Students Share Their Experiences at DLI’s School

Mark Villareal, former Navy diver, educator, and real estate business owner, entered the cleaning business when he bought a drop store in Houston, Texas, two years ago. He found success with the drop store and expanded by adding a full plant to his Midtown Cleaners & Tailors operation in August 2022. “I was able to turn [the drop store] around but when it came to the plant, I realized I was walking into a whole new solar system of information for me and I felt really intimidated.” He encountered a problem with a stain and contacted the Stain Wizard, who referred him to the Southwestern Drycleaning Association, who referred him to DLI and its School of Drycleaning Technology.

He enrolled in DLI’s Spring 2023 Introduction to Drycleaning Course calling it “very eye-opening.” He said, “There are two facets that I really enjoy. The first part is collaborating with fellows from the industry. We have all sorts in the class,” he said. “I happen to be an owner, we have general managers, pressers, so it allows me to get a different perspective from different businesses from around the country and how they’re doing their jobs individually and how they’re managing their plants in these different areas,” he said.

“The second, probably the most valuable part of being here, is the hands-on experience,” Villareal said. “Everybody learns differently. For me, I’ve always been a book learner. Give me a book, I’ll memorize it, take a test, no problem. But this is drycleaning. This is hands-on. So, when we go back to ‘The Lab’, probably the best-looking drycleaning plant you could find, and you stand in front of that spotting board, that’s when things become real,” he said.

“We have an amazing instructor, Brian Johnson who is great in the classroom, very informative, but when he gets behind the spotting board, you can tell he’s at home,” he said. “That level of confidence allows me confidence to go about it. If you’re going to mess up, this is the place to do it. That type of practical application is the most valuable aspect of the course.”


Mark Villarreal (left) with Midtown Cleaners & Tailors in Houston, Texas and Ryan Brown with Dublin Cleaners in Columbus, Ohio attended DLI’s Spring 2023 General Drycleaning Course.


Ryan Brown with Dublin Cleaners, a third-generation cleaning business in Columbus, Ohio, said he attended DLI’s course because he’s been working in the industry for 12 years. “Everything I did was front of the house: customer service, sales, big into the technology side but I really knew nothing about how our product is created,” he said. “I knew nothing about pressing, the drycleaning, the chemicals, fabrics. It’s crazy – 12 or 13 years go by and how much education there is still to be learned,” he said. “Attending this DLI class helps me train my customer service reps, my drivers, the customers on things I probably wouldn’t have known. Now, with this class I’m educated even more.”

“Our CEO and President, Brian Butler, empowers our company to become educated. He really wants to have us be trained so we can train our employees and our employees can train our customers,” Brown said. “Between doing this and other educational seminars, we can be the best we can be.”

“Day One was probably a bit overwhelming, learning about things I just didn’t understand on the chemical side,” Brown said, noting the course’s volume of information. “For me, I loved the hands-on training. Being on a utility press or a hot head, being on a spotting board and understanding how to actually get a stain out of a garment is amazing. The hands-on approach in a class like this is honestly priceless.”