Distributors that diversify into warewashing and laundry will need to carry a new line of chemicals and dispensers. The essential difference is that a jan/san proportioner uses a venturi system, which is vacuum-based and pressurized by water, while a warewashing or laundry system uses a peristaltic pump that draws the chemical into the tube or hose. 

“Often, housekeeping departments can set up their own dispensers,” says Kernes. “It’s just a matter of putting it up on the wall and running your water line through it.”

Warewashing and laundry systems, on the other hand, require a power supply in addition to a water line, and they need to be connected to a washing machine or a dishwasher.

“Typically jan/san chemical proportioning installations are easier and less time consuming, and do not require electronic dispensing systems to be interfaced with the customer’s equipment,” says DeCristofano. “Installing and maintaining warewashing and laundry chemical accounts require more advanced technical capabilities. There is a wide range of machine brands, all requiring subtle differences in how to interface chemical dispensing systems and make adjustments to wash formula programs.”

Depending on the complexity of the operation, a laundry may run 20 or more chemical formulas with eight to 10 chemicals, says Goetz. This requires a laundry specialist akin to a chemist to develop the formulas and an experienced technician to program them at the facility. 

Another potential obstacle for jan/san distributors is the shortage of skilled laundry technicians in this niche market. Kinser estimates that 50 percent of distributors rely on chemical equipment manufacturers’ sales reps to help service and grow their warewashing and laundry accounts. 

Fortunately, laundry specialists also excel at sales — an asset for distributors looking to secure new business.

“They’re good at relationships, so they know how to talk to the facility managers,” says Kinser. “Every time a laundry specialist moves from one distributor to another, he probably has 50 percent of the accounts he had at his previous company within a year.”


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