(l/r) Maryland Secretary of Commerce Michael Gill; Jolette, Steven and Bernard Young; and Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford cut the ribbon at the formal opening of the new Metro Laundry Service Plant in Elkridge, MD. The plant will process goods mainly for high-end hotel customers.
To meet the growing demand of luxury hotels in the Washington, DC, area for outsourced laundry services, Maryland’s family-owned Metro Laundry Service (MLS) is expanding beyond its Prince George’s County plant with the launch of a second, newly renovated 52,000-square-foot facility in Elkridge, MD. A grand-opening event on Oct. 16 drew scores of area business leaders, as well as Lt. Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford (R).
Bernard Young, MLS founder/president/CEO, led the grand-opening ceremony. He talked about the progress the company has made since it opened its first plant in 2002. That facility measured 1,500 square feet, and had three part-time staff, plus the partners who invested in and believed in Young and his business plan. One of the original part-time employees was Young’s nephew, Steven, who’s now the current COO of both MLS plants.
The company expects to provide 100 new jobs at the Elkridge plant by the third quarter of 2019. Metro Linen will provide its hourly and managerial recruits with rigorous training, Steven said. Some of the workforce-development funds that MLS has obtained will go to provide training that will help them pursue certification with TRSA’s Hygienically Clean certification program for hospitality laundries, he added. Next year, Steven also plans to attend TRSA’s Executive Management Institute (EMI).
Steven hopes that the new plant will replicate the success of the company’s existing plant in Capitol Heights, MD. “We want this to be a mirror image of MLS-1 and the success we had there,” he said. “Hopefully, God willing, if we have the same success here, we will be entertaining MLS-3. Those conversations have already begun. All of this is a vision we’ve all had collectively, and we talk about on a day-in-and-day-out basis and the things we need to do to keep this running. It is a lot of hard work and a long journey, but I found a lot of joy with it, due to the relationships I’ve built over the years with clientele, staff, and management and the opportunity to develop more.”
Rutherford praised MLS for starting small and taking a risk to build a larger enterprise. “In terms of making Maryland more business friendly, so people are willing to take that risk to start a business, we’re working hard every day to make sure that folks like Bernard and others are willing to take that risk and invest right here in Maryland. I want to congratulate everyone who’s been involved in this exciting achievement for Metro Laundry, for Howard County and the entire state.”
The Howard County plant measures twice the square footage of its Capitol Heights location. It’s also outfitted with state-of-the-art technology suited to servicing the luxury, brand hotels (three star and above) that represent a large portion of the laundry’s clientele. The plant uses the latest in radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology from InvoTech Systems, Inc., which allows management to keep track of laundered items via radio-wave information stored on a tag attached to each textile item. This technology allows the plant to monitor how often it’s laundered the linens in order to ensure that customers receive goods of the highest quality. RFID also eliminates the need for manual counting and physical inventory, thus saving time and labor.
The new MLS plant is capable of processing over 14 million lbs. of textiles annually. That’s nearly three times the capacity of the original plant, and will enable MLS to expand its services to properties across the Mid-Atlantic region, thus making Metro Laundry Service one of Maryland’s largest minority-owned businesses.
The new plant includes a Lavatec tunnel washer with 13 110 lb. modules; six 220 lb. dryers and a shuttle system for moving goods from the washer to the dryers. The system is capable of processing up to 3,500 lbs. of linen per hour, using SensoTech software. Other equipment includes four Braun open-pocket washers, three dryers, three complete Braun Precision Flatwork systems, consisting of three spreader/feeders, a small-piece vacuum feeder, three Series 3 roll 32-inch roll steam headed ironers, four large piece folders and stackers and an existing Braun Delta 3S32 ironer. The tumble dry department includes three Braun Precision Series rear discharge small-piece folders and an existing Braun Sigma small-piece folder.