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O-Town Laundry Hut: Growing to Meet Market Needs

LAYTON, Utah — A number of vended laundry projects are completed around the country each year, resulting in brand-new or rejuvenated stores primed and ready to serve customers.

As a way to celebrate the hard work that goes into designing, building and equipping a modern self-service laundry, American Coin-Op created a Spotlights on Success series to recognize memorable projects of recent vintage.

And so equipment manufacturers were invited to tout their brand’s latest and greatest vended laundry projects. This is one of the stories they shared:

O-TOWN LAUNDRY HUT

Joe Jepsen of Salt Lake City wasn’t planning to enter the vended laundry industry. He started his career in mortgage banking, where he learned the importance of managing capital and banking relationships. By age 22, he had saved enough money to buy his first apartment building, which he managed and maintained himself rather than contracting an apartment management company. 

Jepsen quickly built his business, Diamond J Management, through multiple acquisitions. At the height of these acquisitions, his company was known as one of the largest landlords in Utah with more than 45 apartment buildings, each with a large range of unit counts and revenue base.

In 2016, he made a bold decision to liquidate and diversify his business. He wanted to consider what other types of investments he could add to his portfolio, and that decision led Jepsen to his first vended store within an 800-square-foot retail space he renovated to serve the neighborhood and one of his existing apartment buildings.

The result was O-Town Coin Laundry, and it was the starting point for what has turned into a solid business model.

“Everything we did was aimed at the ultimate customer experience,” Jepsen says. “We wanted to focus on aesthetics, to make it feel like a fresh, modern laundry, and go far beyond the look of a traditional, ‘vanilla’ vended store.”

The result? A vended laundry facility that is, in fact, anything but traditional. Black, gray and red interiors, with exposed floor joists, beams, and high-end equipment that made the space look welcoming and sophisticated — a place where someone could comfortably hang out for a while.

Since the first O-Town Coin Laundry opened, Jepsen has applied his model and key learnings to other laundry sites. Earlier this year, he completed a retool on store number three. Numbers four, five, six and seven are in the works, and there are three more sitting in his land bank, ready to move forward.

“Each store benefits from the one before it,” he says. “We take what we learn and apply it elsewhere. For example, knowing that equipment mix is important to the customers, we insisted that store number three, O-Town Laundry Hut, feature not only the single-load washers customers know, but we added the new Maytag Multi-Load machines for greater capacity as well.”

Jepsen believes the O-Town Laundry Hut is unique and admits that the retool ended up being more extensive than planned. Keeping customer convenience and comfort in mind, the O-Town Laundry Hut in Salt Lake City offers new Maytag Multi-Load Washers, in addition to Maytag Multi-Load Dryers, Single-Load Washers and Dryers.

Other store features include granite countertops; commercial-grade furniture; LED lighting to give a softer, more residential feel; stainless steel crown molding to match the dryer curtains; paint in a red, black and silver theme; shiplap wainscoting on the walls; modern artwork; large ceiling fans; a 15-camera surveillance system; and programmable fob locks on all doors.

Jepsen and his team recently celebrated the completion of the O-Town Laundry Hut, and he believes the store will prove not only to be profitable but beneficial to the community as well. He plans to stick with the existing model of placing vended stores within his own properties and says he won’t buy an existing Laundromat or build one without owning the property it’s on.

“This was a way for me to support the community in a positive way, and I hope others can learn from this idea,” says Jepsen.

Watch for another Spotlights on Success story coming on Monday!

 

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With a disaster recovery plan in place, a laundry can be ready to cope with fire, severe weather or other incident and return to operation as quickly as possible. Robert “Bo” Steiner, district director at the U.S. Small Business Administration, talks planning strategy and execution.

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