part was changed, what machine it was changed on—because that could help our service staff,” Mackay says. “If this is an ongoing problem and this machine has been constantly changing ignition modules, why is that? Then you would have to look further into why it’s doing it.”
“It helps them make sure, when they have to buy that part again for another machine, instead of having to go through the whole process of deciding which part number it is exactly,” Davis says. “Also, obviously, for their tax records, they need that [information] for their accountant at the end of the year.”
“I think it is important, definitely, to keep track of what you spend on parts, because that could be an indicator of when it might be time for you to buy new equipment,” says Marcionetti. “Gauge how much you’re spending on parts and service in comparison to what a new machine might cost you.”
WHAT TO KEEP ON HAND
It’s not unusual for manufacturers to provide lists of recommended spare parts in the installation and maintenance manuals accompanying new equipment, and distributors also keep lists of stocking parts on hand for their customers.
Water valves, water valve repair kits, door gaskets and belts are among the most commonly changed parts that Tri-State recommends for customers to purchase and keep on hand, but it doesn’t always happen, according to Anthony. “Very few coin stores stock a lot of parts. It’s kind of a ‘buy as needed’ industry.”
“A small inventory of parts would not hurt,” Mackay says. “You really don’t want a machine down on your busiest days.”
“There are certainly some store owners who do not stock anything,” Marcionetti says. “At the worst time, things happen, usually Friday afternoon. A belt will break on your big machine and you won’t have one. Not having at least the minimum amount of stock of wearable parts would be a mistake.”