National Clothesline, February 2011

A field trip to the Chicago History Museum for a special viewing of the museum’s wedding gown exhibition was a highlight of the recent Leading Cleaners Internationale affiliates’ meeting.

LCI affiliates were hosted and guided by Timothy Long, curator of the exhibition “I Do, Chicago Ties the Knot.” The exhibition examines how America’s wedding industry emerged and the traditions and practices that have grown up around it.

“In 1924, Marshall Field & Company became the first retail store to offer a bridal registry. They realized the potential of a bride being a customer for not just one day, but a customer for life,” Long said.

Long took LCI affiliates into the back room and basement areas for a unique conservation tour of historical period clothing. The museum’s collection includes nearly 1,000 wedding gowns, suits, and accessories dating back to the 1720s.

“I was truly impressed by our tour and never really knew what went into museum conservation and preservation,” said Margaret Butler of Dublin Cleaners in Columbus, OH.

In another segment of the meeting, the wedding gown processing department of Davis Imperial Cleaners in Chicago was featured. Long-time affiliates and founding members Lynda and Rick Wood, along with their son, Jordan, who represents the next generation of the family business, led LCI members on a tour of their operation. The Woods showed their client viewing area for pre- and post-wedding gown inspection and described their on-going industry technological changes.

Tim Long, Chicago History Museum conservator, explains restoration techniques to Leading Cleaners Internationale affiliates who got a behind-the-scenes tour of the museum’s exhibition on the history of the wedding industry during their recent meeting in Chicago.

LCI’s 2 1⁄2 day fall gathering also featured presentations by guests and affiliate members. Highlighting the meeting was a one-hour candid conversation with Jack Mitchell, author of Hug Your Customer and Hug Your Employees. He spoke on expanding your business in today’s economy.” Another guest speaker, Kristyn Wilson of Media Source in Columbus, OH, discussed media marketing.

Keeping with the meeting’s theme, Qualities of a Leader, topics presented by LCI affiliates included Creating a Company Culture by Kermit Engh of Fashion Cleaners in Omaha, NE, and 2010 Strategic Planning by Claude Foreman of One Cleaners in New Orleans, LA.

At the LCI awards banquet, LCI Secret Shopper presentations were made to Jack Creed of Creeds, in Toronto, ON, for single store and most improved company and to the Butler family — Greg, Margaret, and Brian of Dublin Cleaners in Columbus, OH — LCI’s multi-store shopper award for three or more locations.

Unable to attend this meeting were affiliates John-Claude Hallak of Hallak Cleaners, in New York, NY; Surendra Kumar of Oakwood Cleaners in Nashville, TN; and Jarrell Epp of New City Cleaners in Bakersfield, CA. Chuck Horst of Margaret’s, LaJolla, CA, was represented by family member Jan Bohn.

LCI members in the lobby of Davis Imperial Cleaners are, from left, Jack Creed, Creeds, Toronto, ON; Kermit Engh, Fashion Cleaners, Omaha, NE; Claude and Jeanne Foreman, One Cleaners, New Orleans, LA; Sandy Gershenson; Wayne Edelman, Meurice Garment Care, NY, NY; Barry Gershenson, executive coordinator; Margaret, Greg and Brian Butler, Dublin Cleaners, Columbus, OH; Rick, Lynda and Jordan Wood, Davis Imperial, Chicago, IL; and Jan Bohn, Margaret’s Cleaners, San Diego, CA.

LCI sets standards for specialized drycleaning services that center on the training, development, and acknowledgment of the world’s only five-star couture cleaners.

Cleaners interested in becoming an affiliate can visit or contact Barry Gerhsenson, LCI’s executive coordinator, at (310) 734- 6487.

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