Cadell agrees becoming a "fully-rounded" supplier offers benefits to distributors and customers alike. At the same time, though, there are considerations that could give some distributors pause.

"Although laundry is a good revenue stream, the downfall is that you have to have the skill in proper chemistry and programming to be able to provide quality laundry set-up and maintenance," says Cadell. "Or you must find a company looking for a partner who provides the set-up and maintenance service and allows you to simply distribute and bring new customers to the table."

For distributors, laundry programs can be expensive to run and operationally demanding, says Jason Johnson, corporate division manager of laundry and warewash for Brady Industries, Las Vegas.

"There are far more moving pieces and costs other than just selling chemicals and paper," he says.

For facility operators, running on-site laundry is often akin to running their own business, says Johnson. Many laundries function separately from the main property, for example, requiring the management of individual profit and losses. Labor can chew up both budget and the manager's time, making building an efficient and dependable laundry team imperative — something many facility managers and operators tell him is a major issue.

Inventory storage is another consideration for distributors. Laundry requires carrying sufficient stock, since it's essential to have supplies on hand when customers run out.

"There are several stock-keeping units that have to be added in order to keep things running smoothly. Typically, the product is in 5-gallon and 15-gallon drums," says Cadell. "Also, many of the products are labeled as hazardous, so you may very quickly have to address how you are delivering the product and also pay attention to local and federal laws on transporting hazardous materials."

The overall complexity of on-site laundry can prove daunting; there are so many things to take into consideration, says Waite. Facility surveys must be conducted to identify space requirements, water requirements (pressure, temperature, and water softener, if needed), electrical requirements, as well as what is already present, since what the facility has or needs to have will factor into program development.

"There is so much that goes into implementing an on-site laundry program," says Waite. "We partner with Ecolab and Santec, both of whom not only develop the products we offer our customers, but they also service and maintain our customers' laundry programs and their dispensing equipment. As a distributor working with manufacturing partners to provide these services, we're very dependent on their expertise, equipment, service and installation."

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