Wash Cycle Laundry talks with Kenney about bikes, wages, and socially conscious small business
Mayoral candidate Jim Kenney paid a visit to the Wash Cycle Laundry today to talk about the small business with its CEO Gabriel Mandujano.
Philadelphia is the home base of Wash Cycle’s socially and environmentally friendly business model. While they have expanded to Austin and Washington D.C., the bike-delivered laundry and dry cleaning service now has five locations in the Philly area. Most of their customers are larger institutions, but they also have a loyal base of individuals.
The bottom line of their success, however, is that they stay cost-competitive.
“The bikes give us a cost advantage,” Mandujano said. “It’s cheaper to make deliveries on bikes than it is on trucks for a number of reasons. The biggest of which is that, because we use bikes, we can have this decentralized network of facilities. Bikes fit into closets and basements. We don’t need parking lots, loading docks, insurance, and gas.”
In addition to the green delivery, Wash Cycle also uses low-energy washing machines and they conserve hot water whenever possible.
Over half Wash Cycle’s 50 employees come from a vulnerable population, including the formerly incarcerated, homeless, welfare-recipients, and substance abusers. It’s a cause close to former councilman Kenney who has been advocating for better job placement and reentry programs for the formerly incarcerated.
Today, the minimum wage for Wash Cycle’s employees is $10.10 an hour, which is better than the norm. Mandujano is currently working on an expanded benefits package as well. Kenney asked if Mandujano had been contacted about union representation, and Mandujano said he didn't know too much about it.
Atlantic City and Maryland are the industry's regional powerhouses when it comes to laundry service, and believe it or not, Mandujano says that long distance “laundry miles” are a thing. People have their laundry done by out of town companies. But part of Wash Cycle's success is its proximity to their clients. As more organizations try to decrease their carbon footprint, they’re happier to partner up with a positive local enterprise.
Kenney spoke with Mandujano’s employees about everything from how they like the company to which schools their kids go to. He and Mandujano also talked about bikes, and Kenney showed interest in attracting American-made bike manufacturers into town.
“We’re really expanding as a bike city,” Kenney said, adding that he’d be willing to look into “a great manufacturing opportunity” if bikemakers were interested.