Monday, March 22, 2010

Dry Cleaning Franchises

Dry cleaning franchise opens in Layton
Franchisee » Plans to open 15 locations along the Wasatch Front.
By Dawn House

The Salt Lake Tribune

Updated: 03/17/2010 02:05:21 PM MDT


Click photo to enlargeMartinizing Dry Cleaning, which opened in January in... (Jim Urquhart / The Salt Lake Tribune)«123»Sixty years after its founding, Martinizing Dry Cleaning has come to Utah --- and back to its roots.

Martinizing is one of the nation's oldest dry cleaners. It officially has made its debut in Layton, at 861 E. Gordon Ave. In June, three more stores are scheduled to open: in Clinton, at 1912 W. 1800 North St.; South Ogden, 5755 S. Harrison Blvd.; and Highland, 5424 W. 11000 North.

Plans call for at least 15 stores locations along the Wasatch Front in the next five years.

The franchise owner is Scott Ray, who owned and operated SER Enterprises as a contractor for the delivery company DHL, for the past 22 years. During that time, Ray grew his business from two employees and two trucks into a staff of 300 and a

Manager Michelle Clark prepares blankets to be cleaned at the new Martinizing Dry Cleaning in Layton. (Jim Urquhart / The Salt Lake Tribune)fleet of more than 150 trucks servicing 11 states.

But when DHL announced it would reduce its U.S. domestic service shipments in the fall of 2008, Ray began to consider other business options.

"Owning a business for so long, and then finding out it could be closed down at a moment's notice, definitely made me re-evaluate my plans for the future," said Ray, 47, of Layton.

Ray looked into the franchising market and decided to invest in Martinizing.

"I did my research and found the people to be competent and honest," said Ray. "It was a good fit."

Although Ray has years of management experience, he knew it was imperative to learn every aspect of the dry cleaning business. He worked at a Denver


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franchise, performing every job.

Customers in Layton may see him at the front counter or in the back, cleaning, pressing or placing clothes on hangers.

"I'm not as quick as the other workers, but if it needs to be done, I can do it," said Ray. "I've put enough money into the franchise that I'd better know what I'm doing."

The company is based in Ohio, but it also has long ties to Utah.

Martinizing CEO George Strike, a Salt Lake City native, graduated from the University of Utah and played on the school's golf team. Strike also has served on the university's National Advisory Council.

As a teenager, Strike began working at Ajax, a laundry-press manufacturing company that his father, Louis Strike, had started in 1929. Ajax in turn, was bought by American Laundry Machinery Co., the largest laundry machinery manufacturer in the United States. The family continued to operate its own division, and within five years Strike, then 32, was named president of the entire company.

After a decade as president, Strike resigned. In 1973, he purchased Hess & Eisenhardt, a leading automobile engineering and manufacturing company. But in 1978, Strike returned to the family business, purchasing the struggling American Laundry, which included Martin Franchises, Inc., continuing the legacy his father began in Salt Lake City.

Strike has since helped Martinizing grow into a worldwide brand and the largest dry cleaning franchisor in the nation.

In 1949, Martinizing was founded in Buffalo, N.Y., by New York chemist Henry Martin. He revolutionized the industry by introducing the concept of on-premise dry cleaning, using a newly developed, nonflammable chemicals, according to Christine Picchietti, a spokeswoman with the Chicago-based firm that handles the Martinizing account.

Previously, it was standard for dry cleaning stores to be used only for picking up orders. The actual dry cleaning was done only in industrial areas because of the high flammability of the solvent used to clean garments.

Today, Martinizing calls itself "the greener clearer." Stores use silicone-based GreenEarth cleaner rather than petroleum based solvents. Outlets also recycle hangers and polywrap bags.

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