Ambition, a strong work ethic, great people skills and the right partners turned one investment into a growing and profitable business for Jim Adams, earning him the title, “Huebsch® Store Owner of the Quarter.”
Making a late career change and entering a new industry – vended laundry – Adams relied heavily on his experienced Huebsch distributor, M&L Equipment Company located in Akron, OH, for guidance when he purchased his first laundromat nine years ago. Throughout the years, M&L Equipment Company has proven to be Adams’ true business partner and he attributes the success of his four Jennifer Haley’s Coin Laundromat stores in Ohio to their continued support and his trusted Huebsch equipment.
A Transition into the Laundry Industry
Adams spent much of his career as a sales representative for trucking companies and also owned and managed apartment buildings. At the age of 50, Adams felt he needed to make a career change. He was frustrated and unhappy with his sales job and demands of the tenants in his apartment buildings.
“I needed to make a change and was determined to find the right job for me,” Adams recalls. “I was feeling burned out and was tired of tracking tenants down to collect monthly rent payments. I knew that there had to be a better option that would bring in an income, and would allow me to create my own schedule.”
Adams was first introduced to laundry equipment and had some understanding of the operation from the laundry rooms in the apartment buildings he owned and managed. He also knew that laundry is a recession-resistant business. Everyone needs to wash their clothes, but not everyone owns a washer or dryer, and Adams saw this as a profitable business investment. When the laundromat across the street from one of his apartment buildings in Akron, Ohio went out of business, Adams saw it as a great business opportunity.
The laundromat was run down and Adams knew that he needed to replace the equipment for it to be successful. He first went to local retail stores, but they did not carry the industrial commercial equipment he needed. Adams turned to M&L Equipment Company, the distributor who provided the equipment for one of his apartment buildings, to help with the replacement.
Adams quickly learned that M&L Equipment Company provided him with more than just Huebsch equipment. With no initial knowledge of running a vended laundry business, M&L Equipment Company stepped in to share their expertise and understanding of the industry to help Adams get his business started. They provided professional design services to determine the best layout for the store and also helped educate him on the equipment technology so that he could get the most out of its capabilities to improve the user experience for his customers and increase his profitability.
“I have learned a lot about the industry over the past nine years, and I owe a lot to M&L Equipment Company,” Adams says. “From determining the right equipment mix to the best layout of my store, their insight and recommendations were instrumental to my successful start in the laundry industry.”
Becoming A Successful Multi-Store Owner
Adams named the laundromat after his teenage daughter, whose first name is Jennifer and middle name is Haley. After more than three years of running a successful laundromat and gaining experience in the industry, Adams decided to open a second Jennifer Haley’s Coin Laundromat. Other distributors approached Adams regarding his new store, but through his research and experience, he knew he did not want to work with anyone other than his Huebsch manufacturer and M&L Equipment Company. Different from Adams’ first laundromat, the second store was built from the ground up. He relied heavily on M&L Equipment Company’s experience and industry knowledge when planning, designing and constructing the 2,000-square-foot store, which is also located in Akron.
“To have a successful business, you need to have durable equipment,” Adams shares. “It is also critical that the equipment is reliable to avoid downtime and repairs. Huebsch equipment met these needs with my first store and my customers were very happy, which is why I knew there was no other choice than Huebsch when I opened my second store.”
In 2014, Adams chose to expand his business outside of Akron and acquired his third store in Canton, Ohio. His now 3,000-square-foot store is the largest location Adams owns and has plenty of space for large-capacity equipment, including five 75-pound dryers and multiple washers ranging from 20 to 100 pounds. Adams found that the large machines were the most popular in his first two laundromats, which is why he wanted to invest in a location that could accommodate large Huebsch equipment.
In addition to the large size, Adams knew from his experience that this new location, which is located on a main street in town and has a large parking lot, would be an ideal location for a laundromat. It took about six months from the early business planning to open the large Canton store with all new equipment in January 2015. In the first year of business, Adams has almost doubled his revenue compared to the year before.
The success of the third Jennifer Haley’s Coin Laundromat led Adams to invest in another laundromat. Adams’ fourth laundromat, which opened in Q3 of 2015, is a 500-square-foot store located in Akron, Ohio.
By using M&L Equipment Company’s design services for each of his stores, all four Jennifer Haley’s Coin Laundromats have the same look and feel, including the Ohio State Buckeye color paint job that his customers appreciate.
“Over the years I’ve asked a lot of customers their thoughts on the store design and layout and everyone is very pleased. I think it is important for all four Jennifer Haley’s Coin Laundromats to have consistent coloring and aesthetic qualities to create a recognizable brand, especially since I have multiple stores in the Akron area,” Adams says. “There isn’t anything I would want to change about my stores and I couldn’t have done the design and layout without the help of my distributor.”
Financing a Growing Business Operation
In addition to the support from M&L Equipment Company, Adams believes that Huebsch Financial has been key to his success as a multi-store owner. When Adams acquired the first laundromat, he worked with a bank to get a small business loan. After he was running the laundromat and working with M&L Equipment Company, he learned about Huebsch Financial. Adams chose to work with Huebsch Financial when he was ready to invest in his second laundromat because of their knowledge and understanding of the industry.
Adams found that Huebsch Financial has the store owner’s best interest in mind when working with them to open a new business. They were able to work together to develop a flexible payment schedule, which gave Adams time to get his businesses running before a payment was due. If Adams had worked with an outside lender again, he would have had to put around 40 percent down right away, which is not easy for a new business owner.
“If Huebsch Financial did not exist, I probably would not be where I am today,” Adams shares. “They have a strong understanding of the business and because of that, they have been so helpful and easy to work with over the years.”
Due to Huebsch Financial’s unmatched service, Adams also worked with them for his third and fourth laundromat. By partnering with a lender in the laundry industry, they can provide equity financing, which uses collateral from current stores and equipment, as well as a business valuation, to determine a store’s operating income and value to help fund future loans. Equity financing can help store owners grow their businesses more quickly and at a fair valuation – something that many traditional lenders cannot offer.
Dedication to the Business Leads to Success
Adams has found new ways to continue to grow his successful businesses - over the years he has attracted homeowners who use the large-capacity washers and dryers that he offers for specialty loads, such as large comforters and rugs that they cannot wash at home.
Adams also added ancillary services and special amenities to help his businesses stand out from competitors in the area, such as free Wi-Fi, vending machines, air conditioning and clean restrooms. The large store in Canton even has a pool table for customers.
Adams sold his apartment complexes three years ago so that he could make his four laundromats his main priority. He is very happy running his laundromats and it provides him with the flexible schedule he
was looking for when he initially entered into the laundromat business.
Adams spends time in each of his stores every day, using this time as an opportunity to connect with his customers. He wants his customers to feel recognized and welcome, so he makes a point to greet all of them and thank them for their business. Adams also has his name and phone number on the wall in each store and makes himself available so that customers can reach him if they need help when he is not at the laundromat.
“As a laundromat owner I learn something new every day and because of that, I get smarter every day. I like being my own boss and the flexible schedule that goes hand-in-hand with running a laundromat. I’m 59-years-old but can see myself doing this for many more years to come because I enjoy what I do and I am dedicated to making my business successful,” Adams says.