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Art Parker owns and maintains the 32 washers and 34 dryers of Wash House, a coin laundry focused on service.
Business spotlight

Cleaning up on laundry

Local entrepreneur says good service key to staying competitive

Wash House

Address: 5108 S. Calhoun St.

At a glance: Provides coin laundry and dry cleaning services

Employees: Two

Annual revenue: $200,000

When was the company founded: 2004

Biggest accomplishment in the past 12 months: Fending off the competition as three coin laundries opened in the area. “There’s only so much of the pie to go around,” said Art Parker, owner of Wash House. “Our customer service is what will keep people coming back.”

What was your biggest mistake in operating this business: In the past, Parker said he may have delegated too much authority to his staff. “I’ve learned that nobody runs a small business like the owner,” Parker said. “So, I had to realize that my attendants are just that.” He also repairs laundry equipment at other facilities and that sometimes takes time away from his own operation. “I have to make sure my own business is ship shape.”

What are the key challenges facing your business or industry: Rising natural gas and water prices from the municipalities. Those expenses can hinder a business’ ability to purchase new equipment.

What is your strategy for staying ahead of your competition: “Customer service is the distinguishing factor. We have something called our Wash-N-Go free service,” Parker said. “This allows customers to spend just 15 minutes or so at the laundry. After they put their clothes in the washer, our attendants will put them in the dryer and then lay their garments out. We can call them when their clothes are done,” Parker said. He repairs his own machines, so customers never have to experience long waits because of equipment malfunctions. The business also offers free popcorn. Parker said the snack is just a way to show customer appreciation.

What resources have you found most helpful in running a business: Parker has a master’s degree in business. During his collegiate career at IPFW, he learned how to interact with people from all walks of life. “I also do my own accounting, so I don’t have to pay other people for that. I try to be self-sufficient, which allows me to keep prices down.”

What are your growth projections for the next five years: The company expects business to remain flat in coming years because of increasing competition.

What is one thing about your business that people might not be aware of: “People sometimes think that only poor people go to the laundry, but many of my customers have washers and dryers at home,” Parker said. “They come here because they don’t want to spend their day washing.” Wash House has 32 washers and 34 dryers, which allows customers to get done quicker, Parker said.

If you weren’t running this business, what would you be doing: A stock broker

Source: Owner Art Parker Compiled by Paul Wyche of The Journal Gazette Business Spotlight profiles small businesses that are at least three years old and have 100 or fewer employees. To recommend a business, email the name of the company and the name and phone number of a contact person to pwyche@jg.net or fax to 461-8893.

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