This is a brief overview of our industry. The article was from ifi.org where we are proud to be a member.
The drycleaning industry provides garment cleaning, finishing and related services to vast majority of American households. With approximately 30,000 drycleaners in the United States, drycleaning is one of the largest industry sectors that is still recognized as a “Mom and Pop” small business. Although the sizes of drycleaners vary, most commercial drycleaners are single facility, family-owned operations. An average number of five employees work at a plant. Commercial drycleaning may not generate large profit with median annual revenues below $250,000. Since one of the keys to being a successful drycleaner is service and proximity to your customer base, drycleaners are oftentimes integral players in their respective communities.
Economic and Employment Overview
It is estimated that the drycleaning and laundry industry employ over 200,000 people nationwide including managers, launderers, pressers, machine operators, sales and service clerks and related allied trade personnel. The industry prides itself on the diversity of its workforce with approximately 2.5 billion in payroll nationally.
In 1997, the national sales volume for retail drycleaners was estimated at 7 billion. However, members of the industry indicated that their business has declined due in large part to the trend to more casual dressing.
Industrial Process and the Environment
Traditionally, drycleaners used solvents and detergents to clean clothes. This process avoided saturating certain fabrics in water, which might cause shrinkage or dye bleeding. The solvent used by over 90% of the drycleaning industry is perchloroethylene (perc). Others use petroleum and new technologies such as wetcleaning have made tremendous strides in the market. Recognizing its responsibility to employees, customers, neighbors and the public, the drycleaning industry took the lead in incorporating pollution prevention mechanisms and environmental management systems in their operations to reduce solvent emissions and exposures.