Activities during the first day of TRSA’s 8th Annual Leadership & Legislative Conference neatly fit the first half of this event’s name. Most of the nearly 100 attendees navigated airline schedules snarled across the nation by heavy East Coast snow to prepare to speak on behalf of their industry and companies on visits to Capitol Hill the next day. While this preparation included reviewing pending legislation of concern to linen, uniform and facility services, the groundwork consisted mostly of learning from shining examples of leadership in executive, corporate and public service roles.
Chief among these was the evening presentation of the TRSA Operator Lifetime Achievement Award posthumously to Ronald Croatti. The UniFirst Corp. CEO sparked the Wilmington, Mass. (Boston area) uniform service company’s growth from $100 million to $1.5 billion in annual sales during his 25-year tenure in that position. The presentation by TRSA Vice Chairman James Buik (Roscoe Co., Chicago) acknowledged Croatti’s leadership of association activities, including developing market research and other industry promotions and inviting independent operators to visit UniFirst facilities. Company executives Michael Croatti and Matthew Croatti (Ron’s sons) accepted the award.
Also highlighting the awards dinner was the presentation of the TRSA Maglin-Biggie Associate Lifetime Achievement Award to James Pellerin, chairman and CEO of Pellerin Milnor Corp. A 40-year participant in TRSA activities, he served two terms on the Board of Directors and has been a member of four committees, including chairing the Associate Committee. Buik credited him for improving industry standards through his innovative machinery and TRSA involvement. Under Pellerin, the Kenner, La.-based company has become one of the New Orleans area’s largest exporters, with 40 percent of its revenue in such business.
TRSA Chairman David Potack (Unitex, Elmsford, N.Y.) presented these corporate awards:
Clean Green Innovation Award, Huebsch Services, Eau Claire, Wis., for its solar energy system that provides over one third of the power needs of its laundry there, contributing to overall sustainability.
Above and Beyond Service Award, Up to Date Laundry, Baltimore, where more than 70 employees executed an emergency snow plan that kept healthcare linen customers well supplied with linens when a three-day blizzard dumped more than 29 inches on the city.
Potack hailed three member companies (Community Service Awardsrecipients) for continued exemplary corporate citizenship:
- AmeriPride Services Inc., Minnetonka, Minn., for its annual “Day of Service,” when employees at all locations identify service opportunities and then spend all or part of the workday volunteering or making a product or service that benefits their location’s communities.
- Ecolab Inc., St. Paul, Minn., for its extensive Community Relations Department, which involves present and past Ecolab employees in a variety of programs that focus on education and community partnerships.
- Wildman Uniform and Linen, of Warsaw, Ind., for exemplary support of employees, customers and communities at home and abroad. Company staff receives free counseling, YMCA membership and monthly social events. Employees volunteer locally and Wildman funds such work internationally.
A personal accolade went to Mark Brim, Brim Laundry Machinery Co. Inc. (Hutchins, Texas) for his completed term on the TRSA Board of Directors. Potack credited him for generously giving his time, knowledge and energy to advance the industry and TRSA programs that bring value and success to members. Outgoing board members receive a plaque to acknowledge their service.
These 2017 awards would have been presented at the TRSA Annual Conference in September 2017 in Miami, but that event was canceled due to Hurricane Irma. Potack noted the generosity of many Annual Conference registrants who were willing to donate their registration fees from that event to hurricane relief. This enabled TRSA to provide more than $80,000 to charities serving Florida, Puerto Rico and Texas.
On the afternoon prior to the awards dinner, keynote speaker Kirk Lippold explained how attendees can strengthen the foundation for their companies’ success in adverse circumstances. Now retired from the Navy, he commanded the USS Cole when it was attacked by al Qaeda in 2000. He explained how his officers minimized casualties and saved the ship by making time-critical decisions and noted parallels between this crisis and those faced in business. His crew succeeded because of exceptional integrity, vision, sense of personal responsibility and professional competence. Businesses that identify trustworthy leaders should invest in developing these characteristics in these individuals, he contended, so they can lead effectively when pressured to act in dire circumstances.
Image above: Michael Croatti (L) and Matthew Croatti (R)