November 26, 2018
TRSA recently held its 105th Annual Conference & Exchange from Oct. 16-18 at The Meritage Resort & Spa in Napa, CA. Nearly 250 linen, uniform and facility services executives and guests gained insights from presentations on technology and family business, plus thought-provoking panel discussions and break-out sessions. They also participated in social events and in the recognition of industry leaders at the Annual Industry Awards Dinner.
Attendees raved about the program, which drew a net promoter score of 74 (anything above 50 is considered excellent). “TRSA’s Annual Conference is an excellent opportunity to catch up with old friends, make new connections in the industry, celebrate those who have contributed to our industry and learn about new best practices,” said Jim Buik, president of the Roscoe Co., Chicago. Gerard van de Donk, managing director of ABS Laundry Business Solutions/LSI Inc., added that the conference offered attendees a prime opportunity for networking. “Every time it is valuable to meet and talk with the executives in our industry,” he said. “That is helping us to define our road map toward creating history together.”
The conference began with a keynote address by Vivek Wadhwa, a technology expert and columnist for The Washington Post and Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Wadhwa’s speech looked at technological innovations. Specifically, he examined how those advances are disrupting industries today and how they will continue to do going forward. From the outset, Wadhwa promised a stirring glimpse of what’s to come. “I’m going to take you on a tour of the future,” he said. “I’m going to tell you why this is the most amazing and scary time in human history.” He proceeded to do just that, elaborating on a range of topics from medical/genetic engineering breakthroughs to progress in robotics, water treatment, nanotechnology, energy and more. For example, he noted that the cost of solar energy is dropping exponentially. Within five years, he predicted that the costs for both solar technology and battery storage units will drop by 50% or more.
Breakout sessions were devoted to current topics including:
- Textile Services Bottom Line Performance, with Andrew Wittmann, CFA, senior research analyst, institutional equities and research, Robert W. Baird & Co. Wittman reviewed trends in textile service markets, including employment rates and the pace of business expansion by commercial laundries.
- Employment Law Trials, Tribulations and Best Practices: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You, with Joseph Shelton, partner, Fisher & Phillips LLP. Shelton gave an overview of trends in personnel issues such as sex discrimination and how employers can avoid lawsuits and maximize compliance with overtime rules and other mandates associated with the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The panel “Global Opportunities and Challenges in the Linen, Uniform and Facility Services Industry” featured Enrique Jacques, COO, LAVARTEX SAPI de CV, Mexico City; Jose Luis Jacques, CEO, LAVARTEX SAPI de CV, Mexico City; Joe Sullivan, national technical operations manager, Spotless Laundries, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia and Chris Sander, CEO, Johnson Service Group. Due to flight delays, Sander was unable to attend the conference. Joseph Ricci, president and CEO, TRSA, reported on the European linen, uniform and facility services market based on a report submitted by Sander. Topics ranged from uncertainty over the recent election of a new president in Mexico to Australia’s 27 years of recession-free growth – fueled largely by exports of mineral ores. In addition, the panel addressed concerns among European operators over rising labor and environmental-compliance costs.
The Annual Conference also included the announcement of two top award winners, including:
Steve Larson, vice president of the North America Division of Alsco Inc, who received the Operator Lifetime Achievement Award, TRSA’s highest honor for a linen, uniform or facility services executive, and David Hart, CEO of Mountville Mills Inc., who received this year’s Maglin/Biggie Lifetime Achievement Award, the association’s highest honor for an associate member executive.
Both men received their awards during conference’s Annual Awards Dinner on Oct. 17. They spoke briefly to thank customers and colleagues, while reflecting on the factors that fueled their respective career success stories.
Also recognized for their contributions to TRSA and the industry were outgoing Board Member Alexis Miller, Regent Apparel; and outgoing TRSA Chairman David Potack, Unitex. Potack now assumes the post of immediate past chairman, while Buik advances from vice chairman to chairman of the TRSA Board of Directors.
The winners of other awards, including those for Years of Service, Clean Green Innovation and SafeTRSA Safety Excellence, will be announced during TRSA’s Legislative Conference on March 20-21, 2019.
In another popular program at the Annual Conference, attendees participated in a lively discussion with industry veterans who spoke as part of a “Legends of the Industry panel.” They included:
- Bruce Boynton, former senior vice president of operations, UniFirst Corp.
- Alan Bubes, former president & CEO, Linens of the Week
- Bill Evans, former CEO, AmeriPride Services Inc.
- Tom Storm, co-founder, Washing Systems (WSI)
- Donald Struminger, chairman of the board and CEO, Mohenis Services Inc.
The closing keynote address was delivered by family businessman and vintner Michael Mondavi, founder of the Michael Mondavi Family Estate. Mondavi reviewed key milestones in the development of the California wine industry, Napa Valley and the challenges and opportunities associated with running a family business.
In addition, nearly 20 laundry decision-makers sat down for direct talks with 15 supplier-company counterparts during two rounds of TRSA’s Executive Exchange program. Operators said they appreciated the concise and focused discussions these meetings provided. Vendors said the exchange meetings provided excellent opportunities to share industry solutions with prospects and current customers. Vendor participants in the exchange meetings included:
- Automation Dynamics LLC
- Ellis Corp.
- Ecolab Textile Care Division
- Fashion Seal, a brand of Superior Uniform Group
- Girbau Industrial
- Kemco Systems Co. LLC
- Hunt Textiles Inc.
- JENSEN USA Inc.
- M&B Hangers
- Leonard Automatics Inc.
- Lavatec Laundry Technology Inc.
- M+A Matting
- Softrol Systems Inc.
TRSA represents companies that supply, launder and maintain linens and uniforms. Our members help businesses, retailers, healthcare facilities, restaurants, government and other organizations enhance their image and provide clean, safe environments for their employees and customers. TRSA strengthens and promotes the linen, uniform and facility services industry by building a stronger, safer and more environmentally conscious community through advocacy, education, research, benchmarking and networking. TRSA quantifies our industry’s commitment to cleanliness and sustainability through its Clean Green and Hygienically Clean Certification programs.