By Marcia Todd, FABRICCARE CANADA SEP./OCT. 2010
Walk into TSC WETCLEAN and you come face-to-face with a beautiful wall of flowing water. You get the message immediately: here is an environmentally-sensitive cleaning operation using only water.
Linger a while, as many customers do, chatting with the owners, and you are aware that the Kantzavelos family who owns this plant is made up of really tall people. Dino is six foot, seven inches, Petro is six foot, four and a half and dad Elias is 6 foot, one inch.. Just for the record older brother Tony, who operates Trillium TLC Leather Cleaning, is six foot three inches tall.
The family business has been in the same Mississauga, Ont. plaza since 1988. In 2009 they moved to a 2600 sq. ft. store at the end of the plaza and switched from perc to water.
But the change was made only after Dino and Petro, were able to convince dad Elias to give up his beloved perc.
Elias was convinced that garments would shrink in water. For the first week of wet cleaning he measured every sleeve and every trouser leg before and after processing. Finally, when he was not able to detect any shrinkage, he was convinced that wet cleaning was safe.
Back to the Beginning
The younger generation wanted to make the change for environmental reasons. They wanted to eliminate as many chemicals as they could from the operation. In 2002 they visited George Loney who operates a wet cleaning plant in connection with Solvent-Free Solutions. He convinced the brothers that water was the way to go. But two things held them back at that time.
The first was that they could not see how it was possible to offer their popular one-hour service using George’s system. The second reason was due to the pressure of a profitable sideline: servicing movie locations.
In 1989 the TV series Kung Fu: The Legend Continues started filming in Mississauga. The costume designer asked their company to handle the dry cleaning and laundry. This series filmed for six years in the area, during which time the designer moved on to other projects in and around Toronto. She always recommended the company, then known as Trillium, to do the work.
A call would come whenever shooting wrapped for the day, and Dino would pick up the orders, often from 5 to 10 productions in the same run. He would start the loads and later in the evening Petro would come in and finish the work, with a small night shift. The garments had to be ready for an early morning delivery and perc worked well for this tight schedule.
The Challenge for Water
It was obvious that the process of washing, extraction, drying and finishing had to be expedited before perc could be abandoned. Accepting this challenge Dino and Petro were able to modify two 55-lb. Wascomat washers in the water flow rate as well as the time required for washing and extraction, that allowed for the full process, including tensioning and/or pressing, to be completed within one hour.
The move was accomplished in two days. All the equipment in the old plant was disposed of except for the New Yorker presses which were moved into the new location. Tensioning equipment was purchased to compliment the New Yorker presses.
The Bottom Line
Customers are pleased with the way their clothes look, feel and smell. Counter business is up 20% due, in part, to an aggressive sales campaign in local media and on the internet. Clothes are wet cleaned with “fantastic” biodegradable Concord products, with two different conditioners available. For spotting, wet cleaning products from A.L. Wilson are used.
Business was slow when the new plant opened so there was still one test of the system to go. Could it handle the pressure of movie work if it returned to Ontario? The answer came when two big movies started shooting in January, 2010, and the night pressure was on again. Yes, the techniques perfected for one-hour service stood the plant in good stead when the big orders rolled in at night, required for daylight the next day. The system worked to perfection.
In conclusion, dad Elias has put away his tape measure and his worries about water, the sons have been able to eliminate a chemical solvent, and the customers, including those movie stars, are happy with wet cleaning.