The Coin Laundry Association
recently honored two industry-leading store owners with newly created awards, which were established to recognize the best of the self-service laundry industry and its operators – as well as to highlight two very positive directions in which many of today’s progressive laundry entrepreneurs are moving.
Tom Benson, who owns World’s Largest Laundromat
in Berwyn, Ill., received the CLA’s Community Involvement and Service Award, while Morgan Gary of Spin Laundry Lounge
in Portland, Ore, was recognized with the association’s Green Leadership Award.
World’s Largest Laundromat has been an integral part of Berwyn’s business community for years, creating a family atmosphere and developing into almost a second home for many of its customers.
Benson, who purchased the business in 1999, said he believes the reason his laundry has been so successful is due in large part to the emotional connection he and his employees have developed with their customers. Over the years, he has implemented a number of popular community-focused programs – including a summer “Read to Ride” program (where kids read books to earn a chance to win a bicycle), a weekly family pizza night, monthly kid-friendly events, a toy giveaway during the Christmas season and the sponsorship of numerous local activities.
“Tom embodies the best of us,” said CLA Awards Committee Chairman Jim Whitmore, who owns Sunshine Express Laundry Centers, based in Gloucester, Mass. “Service to our communities rests at the heart of our industry at its best, and is powerfully aligned with our LaundryCares Foundation. In awarding Tom, we make a powerful statement to our industry – as well as to our constituents, our customers, and to the towns and cities we serve – that this is what we are about.”
“First of all, it’s an honor to be chosen for this award from among the tens of thousands of laundromats across the country,” Benson said. “I’m glad that I’m in an industry that’s beginning to understand the need of businesses to relate to their communities. Some call it ‘conscious capitalism’ or ‘soft capitalism, but there is a power swing in that direction.
“We’re all extremely grateful for the customers we have. We run our business in a way not just to make a profit, but to do so in such a way that our customers appreciate it and want to come back. We need to create a bond of loyalty – and, again, I’m very glad to be part of an industry that recognizes this fact.”
Located in Portland’s historic Mississippi District, Spin Laundry Lounge encompasses everything owner and founder Morgan Gary originally had in mind for her laundry business, which included making a lasting and positive impact on the environment and her community.
In 2012, Gary graduated with an MBA in sustainable business, as well as a comprehensive business plan. In fact, her final project for school was to create a plan elaborating on how to make her green and efficient version of a self-service laundry a reality.
“I studied trends, visited stores in the area, and read every book I could find about laundromats and the laundry industry,” Gary told LaundryluxBlog.com, at the time of her store’s opening. She also kept a running list of every idea that could make her laundry business distinctive and sustainable.
“Morgan’s commitment to green and sustainable ideals as manifested in her laundry, represent the future for our industry,” Whitmore explained. “We can no longer turn a blind eye to our utility consumption, viewing it simply as a cost of doing business. It’s our moral obligation to build and rebuild laundries that are efficient and state of the art. Morgan is being honored for highlighting those critical values for our industry going forward.”
“I’m honored to receive the Green Leadership Award,” Gary said. “My one true passion is sustainability, and it means a lot to be recognized for my hard work in that field. Environmental and social sustainability have always been the focus of my business. We are constantly exploring ways to raise awareness, as well as finding new ways to implement sustainable practices in every aspect of the business. I am thrilled to create positive change in the environment and our community that will greatly impact the future of the laundry industry.”
The award winners were announced in May during the CLA’s 3rd Excellence in Laundry Conference at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa in Ojai, Calif.