b'PAGE 6 / NATIONAL CLOTHESLINE / MAY, 2019 Keeping pacehenRhondaEyselwasin- Aftergraduatinghighschool,she there and let people know what you our industry to be educated so they willW stalledaspresidentofthe continuedworkingatMasterKleen do. be able to deal with the customers andSouth Eastern Fabricare Asso- while earning her degree in Business employees and try to grow the indus-ciation during the associations board Administration from Columbus State ver the years, certain changes try.meeting at Jekyll Island in early April, University. O and additions to Master Kleen WheneverRhondaneedsabreakthe timing seemed appropriate. After havehelpedbenefitthecom- from all the stress, she climbs on a Car-all, her familys drycleaning business urrently, Master Kleen has five lo- pany, from adding delivery routes in bon Synapse 5 and rides with her cy-recently turned 50 years old. C cations,45employeesandtwo 1989(Thatwashugeforourbusi- cling group Pedaling for Kids.For the family, its been a long jour- production locations. ness.)toswitchingtobarcoding20 Weraisemoneythroughcyclingney ever since Rhondas grandfather, Rhondas father still works for the years later (That was huge for our in- events for children with disabilities inJ.W. Wade, first opened their Master company, as does her husband, Chris, dustry.). The idea is to keep pace with ourarea,sheexplained.WebuyKleen Drycleaners business in Colum- thoughallthreeofthemwishthey the fast-changing world. equipment for these families that in-bus, GA, in 1969. He was not exactly a could confine their production space to I think businesses should not only surance companies wont pay for andnewcomer to drycleaning at the time. one facility to simply things. stay abreast of what is going on in their that these families just really cant af-When my grandfather bought this, Ideally, my dad and my husband industries, but change with the times. ford.he already had close to 50 somethingyears of experience, Rhonda recalled.He worked for someone else for a long Rhondatimeandfinallygotintoapositionwhere when one became available hecould purchase it. Weve been goingwww.masterkleen.netever since.Evenbackthenthefamilyhadastrong vision in mind for Master Kleen: EyselTo exceed customers expectations byproviding the highest quality in cloth-ing care along with exceptional cus-tomer service with every single experi-ence.Ithinkinthosedayshealwayswanted to provide the very best qual-ity, she added. When things came inour store, he felt it should be the verybest it could be before it could leavehere.Evenwithsuchambition,MasterKleen almost never made it to the sec-ondgeneration.Rhondasfather, and I wish we could get it all under Buy new equipment and maintain that The group, which started in 2010,Warner Wade, opted to pursue a career one roof. It would be so much easier equipment,Rhondasaid.Imean, has helped many families in the pastin real estate, but he was drawn back managed, but its just not in the cards you cant stay the same. Theres no way eight years by using some of the moneydue to two precipitating factors: the re- right now, she noted. Back in 2006, youre going to grow if you stay the they raise to fund projects like convert-cessioninthe1980shurtrealestate wed actually found some property and same. ing a bathroom or a van to make themsalesandJ.W.hadbecomeilland we were going to have plans drawn up No matter how consistent any busi- disability accessibility.needed help. Besides, Master Kleen had for the plant, but then the recession hit ness tries to be, though, there will al-grown a lot since the early days and and we had to back off from that. It ways be inevitable issues that crop up. s rewarding as it all is, it can alsobusiness was booming. was just too much money to put it all Thats why Rhonda believes training is A be hard work and not just be-I do remember back in late 1980s to together. crucial to success. causeRhondaservesontheearly 1990s, we had so many clothes These days there are no longer stacks We really work hard on training groups board of directors. It takes timeback in our plant we had to walk out- of clothing piled up everywhere so its our folks, she said. Our employees and effort.side to turn around and walk back in, a bit easier to keep pace with the work. are an extension of our business so we Its getting warm so Im about toRhonda noted. You just couldnt get But,evenwithdrycleaningvolume want to train them the very best we bust my bike out of storage. Weve gotaround it. down from the busy days of old, Mas- can,makesuretheycanhandleall a ride coming up in Auburn in a coupleter Kleen has diversified over the years these different scenarios that pop up. of weeks, she said. Cycling is fun,rowingupinafamilythat to keep new business coming in. In this industry, if there is one thing but its time-consuming because youveG ownedadrycleaningplant, Since 2007, around the recession, Ive learned, its not all black and white got to load your bike, get all of yourRhondanaturallystartedher wevehadtochangeourbusinessso much grey area to it. Theres so gear together, drive wherever yourecleaning education early. In all, she has modelandhowwedealwithcus- many times that people have to make going to ride your bike, get on it for aover 30 years of experience today. tomers,Rhondabegan.Now,so judgement calls. You just have to make couple of hours, get off, load it back upThis is all Ive ever done. Ive never many companies are letting employees some decisions based on your experi- and go back home. Its not like throw-worked any other job. This is it, she wearcasualclothes.Theyrenot ence. ing on a pair of running shoes and go-explained. My dad would come home dressed up in the suits and ties and Onewaytohelpmakesureyou ing out for a run.when I was like 13 and would say, Hey dresses.Wevehadtojustkindof wind up on the right end of a judgment She certainly racks up a lot of ridinglisten, can you do the time cards? Add change how we do things so we can call is to get to know the customers as miles throughout the year.them up for me really quick. Hed give acclimateandcontinuetogrow.Its muchaspossible,includingtheir Each Fall we do a bike ride across ame ten bucks and Id do that weekly. pretty tough being a drycleaner when habits. different state and we do it over a twoAs time moved on, she expanded youre main thing is drycleaning and If they havent been in, you need to or three-day period, she said. Theher duties, though she probably would youre not getting as much as youre be pulling in reports to see whats go- past two years weve cycled across thehave preferred to never work in pro- used to. ingon.Callthemonthephone, state of Alabama. A few years beforeduction during the sweltering Georgia Thats precisely why it is important Rhonda emphasized. that, we did the state of Florida. Andsummers. to try to offer superior service. In her view, an owner needs to take wevecycledacrossGeorgiathreeIts miserable in the summers. Back I think, at our business, we get a lot an active role to make a positive impact times.then, you had the manual bagging sta- of things that a lot of other drycleaners on their business, which is something She approaches her hobby like hertions. So, every time youd bag an item dontwanttodobecausetheyre she has done with the industry, as well. business: actively. For now, she plansof clothing, the poly was sticking to headaches beads, sequins and special She has served on the SEFA board for to keep riding full speed no finishyour clothing or your sweaty body, trim on things. Thats kind of been our severalyearsnowandisoneofits line in sight, doing her best to keepshe said. thing, Rhonda said. biggest supporters. pace with the leaders of the industry.Now, I feel like weve got the best Truth be told, she was a bit reluctant Our biggest thing with SEFA is ed- I do think its a good time [for thepeople in our area in the industry, she to talk up her company, but she knows ucating the industry. We have a lot of industry], she said. I think its im-continued. These people really work its something all cleaners should do. educational seminars that we put out portant for drycleaners to learn to nav-hard so its a testament to their work If you dont talk about the things in the southeast to try to educate our igate the process of how they can gainethic to be able to come into a place that you do great, no one else will, she cleaners to help them better their busi- more market share and its not just go-that is not completely air conditioned said. You want to do it in a way thats nesses, she said. Were not trying to ing to be from drycleaning. Its goingall of the time. not braggadocios. Put your stuff out make money off them. We just want to be about doing other things.'