National Laundry Group (NLG) Meeting Roundup

The first National Laundry Group (NLG) meeting of 2019 sponsored by HJ Weir and Linen Connect took place at the Copthorne Hotel in Slough on the 13/14 March. Tina Gleed reports.

Pritpal Purwall from Aeroserve Laundry chaired the event as a stand in for NLG chair Alastair McGuffie.

The conference kicked off with a presentation from Ross Weir, managing director of HJ Weir, with an overview of his company and the history of his family business started by his grandfather. The first product produced by the company in 1956 was the Economatic MK1 – for dosing powders into washers. He then went on to discuss handling the flatwork in the laundry. Ross’s father Rob Weir joined the family business in 1998 as managing director, followed by Ross in 2004 straight from university to assist with sales and marketing.

Moving onto 2016 HJ Weir decided to partner with LACO to introduce an ironer to their already successful range of products, and in 2017 partnered with Milnor to offer washers and dryers to complete the line up. Weir went on to say they are now a global supplier, and last year achieved ISO9001 accreditation, and supply across the world. Wim Opsomer from LACO took to the floor, he explained the origins of the company and the products LACO has developed including the heat exchangers, airstream technology and the 3/4 chest ironer.

He spoke of the company’s 7,000m2 manufacturing plant with its fully equipped showroom. Andy Marsh from Marsh Project Solutions then spoke of the relationship between HJ Weir and Milnor International and how the partnership has revived Milnor’s sales in the UK. The washer-extractors offered by the two companies range from 13kg appliances to the large heavy duty maximum capacity 300kg machines. After the break Vikas Shah, managing director of Swiscot and Linen Connect, outlined the core principle of his business – the customer.

He said their role is to supply the laundry and linen market with the core materials they need to operate. He continued to talk about his premium brand – Charlotte Thomas – as the world’s most expensive bedding with real 22 carat gold woven into it. Shah spoke of the individuals behind the brand and how their roles complement his business.

He also mentioned that his thought process is to have a resilient business and surround himself with people who know more than he does. Their supply chain is one of the key pillars and his business has continued those relationships for over 25 years. He knows through his detailed monitoring of these suppliers how each business works.

Stuart Boyd from LTC tackled a range of subjects including ironer clothing and maintenance of the machines. Polyester in towel ground weave was another subject he broached. Most laundries were unaware that polyester was present in products, they can be labelled 100 per cent cotton, but recent tests showed up to 32 per cent polyester was present. Polyester causes problems such has excessive creasing when dried, retention of oils, particularly spa oils – these oils eventually work their way into the dryers and potentially can be hazardous.

The subject of compressor maintenance was addressed. Boyd claimed compressed air needs to be as cold as possible, with the compressor needing regular checks to ensure no leaks were present. David Stevens the new CEO of the TSA, spoke of his background as former owner of Paragon and how he sold the business to CLEAN. He mentioned how he felt the TSA have gone off piste and become more corporate in recent years losing contact with their members. His role with the TSA is to help engage the membership again. TSA have now changed the name of the laundry and supply partners from auxiliary members to supply chain partnerships.

The challenge is to get medium sized and small laundries on board. He touched on the benefits of joining the TSA from networking to choosing energy brokers and education. John Shonfeld finished the day with an update on a meeting to be held at Launderers Hall on 22 October sponsored by The Roger Oliver Foundation designed for laundry supervisors, junior and senior managers.

With speakers from the industry including Chris Sander, former CEO of JSG and David Stevens CEO of the TSA, this will be followed by a panel discussion with a number of people including Vikas Shah and Alastair McCrae.

The afternoon speaker will be the General of the Royal Logistic Corps, Sir Mark Poffley. During the evening dinner an introduction was made by Linen Connects Vikas Shah to his guest Anna Pangbourne, director for the charity Fashion and Textile Children’s Trust (FTCT) who gave a heart-warming presentation about the financial support the charity gives to families in the UK fashion and textile industry.

The organisation was founded in 1853 when the cotton weaving industry was thriving, the charity counts Charles Dickens and Her Majesty The Queen among their supporters. The evening raised £4,000 from NLG members with both Linen Connect and HJ Weir kindly donating £500 each.

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