A Legacy in Linen Services
Writer Walter Benjamin once referred to wisdom as the “counsel woven into the fabric of real life.” For one enterprise in California, the application of operational wisdom has combined with a legacy in customer service, product quality and environmental responsibility, compelling its distinction as a leader in cleaning the fabrics of real life.
“Some companies so prioritize sales that they fail to focus on what’s more important – service,” says Maynor Hernandez. As the Marketing Director for Medico Professional Linen Service, Hernandez affirms, “Customer service has always been our priority and always will be.” That simple philosophy has led to the creation of an enterprise that has remarkably demonstrated the validity of another assertion, “Give trust and you’ll get it double in return.”
For more than 80 years, California-based American Textile Maintenance Company (ATM) has been the service provider of choice for the cleaning and supplying of a range of textiles critical to healthcare as well as the restaurant, food service and hospitality industry. Depending on the industry being served, ATM may be better recognized by the names of its two corporate divisions: Medico Professional Linen Service or Republic Master Chefs Textile Rental Services. Medico Professional Linen Services has fulfilled the uniform cleaning and linen supply services to some of the most dynamic of hospitals and medical centers in the nation. Its clients include the six hospitals affiliated with Pacific Health Care, the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, the Eisenhower Medical Center, Cedar Sinai Medical Center, Hoag Memorial Hospital, as well as the laboratories and satellite operations of UC Irvine, UCLA and many more. Yet it isn’t only healthcare providers and their patients that demand clean uniforms and linens when sourcing textile services, the same is expected from the operators and guests of restaurants, hotels, spas and amusement parks. Through its Republic Master Chefs division, ATM fulfills needs for another impressive client list that includes Spago, Cheesecake Factory Restaurants, Ramada Inn, Days Inn, Knott’s Berry Farm, and much more. Through its locations in Los Angeles, Long Beach and San Diego, ATM collectively processes almost a million and a half pounds of laundry every week. The expertise Medico imparts in exceeding the strict regulatory protocols that govern the processing of healthcare linens is equally deployed through the diligence of Republic Master Chefs, yet ATM has a rare industry advantage in that it is the only regional provider capable of separating its processing of linens. One plant location may fulfill the laundry needs of acute care surgery centers, while another is devoted to less impacted textiles emerging from medical centers, and yet another responds to needs at restaurants and hotels. Multiple locations allow for dedicated, but separated processing solutions, which all respectively function under a singular mandate to exceed in customer service and operational safety and efficiency. Hernandez says well-honed values of integrity, accountability, customer responsiveness and continuous improvement have enabled ATM to forge client relationships that extend well over thirty years.
Evolution of Excellence
ATM was established in the yesteryear of 1932 by a man known as Sam Snookal. He had acquired a laundry and diligently went about fulfilling orders for various customers. He was a man who believed in efficiency, honesty and living-up to customer expectations in terms of product quality, professionalism and being prompt when it came to deliveries which he fulfilled himself. That same year, Snookal became a new father. Balancing the duties of parenthood with that of operating a business, his daughters would grow right along with the company. ATMC evolved to become the leader in medical uniform and linen services in Southern California. Snookal’s daughter Sondra, matured and later married Mitch Shames. In 1979, her son, Brad Shames, began working at the company and today represents the third generation in family leadership of the company. In an industry that has experienced considerable consolidation and the relegation of operational oversight to management teams as opposed to owners, Hernandez says that Brad Shames has consistently maintained a hands-on role in the running of the company, taking time to personally visit each location every week. “Having an active owner, onsite and daily engaged in the running of the company, you hardly see that anymore in this industry because most operations are left to upper management, but the culture here is different and we’re driven to provide a quality level of service, and we’re constantly monitoring and measuring our performance, surveying our customers, and seeking means to make improvements when necessary… that process is never ending,” says Hernandez.
Today, ATM has grown to employ some 750 people and their collective dedication to duty and operational expertise has helped the company achieve certification by the Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council.
Whether it is a new business or an established brand, ATM reps start by identifying the garments, linens, cleaning materials, and disposables best suited for the business. ATM then helps establish a uniform and linen “inventory” based on what the customer projects to use every week, making sure each has enough to cover any situation, without having too much extra stock on hand. As part of ATM’s quality and inventory control, all apparel is labeled with the account and employee name, a measure that helps ensure customers receive only the garments they order and expect. ATMC will help determine a day of the week for weekly rotation. For example, if on a Tuesday rotation, soiled laundry will be picked up on Tuesday and delivered back by the following Tuesday; this means each uniform wearer will have two weeks of inventory, plus one set he/she is wearing when we arrive for service, in their rotation. Throughout the week, each wearer place all soiled items in specially marked laundry bags. These are picked up by assigned route representatives, and the bag is tagged with a bar-coded label that further helps identify the account. These bags are then brought back to the plant for processing. Within the plant, textiles go through a rigorous 7-step “Green Clean System” that assures the cleanest and freshest garments and linens in the business.
ATM’s eco-sensitive approach to operations is another stellar aspect of the company which was among the first within the industry to embrace standards emerging from the Laundry Environmental Stewardship Program devised by the Textile Rental Services Association (TRSA), a national leader in advocacy, training and professional certification critical to all in this industry. Hernandez explains that through ATM’s commitment to environmental responsibility, new “green friendly” standards have been implemented which serve as a model for everyone in the industry. ATM has set benchmarks that include 40% reduction in pollutants discharged, 40% reduction in pollutants discharged, 60% reduction in water usage, 30% reduction in energy usage, and reliance on environmentally-friendly wash chemical that are anti-pollutant. Hernandez says the technology and engineered systems used by ATM have resulted not only in the conservation of water and energy, but savings in operating costs which allows the company to better contain service fees for customers. “For customers, these measures have helped to demonstrate that we are not only economically prudent, but it helps provide them with greater assurance that they’re sourcing services from a company that is environmentally responsible,” says Hernandez.
As for the future, Hernandez says ATM continues to strive for excellence in its operations and interactions with customers throughout Southern California. While the company recently opened a new plant to accommodate its growing customer base, he says ATM has no plans for moving outside of the market. Hernandez says all at ATM, along with its divisions of Medico Professional Linen Service and Republic Master Chefs, takes great pride in being a California company that serves other California companies. By focusing on quality in its customer service and operational capacity, and by advancing in standards that reflect best practices in environmental stewardship and professional accreditation, ATMC is positioned to further expand upon its legacy as a leader in linen supply and services throughout California.
For more information, please visit their website at Medico Professional Linen Service
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