‘Innovation Is Not Just a Tagline’

By Bob Nieman, CLA Member posted 02-26-2018 10:18

  
Primus Brings More Than 100 Years of Success in Europe to the North American Commercial Laundry Market

Founded in 1911, Primus began its journey in Europe as a manufacturer of residential washing machines and household dishwashers.

During the 1960s, the company realized that the durability and performance of its equipment was ideally suited for the commercial market. And, in the ’70s, Primus made the commitment to focus exclusively on helping its commercial laundry customers achieve their goals.

“For the next 30-plus years, we continued to develop purpose-driven laundry innovations throughout Europe and became recognized as a leader in the industry,” explained Mark Schram, Primus North American sales manager. “We soon discovered there were many more coin laundries and on-premises laundries around the world that could benefit from our passion for problem-solving. And our next venture is presenting our wetcleaning solution, SoftWash, to markets around the world.”

In 2015, the next Primus chapter was written as the company introduced more than 100 years of European ingenuity to the North American market. Today, as part of Alliance Laundry Systems, the company has “more resources than ever to design, create, and support unique laundry solutions built on innovation with purpose,” Schram said.

“Innovation is not just a tagline at Primus – it is our mission,” he noted. “Primus continues to provide engineered solutions to deliver enhanced performance for both end users and business owners. Primus machines in the future will offer greater performance, which can be used in potential new business models, creating additional profit centers for business owners.”

Primus’ Mark Schram recently shared his views on the future of the vended laundry business with PlanetLaundry:

What is the most pronounced trend you’re currently seeing in the industry?

Without question, the trend is bigger. We are seeing bigger stores occupying substantially larger square footage spaces. The other half of that trend is that owners are installing larger-capacity washers and dryers to fill these larger stores. Big machines help customers get in and out quickly and increase the profitability of the store.

What are you most excited about as we head toward mid-year 2018?

We have a strong economy, which I think will lead to more investors entering our industry. As a company, Primus has much to be excited about as we bring industry innovations to the next level. Developments such as our SoftWash system, an alternative to drycleaning, will help owners bring something new to their customers. Additionally, the impact of social media marketing is seemingly endless to attract new customers to any business. Capturing their information can become a critical data point to understanding your specific business location.

What are you most concerned about, from a business standpoint?

Rising utility costs and labor will no doubt play a role in the health of our industry. Labor shortages are becoming more numerous, creating hardships for attended laundries. Likewise, government permit costs, such as impact fees, have the power to increase barriers to entry in the vended laundry industry and make it look far less attractive to newcomers or current owners pondering expansion.

Where do you see the vended laundry industry headed?

Technology enhancements will continue to pace our industry. Vended laundries will embrace these advancements because customers’ expectations are higher. Businesses will have to evolve, and I think we will see wash-dry-fold opportunities grow as vended laundries tap into new customer bases, including millennials. As wash-dry-fold services expand, Primus’ SoftWash could dovetail nicely as an additional offering, delivering significant profit potential.

What's the biggest reason for laundromat owners to be optimistic?

No matter what the economic or political climate, the laundry industry’s resistance to recessions and downturns in the economy is always a cause for optimism. There are plenty of opportunities out there, especially in non-traditional locations and with unique business models. Machine controls have become more advanced, ultimately leading to higher returns on investment and profitability. Better technology can bring in more opportunities and improve customer satisfaction.

What are the keys to successful laundry ownership today?

Owners of successful laundromats not only understand their customers’ needs, but they cater to them as well. In addition, the best in this business are embracing technology, finding ways to keep their stores fresh – with new equipment and maximizing store layouts. Keeping your equipment in peak condition will eliminate downtime and out-of-order signage, which greatly frustrates customers during busy times. In addition, keeping the store clean and well-lit will encourage your customer base to return. Most importantly, owners and their staffs need to interact positively with customers. Clients who feel valued, not taken for granted, become loyal customers who return week after week.
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