I am a second generation drycleaner who started in the business after graduating high school in 1976. I tell people after that I went to the college of Hard Knocks. I did not have the opportunity to go to the DLI school so I learned the business from the back to the front.
I started on the SEFA (Southeastern Fabricare Association) Board in the early 1990s and served as President in 1998-1999. The knowledge I obtained while serving on that board was priceless. The DLI and the SEFA boards allowed me the experience and knowledge of being part of a cost group. DLI and JSA (Joint State Association) membership has so much for you to be a part of and learn. We hear it all the time “What does being a member do for me?” There is a list a mile long, if you go to DLIonline.org or just call 800-638-2627 they will tell you. If you are interested in applying to be a director just pick up the phone and give us a call.
Writing articles is not my thing. In my world of drycleaning, I get my hands dirty every day. I’m cleaning, spotting, pressing, or working on my equipment. There is a place for all kinds of owners in our business. To run your business from an office desk or getting down and dirty, whatever it takes to get it done.
Over the past several years I have learned from my son, third generation, Clifford Waite, “Don’t let the business run you, but you run the business.” I had a hard time releasing responsibility. I have learned this is the correct way to run a business. It only took me 36 years to find that out. When I have to work in production because of someone being out sick it puts me back to my roots. That is where I started “in the back of the house.”
My son has demonstrated that in today’s world of the millennials we have to focus on customer service and marketing. For example, pickup and delivery service is now 60% of business. Waite’s Cleaners’ numbers have never been better! Drycleaners today have to think outside the box or you will be left in the dust by your competitors.
The equipment now, with tensioning presses, automation in assembly, auto baggers, assembly line, bar coding, computers are now our best – and worst – friends.
I will use this space in each issue for the next year to let you know a bit more about me and what the DLI Board of Directors is doing. Please join me in my journey as DLI President for 2018-2019!