Coin-Operated Laundry and Drycleaning

SIC 7215

Companies in this industry

Industry report:

This industry classification covers establishments primarily engaged in the operation of coin-operated or other self-service laundry and dry cleaning equipment either for use on the premises or in apartments, dormitories, and similar locations. These include establishments known as laundromats, launderettes, and self-service dry cleaners. It also includes establishments primarily engaged in installing and operating coin-operated laundry equipment in apartments, dormitories, and similar locations.

The number of coin-operated laundries and dry cleaning establishments in the United States reached a peak of 13,883 in 1997 and declined in the 2000s, reaching 12,185 in 2002, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures, before rising again in the early 2010s. Prior to the early 1990s, the number of establishments hovered between 11,000 and 12,000. By 2010, there were 13,792 coin-operated laundries, according to Dun & Bradstreet's Marketing Solutions. Together these establishments employed 41,435 workers and generated $2.0 billion in revenues in 2009. The majority were primarily engaged in the operation of coin-operated or similar self-service laundry and/or dry cleaning equipment on their own premises. New York had the most establishments in this industry, with 1,857, followed by California with 1,643; Florida with 1,087; Texas with 972; and New Jersey with 668. Massachusetts, with 401 establishments, had the largest percentage of revenues, accounting for $376.9 million, or 18 percent of the nation's total sales. Other top states in terms of revenue were New York ($265 million), California ($226.3 million), and Florida ($140.5 million).

Although the coin- and card-operated laundry and dry cleaning industry remained highly fragmented in the early 2010s, the industry leader was Plainview, New York-based Coinmach Service Corporation. The firm provided laundry equipment for more than 400 colleges and universities in the United States. In fiscal year 2004, the company had sales of $531 million with about 2,000 employees. The Waltham, Massachusetts-based Mac-Gray Corporation was also an industry leader. The company expanded in the 2000s and by 2010 owned card- and coin-operated washers and dryers in some 90,000 apartments, dorms, and other facilities in more than 40 states. Mac-Gray, which earned a majority of its revenues from its laundry facilities, reported $325.9 million in sales in 2009, up from $182.7 million in 2004. Providing card- and coin-operated laundry machines was also an important part of the business operations of EnviroStar Inc. (formerly DryClean USA) of Miami. Although EnviroStar franchised more than 400 dry cleaners in the United States, a majority of its sales came from its subsidiary Steiner-Atlantic, which coin-operated washers and dryers in addition to commercial laundry equipment.

This industry has been quick to embrace technological innovations. The former Solon Automated Services, Inc. pioneered the use of IBM's Application System/400 Model B50 to link each of its sites to a centralized data bank. The system slashed accounting errors with the use of a bar-coding system that tracked the number of coins taken in by each machine and provided useful information about the machines, including use and maintenance records.

Other new technologies included machine-readable cards that operated laundromat washers and dryers in lieu of coins. The cards, produced at Arthur D. Little, Inc.'s Center for Technology and Product Development, held magnetically encoded data with patrons' monetary balances. Patrons used the cards to operate laundry machines, and the machines automatically read and deducted the charges from the card balance. By the late 2000s, users could also use regular debit cards to pay for laundry loads.

In 2002, IBM and USA Technologies launched "e-Suds," a cyber laundry service that was initially offered on some 9,000 washing machines and dryers at colleges and universities throughout the United States. The method involves swiping an ID card or using a cell phone to pay and accessing a web site to locate an available machine. The system can also notify the user via e-mail or cell phone when the load is completed.

An industry innovation that had less success was a chain of laundry superstores envisaged by former Blockbuster Entertainment executives. Founded in 2000, the Fort Lauderdale-based Laundromax was trying to consolidate the coin-laundry business much like video giant Blockbuster did with the video rental business. Laundromax had a goal of operating 600 laundry superstores by 2003 but leveled out after 47 locations and eventually ceased operations in April of 2001.

The industry was served by the Coin Laundry Association, the industry's only national trade association as of 2010.

© COPYRIGHT 2018 The Gale Group, Inc. This material is published under license from the publisher through the Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan. All inquiries regarding rights should be directed to the Gale Group. For permission to reuse this article, contact the Copyright Clearance Center.

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