From its vintage showroom built in 1890, CleanWash Laundry Systems has been a staple in the Omaha community since their opening in 2011.
This month, the Omaha Chamber of Commerce honored them with their Small Business of the Month Award because of their steadfast commitment to quality and service.
Boasting a family history of owning small businesses and the discipline of 16 years in the National Guard Reserve, Todd Santoro realized his potential success as a business owner. In fact, Santoro’s in-laws had an extensive history in the laundry business, owning and managing their own laundromats for more than 50 years.
After buying their first location in 2008, Santoro decided to make the switch from laundromats to distribution; selling and servicing new equipment to local hotels, laundromats, apartment complexes and even prisons.
While most laundromats are owned by families, the average distributor works from a mobile office (aka their vehicle), whereas CleanWash utilizes a more internet-based approach.
This way, they can cover a larger territory of the Midwest including North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Kansas as well as northern Missouri, while sub-offices are available to supplement their headquarters at 4808 South 26th Street in Omaha.
Using a “more 2019 versus 1979” philosophy, Santoro realizes the huge significance of the machines he sells to each businessowner he works with.
“When someone is buying a $30,000 piece of equipment, they want to look that person in the eye,” he said.
Some machines are so large, in fact, that one individual machine may be up to the same size as ten normal top-loader washing machines.
Looking ever toward the future, Santoro points out that one of the main challenges he faces daily is finding good service people.
“It gets harder and harder by the day finding those who have had good mechanical skills from an early age and problem-solving skills,” he said.
In fact, he insists that future generations need stimulation at a young age to develop both technical and mechanical skills. While some may have the misconception that technology is the only future, he stresses, “we need to do something with kids while they’re younger for the trades,” because there is currently a desperate demand.
While building his own business, Santoro loves helping others succeed.
“On the vendor side, we get to help folks build their business,” he said. “I have a gentleman in Council Bluffs getting ready to break ground on a store. He’s gone from being a service tech for a technology company to owning his own business. That’s a lot of fun.”
From another perspective, he also sees businesses that are in dire need of an update. Hotels are a perfect
“The laundry room at a hotel is as non-sexy as it can get, but it’s the heart,” Santoro said. “If they run out of bagels, they can still open. If they run out of sheets …” thousands of dollars in daily revenue can be lost.
With hundreds of pounds of sheets, towels and linens being laundered every day, it is essential to have up-to-date equipment that is well maintained for optimum functionality.
Hotels are required to have more than two times their daily linen inventory on a consistent basis, so having a broken washing machine or dryer is simply not an option.
“We can help them last longer,” Santoro said because the machines that CleanWash distributes are long-lasting and are built for heavy-duty use.
Teaching preventative maintenance is what helps Santoro ensure that the equipment he sells lasts as long as possible.
Dryers, for example, need cleaning at least every six months. If the front panel is not removed and cleaned, excess lint builds up which, according to Santoro, wears on the drum, the belt, the motor and (most importantly) is a major fire hazard! For this reason, CleanWash ensures a follow-up with clients periodically to teach them proper ways of handling industrial equipment.
To maintain functionality, however, it is essential to service and maintain the machines regularly.
“We want equipment that’s going to last,” Santoro said. “The goal is not to replace them every five years. The goal is that in a hotel, if we put a washing machine in, it should be there 20 years from now.”
From the manufacturer to shipping to installation, however, everything must be set up perfectly for a machine to function at its intended rate.
“One little tiny thing missing,” Santoro explains, “and in 5 years the machine needs a $3,000 repair. So, you have to put it in right.”
Having been a part of the Omaha community for years, he is extremely pleased and honored to receive the Small Business of the Month Award from the Omaha Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s nice to be recognized at home,” he said. “We try every day to be the best, most incredible, quality place people can find.”
For more information on CleanWash Laundry Systems, call their showroom at 402-505-4956.
Written for the Daily Record: http://www.omahadailyrecord.com/index.cfm?show=10&mid=84&pid=54