The Washroom – A Path to Management

Posted on: July 31st, 2020 by Lukas Voss | No Comments

CITY’s washroom is often described as the heartbeat of the operation by many CITY employees. It’s also considered by many to be an important launchpad for careers in the laundry business.


“Having personally run the washroom, I can tell you that when you come in and you see rows of slings to wash and then you go home and that’s empty, it’s such a sense of accomplishment,” Colin Wetlaufer, CITY’s president said.


As part of his family’s business, Colin spent his early years with the company working in the washroom and learning the ins and outs of the business. Today, he carries that experience into his role as president of CITY and believes the washroom is the perfect spot to start a career.

“Everything is relied upon by you, executing what you are doing,” Colin said. “As the Washroom Operator, you have so much ownership and responsibility. You are running a $3 million room on your own, making decisions about what to do.”


Eric Mast is one of CITY’s current Washroom Operators and a Team Captain among the staff. He first took on the job as a washroom technician and has since moved on to a leadership role inside the plant. To him, his experience in the washroom is invaluable because of the importance to the operation.


“Not only is it physical but it’s a mental challenge as well,” Eric said. “You are responsible for the entire facility. If something happens in the washroom, the whole plant comes to an abrupt stop. You have to be able to adjust on the fly.”


Over 3000 customers rely on CITY’s washroom running flawlessly so they can receive garments cleaned to the highest standards. Mark Ballo is CITY’s Des Moines Regional Manager and member of the executive team. Over 30 years ago, when he started his career at CITY, he ran the washroom.

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“I liken it to what a quarterback does on a football team,” Mark said. “You figure out who needs what and you are able to run and adjust a schedule. I always thought that was cool because people really needed the person who was running in the washroom to be on their A-game.”


Mark says the Washroom Operator can be an important part of the quality and quality control for CITY’s operation. From the right water levels to making sure the chemical formulas are correct, the work in the washroom carries throughout the plant.


“It’s like building a pie,” Mark said. “You have to have all the ingredients and they have to be correct to build a good pie. Running the washroom is a lot like that. You want to make sure you do a consistent job in the washroom and provide a consistent product day in and day out because that’s what our customers are receiving.”


Mark believes the position gave him a chance to show management his talent, skills and his capability of running an important part of CITY’s business. Managing a schedule and being able to produce consistent results is a hallmark of building a strong foundation towards a career in the laundry business.


“If you can manage your schedule, then there’s a pretty good chance you could manage people,” Mark said. “I think the responsibility in the washroom is really a cool gig because you make sure nobody runs out of the work. It’s a real challenge.”


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