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EVI Industries & Commercial Laundry Equipment

Former Owner and Operator of 28 Dryclean USA Stores

Why is this interview interesting?

  • Why the dry cleaning industry is declining
  • How fabric changes are pressuring volume and revenue growth
  • Equipment required for dry cleaning and washing services per store
  • Typical issues and replacement cycles for washing and dry cleaning
  • Working with distributors and suppliers to fix issues and source parts
  • The value-add of distributors to laundry operators

Executive Bio

Joon Noh

Former Owner and Operator of 28 Dryclean USA Stores

Joon Noh has over 21 years in the dry cleaning business and is the former owner of 28 Dryclean USA laundry stores across Nashville. In 2002, Joon purchased the stores for $2.5m and ran the group of units for over 18 years generating over $4m in revenue per year. EVI Industries supply the residential and commercial laundry markets with commercial equipment and Joon has experience working with technicians and distributors to purchase and maintain the equipment across his stores. Read more

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Interview Transcript

When did you first open a DryClean USA store?


How many stores did you buy?

Myself and my two brothers-in-law purchased 28 stores and they were owned by a company called DCI Management.

How much did you pay for the stores?

We paid over $2.5 million.

You were running the stores?

The stores were run by the employees, but we had a central location where we had our equipment and we had over 170 people there, running the operations.

Whereabouts were the stores?

Near downtown Nashville. It used to be a bread factory and they went out of business and someone set up all the equipment there and that was our main hub. We had four vans that would run around from 5:30 in the morning until close to 5:30 in the afternoon, when they would go and pick up for the next day and they delivered the ones that were done for the day.

What was the revenue from the 28 stores, roughly?

There were quite a few stores but they all varied. Some stores did anywhere from $250 to $400 and some of the better stores did $750 to $1,000 a day.

Who were the main customers?

The neighborhood, obviously, provided all the customers but we had stores with different levels of income in the neighborhood. Also, even if it wasn’t in a very good income neighborhood, you had a lot of traffic that would go through. Some neighborhoods are more residential; some are more commercial businesses. In early 2001, people still dressed up, before the fabrics were changed by the fashion industry. For example, men would dress with button-down shirts and a sports coat. But as the years progressed, they became more casual; they still wore the button-down shirts and slacks but after 2008, 2009, after the financial collapse, people started dressing up less and less. No more suits, necessarily. Some people still wore suits but more and more businesses started going to casual which meant that, instead of button-down shirts, they changed to polo shirts. Instead of Friday casual, it started slowly creeping into everyday casual.

So that reduced the demand for your shops and laundry?

Right; but when you are in a professional environment, even if you are casual, they will tend to wear clothes that were more presentable and pressed. You can’t press those shirts yourself. Well, you can press it, but it won’t look and feel the same as when it’s professionally done. We have better equipment to treat and work the fabric. I know fashion changes but you want to wear your fashion the way it was when you bought it. Even though you’ve worn it over and over, you want that fabric to feel and look as if you just bought it. You’re not going to get that unless you get somebody professional, with the right equipment, producing that kind of look.

What was the split in revenue between those residential customers and commercial customers, for your stores?

Because of the commercial environment, we used to have quite a bit of business. It depends on the type of environment you were in. If you are in an area where, for example, the household income is over $100,000 obviously you are going to spend more money on nicer clothes and you want to look more presentable. Out of all those 28 stores, we were literally stretched out to two different counties. What’s the split? Obviously, if you are a blue-collar worker, you’re probably not going to wear cleaned and pressed clothes as much; maybe only on special occasions. Luckily, a lot of our stores were in an area where people frequently used our services.

Were all of your customers individuals? Were there any companies that were using your stores?

On one occasion, we had an account with the hotels nearby that had guests and we would go and pick up a bundle for them and we would bring it back within the same day. Also, Dollar General was right down the street from one of my stores and it was a headquarters, with a lot of business people in and out. Even though they tended to wear a lot of casual clothes, unless they had meetings and things, we actually set up a small closet area, which was a pick-up station just for their employees. We gave them bags and ID numbers and a free membership deal, with savings. They would literally take those bags, fill them off and drop it off in that location near the lobby. We would drive by and pick up what was there and drop it back.

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EVI Industries & Commercial Laundry Equipment

December 10, 2020

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