RACINE — A local company has raked in some extra chips with the opening of Potawatomi Hotel & Casino in Milwaukee.
Racine’s Imperial Laundry Services was selected to launder an estimated 1.5 million pounds of linen a year from the 19-story, 381-room hotel which opened Aug. 18, making Potawatomi one of Imperial’s largest accounts, according to company President Gregg Salomone. Imperial, 1236 13th St., will launder all bedding, towels, bathmats and other items and ensures next-day return service.
The approximately 10 percent increase in Imperial’s business allowed it to add 20 people to its previous staff of 90, Salomone said. And, with Imperial’s growth in the hotel and hospital sectors, it recently ordered a $1 million ironer-folder machine now being made in Denmark and expected to be delivered in October.
Currently, Salomone said, “Employees touch every piece of linen five times.” So, with business on the upswing, the private company’s Lake Geneva owners decided to invest in the new device to increase efficiency.
However, the new equipment will not eliminate jobs at the 32,000-square-foot plant that sits between Downtown and Uptown, just east of Washington Avenue.
“The new equipment allows us to process linens faster but not eliminate jobs … because we can put those employees somewhere else in the plant,” Salomone said.
“This is a great example of the impact Potawatomi Hotel & Casino is making on the economy of southeastern Wisconsin,” said Mike Goodrich, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino general manager. “The size and scope of our business has translated into success for our vendors and the businesses they work with, as well.”
Hotels and hospitals
Imperial serves about 10 hotel clients and eight hospitals within about a 125-mile radius, most of them in the Chicago area, Salomone said.
The company, in operation since 1991 and called Imperial Laundry Systems until an ownership change three years ago, operates around the clock and 365 days a year, he said. It picks up, cleans and returns linens within 24 hours.
For hospitals, the term linens includes bedding as well as items such as patient gowns and nurses’ scrubs. Everything is cleaned to exacting government standards for cleanliness and infection control, Salomone said.
For hotels, Imperial cleans bedding, bathroom items and food-and-beverage linens. “We do not treat hotels differently than hospitals; we follow the same protocols,” he added.
The Potawatomi contract started July 17.
“Working with Imperial speaks again to the level of service we’re delivering to our guests,” said Potawatomi Hotel & Casino Hotel Director Hassan Abdel-Moneim. “The assurance they’ve been able to give us regarding timely service and a pristine level of cleanliness is why they were chosen.”
With the Potawatomi account, Imperial will process about 16 million pounds of linens this year and more next year with a full 12 months of Potawatomi business, Salomone said.
With aggressive pursuit of new accounts, he forecast about a 30 percent increase in company revenues this year.