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Looking Ahead-2002 (Part 3)

Many of us are happy that 2021 is behind us. But what lies ahead is unknown.

In this three-part series industry leaders have shared their concerns for the industry, advice for operators, and their COVID experiences.

Today is Part 3 of Looking Ahead – 2022. See Part 1 here and Part 2 here.


Paulo Rocha
Head of Sales – HCS Business Unit
Professional – NAN Region
Míele Professional USA

What are your concerns for the industry?
Fortunately, some are forecasting that the commercial laundry equipment business will grow modestly in 2022, particularly special application niche business. With that being said, I expect that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will continue to force day-to-day challenges and restrictions worldwide, resulting in disruptions in import and export activities. The health of the workers involved, directly or indirectly, will also likely impact the industry.

What advice do you have for operators as they begin a new year?  
COVID-19 can affect the global economy in three main ways: by directly impacting production and demand, by creating supply chain and market disruption and by its financial impact on firms and financial markets. Knowing what solutions your product can offer and focusing your efforts on business channels that need specific solutions is important. Now more than ever you have to think strategically about the future of your business, and how you can help customers adjust to a heightened and ongoing focus on hygiene and disinfection. In that new normal, manufacturers and distributors will need to offer the best protection for their customers linen and laundry.

How have you overcome COVID challenges?
By being attentive to the challenges of the abovementioned issues that the pandemic brought to the market. We have to continue to adapt to changing needs and offer solutions that help our customers grow their businesses with less disruption. Miele Professional laundry equipment and products provide solutions for almost any application, especially when hygiene-related issues are at the forefront. The highest standards of hygiene will continue to be a driving force that guides us, as we help our customers address the unique challenges both today and in the future.


Craig Lloyd

What are the concerns for the industry?
The non-exempt production associate staffing shortage will not be resolved anytime soon.   A random survey of operators from Columbia MO to New Orleans to Chicago and beyond are hiring for soil sort positions from $14.50 per hour to $17 per hour (Bozeman MT).

The consensus indicates that the higher wages are not significantly increasing the supply of candidates nor the retention rate.   The ultimate cost shows up with additional production hours to add an extra partial second shift and / or an extra day (e.g. Saturday, Sunday).  Examples include a Chicago healthcare linen plant running the plant first time ever on Thanksgiving Day.

If operators elect not to add a Production Manager position to the org chart for opening / closing responsibilities then subsequently the Plant Manager’s work week gets extended by many extra hours and or a 6th day. The overextended Plant Managers may opt to look for a job with better work hours. Worse case scenario – the domain knowledge, talent and experience leaves our industry.
The dearth of skilled trade mechanics for maintenance positions has our industry hitting the proverbial wall, with no solution in sight. Hourly wages in some plants have creeped up into the 30 something an hour, but still positions simply go unfilled month after month. In a similar vein, the shortage of chief engineers / maintenance managers has continued the trend of the last five or so years.

Several linen plant operators are borrowing the org chart of uniform rental operators by having the plant manager oversee both production and maintenance departments, subsequently upgrading the title to Operations Manager or Director of Operations.  In this way the maintenance department can be led with a supervisor level employee.

What advice do you have for operators as they begin a new year?
My advice for the operators is to routinely spend time “out on the floor” even if it means occasionally shaking sheets or any other hands-on production activity. Do what you can to self-educate on equipment issues, utility management and safety SOPs.

One of my plant manager contacts with a regional linen operator in the Midwest mentioned their VP of Operations, whose previous career was as a GM with uniform rental companies, is spending many days out on the plant floor to subsequently learn the nuances of linen rental processing along with the physical demands.