MAC Board Meeting Report from Rocky Gap
MAC recently held its Board Meeting at the Rocky Gap Casino Resort in Flintstone, MD.
The Board focussed on four major areas of concern: Membership, Member Services, Education, and next year’s Spring Leadership Conference in Virginia Beach.
“This was a great meeting”, offered Mike McKay, MAC President,. “and I am really excited about the future of MAC. This meeting laid the foundation for a great 2020 and beyond. Our membership has been extremely stable over the past few years, and we have even experienced some modest growth. Most associations throughout the country have been experiencing membership declines and we have been able to buck that trend and we are looking forward. MAC is more financially stable then we have been in well over a decade. All this points to great things ahead.
MAC is making membership growth and retention a top priority. In order to accomplish that, they are recommitting to an aggressive Educational Program over the next year that will include member meet & greets in all areas of MAC. MAC is also committed to a stronger in-field presence and has authorized Executive Director, Peter Blake, to spend more time visiting and interacting with the members and prospective members.
“I am really excited about getting out more to the member,” observed Blake, “and this will give me a better understanding of what our members are looking for and what services will best assist their success.”
The groundwork has also begun on MAC’s Spring leadership program to be held the weekend of May 3rd. The plan is to revisit Virginia Beach, but explore a new facility. Keep watch on www.macassociation.org for updates and for more on the speaker platform.
MAC is on the lookout for members who are interested in joining the MAC Board. If you are interested, reach out and let us know!
Suffolk Quality Cleaners Closes after 72 Years
Tom Williams has been a hands-on owner of Suffolk Quality Cleaners ever since he bought the West Washington Street store in 1987. He was a devout supporter of MAC and DLI and has been a champion of the industry.
Tom joined the MAC Board back in 1995 and has continuously served the industry. He served as President in 1999-2000.
When at his cleaners, he would wait on customers, work the pressers, handle all of the billing and payroll and made any needed repairs. He did it all, but after 72 years
— 32 of those with Williams running it — the store recently stopped taking clothes and will close for good after everyone picks up their items and he empties everything out.
When at his cleaners, he would wait on customers, work the pressers, handle all of the billing and payroll and made any needed repairs. He did it all, but after 72 years — 32 of those with Williams running it — the store recently stopped taking clothes and will close for good after everyone picks up their items and he empties everything out.
“The equipment’s getting older, I’m getting older, my employees are getting older … I have always been a hands-on owner-manager,” Williams said.
When Williams took over operations of the store, he went to dry cleaning school at DLI for three weeks to learn how to operate the equipment. Admittedly, he claims to have known zero about dry cleaning when he took over. Now, ask him anything about any machine in the plant now and he can rattle off exactly what it does, how it works and what it would take to fix it.
The physicality of the work has taken its toll, not only on him, but also on his staff. Williams nearly shut down the store a couple of years ago after having difficulty with inflammatory arthritis that made him incapable of lifting anything for about a year and a half. He also had to deal with the aftermath of the recession that reduced the amount of business he was getting.
He made the decision to close the store in June after one of his longtime employees notified him of her intention to retire after 25 years. This summer, he said, has been much slower than in summers past. With that, the physical nature of the work, as well as his age and that of the equipment, Williams called time on the store. That didn’t make it easier when he broke the news to his employees July 30. Both he and they shed tears.
“I told them, and some of them were crying and they (couldn’t) believe it,” Williams said. “My wife was with me, and I teared up too. It was very sentimental.”
Customers have shed some tears also as word has spread about the store’s closure, and he said he shed more tears after he shut off the pressers for the final time. Williams explained his philosophy of running the store, reading from a handout he has been giving customers as they pick up items for the last time.
“The manager and staff want to thank you for your friendship, loyalty and business,” Williams said. “You notice I didn’t put business first. (I put) the friendship and the loyalty first. We’ve gotten that way. We know people. … They’re not just people who come and give you a dollar. They’re people you bond to.”
“This is a loss for the community,” offered Peter Blake, MAC Executive Director, “and a loss for MAC as Tom will also be retiring from the Association’s Board. He has proved to be a valuable resource for us and the industry. He was a voice for the smaller operator, and a voice for those in the industry in the Hampton Roads area. I am proud to call him a friend, and will still be reaching out for his counsel and guidance.”
No one should be fooled into thinking Williams isn’t going to stay active. After a brief break to recharge, he plans to dive into work with the Boys and Girls Club, and perhaps get back into working with the Boy Scouts, things he hasn’t had time to do while working every day for the past 32 years. Besides, if he stays home too much, he said, he’d only drive his wife crazy.
“I’m energetic,” Williams said. “I do want to spend time and learn and guide and help teach kids, and that’s what I’m hoping to do once I settle down and take a break.”
Meet Your Executive Director
I am very excited to be working with the MidAtlantic Association of Cleaners! I have been involved with the North East Fabricare Association for over 25 years, and I am excited to bring some of that experience and knowledge to other parts of the East. We are currently reviewing our programs and services to see what we can improve, strengthen and add. I have been a featured speaker on marketing, social media, customer service and OSHA training.
All members are encouraged to call or contact me at anytime. I want to hear from you! If there are ways we can better serve you, or things you thing the association needs to be involved in, let us know: (800-235-8360) or e-mail me at email@example.com.
Executive Director, MAC