The Brady Bundle: Jan/San and Laundry
By Nick Bragg, Deputy Editor
With an estimated 30 million visitors annually and 150,000 hotel rooms, there’s only one company that can truly comprehend how much dirty laundry Las Vegas hotels and resorts yield on a daily basis.
Brady Industries, a third-generation Las Vegas-based jan/san distributor with roots dating back to 1947, has been the leader in laundering housekeeping linens for Las Vegas hotels and resorts since the turn of the century.
What began at the behest of a local hotel that needed to have its 30,000 pounds of linens laundered back in 2000, has evolved into Brady Linen Services, a lucrative business sector that consists of six state-of-the art processing facilities that launder in excess of one million pounds of linens a day for 365 days a year (366 days in 2012). Twelve years into this unconventional venture for a jan/san distributor, Brady Industries is now responsible for laundering nearly 90 percent of all of the outsourced linens from Las Vegas hotels.
Going All In
A traditional jan/san house, Brady Industries was founded in Las Vegas in 1947 under the then name, City Janitor Supply, by Feurman Brady. In 1974, Bill Brady, Feurman’s son, acquired City Janitor Supply and formed Brady Industries. In the 1980s, as part of the company’s offerings as a jan/san distributor, Brady Industries sold laundry chemicals and helped outfit and build some of the large commercial laundry facilities in the Las Vegas area.
But as the amount of hotels popping up on the Las Vegas strip continued to multiply, the major resorts that were looking to outsource their housekeeping laundry services didn’t have anyone to turn to. That’s when Brady Industries, with some inherent expertise and insight into developing laundry facilities for its customers, took a gamble. Already supplying the majority of hotels and resorts in Las Vegas with cleaning supplies, the company hit the jackpot with the addition of laundry services.
Since acquiring its first contract with a hotel on the Las Vegas strip in 2000, Brady Linen Services has grown to include six processing facilities. In 2005, the company was passed down to the third generation of Brady’s, Bill’s sons Travis, current president and CEO of Brady Industries, and Eric, current president of Brady Linen Services and CFO of Brady Industries, who have taken an aggressive, all-in approach.
Under the third generation of leadership Brady has grown both organically and via acquisition. Most recently, Travis and Eric led a charge in acquiring the company’s largest laundry competitor in Las Vegas, Mission Industries, for an undisclosed amount, in July 2011. With the acquisition, the company inherited 884 employees and three processing facilities. So, company-wide, Brady now employs more than 2,000 people.
Along with the growth of the laundry division, profitability has followed suit. So much, Eric Brady says that Brady Linen Services, which primarily services Las Vegas, but has a foothold on southern Nevada, has surpassed the jan/san distribution side of the business, which has seven different locations in five Western states.
“Brady Linen Services has been growing significantly year after year,” says Eric Brady. “Now when it comes to the housekeeping linens, there’s really not room to grow anymore, unless they build more hotels.”
Brady Linen’s bread and butter is the housekeeping linen, which includes room linen and also food and beverage napkins and tablecloths. But the company also does a lot more than laundering just the traditional linens for its hotel customers.
“When a visitor checks in at a hotel and they want their cloths washed or pressed, they send it to us to wash and press them and we send them back to the hotel for them to deliver to their rooms,” says Eric Brady.
Brady also offers in-room upholstery cleaning of couches and drapes for the hotels.
Most recently, the company branched out into laundering uniforms. Currently, Brady Linen launders 20,000 uniforms a day, but expects to boost production to 100,000 uniforms a day by the end of 2012, says Eric Brady.
To reach that goal, Eric says the company has started doing route sales, a business model successful employed by uniform rental companies across the country. Brady Industries now has small trucks on the streets that service small businesses for uniforms and will have the ability to pick up 30 pounds of linen, as well as a business’ matting, all at the same time.
“We started doing this to gain market share and gain business from the small accounts that we didn’t focus on before,” says Eric Brady.
This new expansion, Eric Brady says, allows for more market penetration into smaller accounts. It also ties in both the distribution and the linen side of the business. On the jan/san distribution side, the company traditionally has had a minimum order size that a lot of the smaller establishments couldn’t meet.
“But if you bundle the janitorial supplies and the linen together, it makes sense to now service them,” says Eric Brady. “We’re going to be able to service more customers.”
Practicing What They Preach
On the distribution side, Brady Industries offers an extensive laundry equipment selection of products. Because the company does in fact use the chemicals that they sell, Eric Brady says it’s helped better promote the products by walking the talk.
“It’s really helped on the laundry chemical side because we’re the users of the chemicals ourselves,” says Eric. “We’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on these chemicals and I think laundries have confidence in us that they’re getting a good chemical. We wouldn’t use it if it wasn’t the best.”
The company also has an extensive “Go Green” program within their jan/san offering. In an effort to help customers become more environmentally friendly, the company has pioneered a green cleaning partnership named “GoGreen.” The program provides customers with a sustainable business strategy promoting a positive impact on the environment. Going beyond providing green cleaning products, Brady’s program helps customers reuse products where appropriate, recycle when possible, and most importantly, reduce usage by the selection of proper products and procedures.
With one million pounds of laundry being processed each day, one can only imagine the amount of water and chemicals being used. Travis Brady is quick to point out the strides the linen side has made in environmental sustainability in recent years. Reducing water usage is one major improvement.
“Over the past several years we have implemented some water efficient technology that has allowed us to cut our water usage by two-thirds,” says Travis Brady. “So where we used to use over two gallons of water per pound of laundry processed, we now use 0.5 gallons of water per pound.”
Traditionally, the average commercial laundry uses about 2.5 gallons of water per pound of laundry.
“So in essence, we’re using 1/6 of the water, which means we’re using 1/6 of the chemicals, 1/6 of the gas, and that makes a huge impact,” says Eric Brady. “It’s millions of gallons of water that were saving.”
Another unique feature to save on energy costs associated with heating the water for laundering is the implementation of a heat exchanger.
“We have installed heat exchanger technology that allows us to pre-heat our incoming water with the heat of our discharged water,” says Travis Brady. “So, we’ll raise city water to about 100 degrees just with our discharge water. We’ll suck all that heat out, so we’re not having to use resources to reheat the water.”
As far as chemicals are concerned, the company uses environmentally-friendly detergents with zero packaging. All of the chemicals are delivered in bulk via tanker trucks, so there’s no disposal of any chemical packaging.
Another sustainable aspect of the laundering process is the fact that the company has a pretty extensive linen reuse program. For 50 percent of its hotel customers, Brady rents out the linens. If sheets are stained or damaged, Brady will repurpose them into pillowcases. Towels are also repurposed into washcloths or, if applicable, cleaning rags. Travis Brady says the company has even been able to get most resorts that own their own linens to adopt this approach, helping to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills.
Getting in on the sustainability act themselves, Brady recently broke ground on their new distribution facility in Salt Lake City, Utah, where they are pursuing LEED for New Construction certification. Some of the features the new facility will employ include energy efficient lighting, use of recycled materials for building materials, and use of natural lighting throughout the facility. The company is also planning on implementing efforts to give employees alternative transportation to and from work.
Once this building is complete, Travis Brady says he’s hopeful that the push towards LEED in other locations will follow.
“We anticipate outgrowing some of our other facilities and looking then to build new facilities in a number of our markets in the upcoming years. We intend to pattern those after the Salt Lake City building,” he says.
While Brady has had remarkable success over the years, Travis Brady emphatically states that success is directly correlated with the company’s employees.
“Ultimately, the key to our company, while I would like to say our products are significantly different from something our customers could get someplace else, the reality is that in many cases, it’s the identical product in the same box,” says Travis. “So more than anything, at Brady Industries, we bring a group of people that span every part of our operation that are committed to our customers, that are driven to provide value and service, for which we appreciate.”