CROWN LAUNDRY OF SHERBROOKE LIMITED – BUILT ON POLICY OF QUALITY & SERVICE
BY J. M. MERRIMAN
The “Crown” is the hallmark of quality, the symbol of leadership. This is exactly what Crown Laundry of Sherbrooke Limited represents. Modern streamlined plant on Sherbrooke’s King Street West epitomises policy of modernization of machinery and equipment designed to produce the finest in laundering and dry cleaning. The accent is on the best of relationships between employees and management. Three generations of Richardsons have built a business.
WHEN YOU DRIVE into the City of Sherbrooke, in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, you cannot help but notice on the left hand side of King Street W., the huge electric “Crown” sign which towers above the premises of Crown Laundry of Sherbrooke Limited. The “Crown” is the hallmark of quality, the symbol of leadership and that is exactly what Crown Laundry represents, and has been doing so for more than 40 years.
A few weeks ago, while in Sherbrooke to attend the annual meeting of the Eastern Townships Textile Association, this writer, by prior appointment, visited Crown Laundry and spent a pleasant hour or so With the vice-president and general manager, W. S. “Bill” Richardson, a man prominent in the Canadian laundry and dry cleaning industry for many years and one, moreover, who is an avid proponent of closer affiliation between the industry and the primary textiles industry.
In fact, Bill Richardson practices what he preaches in this connection because he is an active member of the Eastern Townships Textile Association and may, in a year or so, become the first member of the laundry and dry cleaning industry on the executive council of a textile technological association.
THE QUALITY POLICY
BUT that is another story. The purpose of this story which is not a new one, entirely is to detail the progress of a thoroughly modern and up-to-date laundry and dry cleaning establishment and to show, at the game time, what organization depends, in the final analysis.
Of course, the laundry and dry cleaning business is not new to Richardson. He has been well indoctrinated into the business ever since he was “knee high to a grasshopper.” But, experience is a great teacher and when one has had the word “quality” so deeply ingrained in him for so many years, it follows that the operations of Crown Laundry Of Sherbrooke should, as closely as is humanly possible, represent the “Crown” symbol which stands high above the plant on Sherbrooke’s King Street West.
Vice-President & General Manager, Crown Laundry of Sherbrooke Limited.
President & Founder Of Crown
To the uninitiated, the foregoing paragraphs might appear to be unnecessary embellishments to a story of a laundry and dry cleaning establishment in the Eastern Townships City of Sherbrooke. Such is not the case, however, for Crown Laundry of Sherbrooke Limited today stands as a living and progressive monument to the work and effort of three generations of Richardsons. It represents also, the trials and tribulations, the joys and sorrows of this family which since the end of World War I, in 1919, to be exact, has striven to provide Canadians in the Province of Quebec with the ultimate in service and quality in the care of their wearing apparel and home furnishings’ goods.
A PANORAMIC VIEW of the plant of Crown Laundry of Sherbrooke Limited, showing the famous Crown electric sign, hallmark of quality and leadership in the laundry and dry cleaning industry in Canada.
THREE generations of the Richardson family have formed the background for this progressive business. William S. Richardson, Sr., father of E. R. “Bob” Richardson, founded the Crown Laundry Co. of Westmount, Montreal, in the early 1906.
After having received skilled training from his father, E. R. Richardson moved to Sherbrooke to purchase a small plant known then as the Imperial Laundry, on Bank Street. The name was then changed to Crown Laundry Of Sherbrooke Limited. At the time of establishment, this plant was solely a laundry, and it was not until 1926 that the machinery for dry cleaning was installed.
In those Clearly days, Bill Richardson told me in his office, the machinery for both laundry and dry cleaning was far inferior to the present modern equipment and methods employed by Crown in its present operation. “We have had to move With the times,” he said, adding: “unless you do this in this as in fact particular industry in any industry today,” you cannot hope to maintain quality and service and without these factors, success is impossible. Consequently, the firm progressed steadily in its growth, as it was Bill Richardson’s policy to attain the standard reached by his father, which was one of the highest in the industry. In 1939, Mr. Richardson’s father was compelled to leave Sherbrooke for Montreal, because of the health of his father, to take over the operation of Crown Laundry in Westmount. At this time his son, Bill, was just completing his education, even though he had been receiving practical training during holidays and summer vacations and actually had learned the complete operation of the firm. But, it was not until 1940 that W. S. Richardson entered the business officially and assumed the general managership of the company.
He could not have chosen a more difficult period to enter the business. World War 2 was raging and Bill Richardson was of military age and ready to enter the service of his country. This placed an exceptionally heavy load on the shoulders of his father in the operation of both plant units in Montreal and Sherbrooke.
WORKED AS HOWEVER, at the conclusion of hostilities, Bill Richardson returned and, with C. C. McLachlan who also had been active in the business prior to the war, set out as a team to progress the plant and plan expansions to provide the quality and service feature inherent in the original policy.
In May 1948, the present plant on King Street W., in Sherbrooke was started and in September of the same year, without loss of time or to its customers, Crown Laundry was completely relocated in a modern building, With new machinery and equipment designed primarily to produce the finest in laundering and dry cleaning.
Although 12 years had elapsed since the Crown Laundry opened
in its new “home” and the time this writer visited its general manager to secure material for a “progress story,” the basic policy of quality and service has not changed one iota. Naturally enough, the modernization program, as far as process equipment, machinery and methods have changed but, after all, this is only in line with policy and to be expected.
For example, the cleaning room is most modern and equipped with petroleum cleaning machines. Here each load is weighed and put into the machines for a 25-minuite period. During this time the solvent is changed 25 times in one a minute, with distillation after extraction. Every operation is timed and the material weighed with every machine being temperature controlled. For the drying operation, four dryers are used, each one drying the garments and removing odour. The Sanitone Process used by Crown Laundry eliminates spotting to a certain extent. In order to eliminate it completely, however, all garments are sent to the Spotting Department, one of the most important in the entire plant. All work travels on a rail, conveyor or slick-rail. All woollen garments are then finished in the finishing room where there are two “air form” finishing machines. Incidentally, this is reported to be the only plant that finishes lining. In the Silk Finishing Department the dresses are examined to determine the fibre classification and all ornamentg or buttons are removed. The dresses are then spotted and cleaned in a special formula, according to classification, dried and deodorized With the original lustre Of the dress restored in the same condition as when it first entered the plant. All pieces are finished by machine With some part of every dress being finished by hand. In the Laundry Department, garments are checked and marked with the “Invisible” marking ma- chine. Washing travels through in lots and involves nine operations. The formula takes 1,500 gallons of water compared With 36 gallons used by the average housewife. Does Crown place the accent on quality? It does indeed, and this is the secret of its success and aemounts for its pre-eminent posi- tion in the laundry and drycleaning industry today.
TOP “WHITENESS” STANDARDS
Crown Laundry has one Of the highest ‘”whiteness” standards in the country, and uses 5,000 gallong of hot water every hour. After the washing operation, the pieces go to the extractor and to other utility units which finish the wearing apparel. All bath towels, for example, are air-dried in tumblers. Three units are used to finish shirts requiring two operations with a capacity of 60 shirts an hour.
A ironer weighing nearly 14 tons is so fine it can take a wet piece of tissue paper from one end to the other without tearing it! Then there is the Sorting De-partment, in which packages are prepared for shipment. All pack-ages are quality finished and wrapped. In order to prevent con- fusion, both for the company and the customer, Crown’s two service stores carry different coloured tags and invoices.
AND What about the employees, who rank high in importance in the eyes and actions Of Bill Richardson. What is done for their welfare and comfort? For the employees at Crown the large majority of whom have been with the company for many years.
There is a spacious, well equipped first aid room, where qualified first aid men are on hand at all times. There is an airy lunch room where employees relax during coffee break or lunch hour. NO smoking, eating or drinking is permitted in the plant proper. Employees is of prime importance. A contented, healthy employee, working under the best possible conditions and with the most modern equipment, will produce work con-sistent with our policy of quality and seveiee. Without them, this would not be possible. It is really as simple as that.” The “service” end of Crown Laundry’s business which means, in this instance, the pick- up and delivery of laundry and hand at all times. “Work in a modern laundry and drycleaning plane is arduous and exacting,” Bill Richardson told me, adding that: “Consequently, the health and Welfare Of our employees is of prime importance.
A VIEW of the Rug and Upholstery Department.
policies Of the firm were increased to even higher standards with completion Of the new plant in 1948.” He outlined the components of the company policy as being:
-TO be leader in the industry as to methods and craftsman- ship.
-TO render to its customers the finest in laundering and clean-
-TO maintffin high standard Of working conditions for its employees.
-To maintain close and friendly relations between management and employees.
-To maintain the high quality standard of care for its Customers’ garments, linens, or household effects during the course Of pick-up, processing and delivery.
-TO offer the highest standard of service to the pub-
-TO advertise only that which is authentic.
DRYCLEANING DEPARTMENT in Crown Laundry’s plant. drycleaning in all parts Of Sherbrooke and also in Crown’s service” is adequately taken ice stores care of. Crown operates a fleet Of eight late-model trucks and customers can also bring their laundry and cleaning to the Service Stores with an eight-hour guaranteed service. In the plant, if customers wish to go there with their clothes, the service takes two hours, without any reduction in the quality of work.
MAIN POLICY POINTS
SO THAT is a summary of operations at the plant of Crown Laundry. Let us now examine a little more closely the high policy standards established by the company at inception and which have been rigidly adhered to with remarkable consistency. Mr. Richardson explained that ‘ ‘with the high standards set down by my father and grandfather, the policy of leadership, Mr. Richardson pointed out concerng methods of processing “these play an ever-increasingly important part in maintaining high quality work.” The firm lays claim to many “exclusives” in its line Of processing.
-The Sanitone Process exclusive to Crown in the Sherbrooke area, which enables constant quality cleaning by a standard formula.
-Total classification of garments, according to material and weight.
-Constant filtration distilation of cleaning golvent, an important factor in soil removal and colour brightness.
-The highest quality of supplies used at all times.
-Protective bags for customers’ garments when picked up for cleaning and when delivered.
Consequently , Crown’s motto is not “Caterers to Cleanliness,” only something which is offered to the public, but rather it is a by word in the plant and fleet as well. Everything in the plant exemplifies cleanliness. The highest standards of good housekeeping are an everyday routine. The plant is maintained in excellent condi- tion by the employees themselves, who take pride in the working conditiong available to them. They take pride in wearing the clean uniforms which are “a constant reminder of what they are producing,” Mr. Richardson said.
TROUSER FINISHING DEPARTMENT
There is also a storage vault rigidly controlled as to temperature and humidity, for all coats cleaned where there is use of a gas to kill any larvae or moths. Good ventilation and lighting facilities are maintained because they are important factors in good working conditions. Sickness among the employees is at a minimum Mr. Richardson explained, “due to the cleanliness and proper humidity and fresh air existing. Trucks are washed every day, making them a travelling billboard as to What they sell and transport. The firm’s salesmen are no exception to the rule,” he added, “you can see them, with their clean white shirts, blue uniforms and ties, and their pleasant manner when they serve’ customers.” In fact, all Crown personnel are willing and ready to serve their best friends: thier customers. Our plant is opened for inspection at all times during working hours.
“OPEN H0USE” PROMOTION
“THIS is an integral part of the company policy originating When the plant was first opened in 1948. That year it was decided to hold an ‘open house.’ I feel sure that the steady increase in our business volume can be attributed directly to this promotion. Many people attending the first such function brought their families along and now the members of these different families arc steady customers of ours.’ so there it is. This is the story of Crown Laundry of Sherbrooke Limited. It is also the story of a laundry and ddry cleaningestablishment built on the solid bedrock of quality and unequalled any-where. This policy is not new. It has been emulated, to be sure, in many other such establishments through-out Canada. But, it is safe to say, that Crown is perchance a pioneer in this regard, so that others have benefitted from observing what has happened in Sherbrooke.
“Bill” Richardson, Crown’s energetic and progressive general manager, hopes this is true because he long has worked in the best interests of the laundry and drycleaning industry in Canada.
ALTHOUGH still a young man, he has had more than 25 years in the industry. Actually, he has served as general manager Of Crown Laundry since 1940, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. His father founded the company in Sherbrooke 1919. His grandfather, William Sutherland Richardson founded the Crown Laundry in Westmount, Montreal 1906. He also helped found the Canadian Research Institute of Laundering and Cleaning and served as its president for two terms in 1936 and 1937. Bill Richardson followed along and was president of CRI in 1955 and 1956. They hold the distinction of being the first father and son combination to have led CRI. During his four years With the Royal, Canadian Air Force in World War 2, Bill set up several laundry and dry cleaning plants for the Canadian Government and his intimate knowledge Of the business helped him when he designed Crown’s new plant in Sherbrooke in 1948.
Article: Canadian Cleaner and Launder July 1960.
I am adding the fact that and very proud to say here that I (Robert G. Richardson) too worked 8 years in the Crown Laundry making four generations of Richardsons in the business.