Living a more energy efficient, sustainable lifestyle is not only good for the environment, but it also makes great business sense.
Just ask Aanen Trelstad.
Mr. Trelstad, the owner of Hyland Eco Laundry in Beaverton, Ore., believes there is a misconception in the business community today that going green is not economical.
“Early on, we made the decision to take any and all steps necessary to maximize the energy efficiency of our new store,” Trelstad explained. “By going green, we significantly decreased our consumption of natural resources, which in turn helps our bottom line and gives us the opportunity to pass along the savings to our customers.”
First and foremost on Trelstad’s eco-friendly to-do list was to install high-efficiency laundry equipment.
“After I purchased the laundromat from the previous owner, I kept the original equipment for about a year and a half,” he explained. “But to remain competitive in the market, I realized we had to completely remodel the store from top to bottom.”
That’s when he reached out to local distributor Lisa White, who owns Absolute Laundry Systems, based in Eugene.
“Lisa has been with us from the start, and her expertise and knowledge have proven to be invaluable,” Trelstad shared. “She’s been in business for many years and has tons of experience in the coin laundry industry. I felt very comfortable working with her.”
In fact, White’s father founded Absolute Laundry Systems more than 30 years ago, and she fondly remembers working on machines with him when she was only about 6 years old. Lisa, along with her husband, Scott, and brother, Matt, have been in the business together for 15 years.
”I truly enjoyed the experience of working with Aanen,” Lisa said. “He had a unique vision of what he wanted in his store and the high level of service he wanted to present to his customers. Hyland Eco Laundry offers its customers the most energy efficient, cost-saving equipment on the market.”
What’s more, Trelstad’s laundry features perhaps the largest washers and dryers in the state, according to White.
The 1,950-square-foot store also boasts such environmentally friendly updates as a new, staged condensing boiler to heat the facility’s water at 99.8 percent efficiency, and Trelstad is currently in the process of installing solar panels on the roof to preheat the water going into the boilers.
“The new hot water system is roughly one-quarter the size of the old boiler,” the owner explained. “The combination of less water usage and a much smaller, more efficient heating system will decrease our consumption of natural gas significantly.”
One of Trelstad’s goals for the store is to be a model for other businesses, proving to fellow laundry operators and small-business owners in general that it is indeed possible to be environmentally friendly and still turn a nifty profit.
His other major goal for Hyland Eco is to offer up a healthy dose of superior customer satisfaction. That’s why, in addition to achieving his energy-efficiency objectives, he has set his sights on creating a space where customers are comfortable and can better enjoy the less-than-fun task of doing their laundry.
“People want a laundromat where they can always find a machine, and know that the machine will perform well and clean their clothing properly,” Trelstad said. “A well-lit, clean store with the best machines on the market today is what we provide our customers.”
Hyland Eco also offers a convenient wash-dry-fold service, a children’s play area, two flat-screen televisions (one over the play area and another facing the folding tables), soap vending (which offers eco-friendly soaps and dryer sheets), plenty of folding tables, an array of seating options and a video security system. And Trelstad has plans to add some commercial accounts to the mix, with a pickup and delivery service.
As the store’s sole owner/operator, Trelstad is responsible for everything associated with the laundry.
“I’m at the laundromat every day, making sure it is clean and ready for our customers,” he asserted. “Customer satisfaction is our number-one goal.”
For its grand opening – or, more precisely, its grand re-opening – Hyland Eco offered its customers a “free day,” running the washers and dryers at no charge for the entire day. Other marketing initiatives included door hangers, which contained a discount wash coupon. And Trelstad also reached out to the local newspapers and television stations in the area to help him get the word out about his reinvented business venture.
“We wanted people to see and understand what we’ve done here,” he said. “I’m very proud of all of the environmental steps we’ve taken. I especially think the water- and energy-saving machines and solar aspect are really incredible features.”
His advice for anyone looking to open a self-service laundry includes some key basics: “Examine the demographics of your marketplace to make sure that the customer base is there. In addition, interview several commercial laundry dealers to find a qualified company to team up with on your project. And, remember that there are no shortcuts. Success takes time, effort, a good location and machinery that will save you time and money.”
Trelstad and White are confident that the choices he made put him ahead of the utility cost curve.
“Buying and selling utilities is the business coin laundry owners are in,” White explained.
By having new, energy-efficient equipment, Trelstad is able to turn a higher profit than many of his competitors, according to White. And, as a result, he has been able to pass along a better value to his customers, while retaining a higher profit margin - a perfect business model for success.
However, one of the challenges Trelstad faces is how to successfully educate his customers about using less detergent in his washers. Many laundry customers think more bubbles equate to cleaner clothes, but with today’s efficient machines customers can save money by using less soap.
His other challenge is to resist constantly watching his coin laundry from his remote-viewing, four-camera security system.
“Our focus from the outset was to look at every decision from an environmental standpoint,” Trelstad concluded. “My hope is that this store will show that becoming more energy conscious is the right thing to do not only from an environmental perspective, but monetarily as well. I’m a true believer that becoming energy efficient is cost-effective and is the key to long-term growth and success.”