The textile services product mix reflects diversity and creativity in customizing offerings.
The U.S. Census Bureau refers to the textile services industry as “linen and uniform supply” with two broad product classifications fundamentally defining its facilities and core offerings:
•Linen supply, from 1,072 establishments, with more than half of the business from rental of flatwork and full dry linen (tablecloths, napkins, bed sheets, towels, etc.) to the hospitality and healthcare industries
•Industrial laundry,1,488 locations, largely engaged in industrial garment rental, namely work uniforms for various manufacturing, retail, and service industries
These segments provide the same specific product types with linen suppliers more focused on sheets, towels, napkins and tablecloths and industrial launderers on work uniforms.
Industrial Garment Rental
Although uniforms have become more fashionable and customized, through the 1990s, most were solid-color or striped work shirts with nameplates (one with the wearer’s first name and the other with the employer name) sewn or sealed on the fabric above the breasts. More elaborate designs were rented but considered “executive wear.” Today’s mainstream uniform shirts are now available in a variety of styles including micro checks, polos, denims and fancy weaves. Wearer and company names are still standard but words and images are sometimes stitched directly into the shirt fabric rather than onto a patch that’s attached. These are also printed on small pieces of vinyl and sealed. Pants have changed, too. The standard industrial pant (navy, black, other dark tone) is less dominant with more charcoal and gray in the mix and the emergence of khakis, jeans and shorts. Most U.S. industrial rental garment wearers receive a clean shirt and pair of pants every day.
Linen Flatwork and Full Dry Rental
The industry’s primary flat linen products are tablecloths and napkins for restaurants and bed sheets and towels for hospitals and hotels. Whites remain the most popular because they blend well into any existing décor but colors and patterns are becoming less costly thanks to better technology in linen manufacturing. Improvements in fabric technology have created new blends of synthetic and natural fibers so that goods are more durable and resistant to degradation from repeated washing, drying and ironing. These processes have become more refined as well, also contributing to longer linen life. Stains are released more easily, colors do not fade and lint is minimized. These enhancements contribute to a higher-quality guest experience for patrons of hospitality and healthcare facilities.
Linen Garment Rental
These include aprons, lab coats, kitchen apparel, scrubs and smocks worn in a variety of manufacturing and retail industries but most closely associated with restaurants, hospitals and other medical facilities. Unlike industrial uniforms, wearers are not measured for these and they are provided in bulk so that any worker who needs a fresh one can quickly find one that fits (S-M-L-XL). This category also includes gowns for healthcare patients.
Walk-off mats save money for textile services customers by reducing their cleaning labor requirement and preventing dirt from damaging carpet and floor finishes. These nylon-on-rubber mats are used in doorways and other high-foot-traffic areas and removed and replaced with identical products weekly or bi-weekly for washing. The industry also provides other types of mats including anti-fatigue for cushioning workers’ feet at stand-up workstations and scraper for use outdoors or indoors wherever dirt and grime need to be coaxed off shoes. Increasingly, technology is making it easier to customize mats for branding, i.e., logo mats and to deliver relevant messages.
Other Products and Services
Our industry’s dust control products such as industrial wipers (shop towels), mops and cloths help keep workplaces clean. Leases of goods not laundered (usually uniforms) and merchandise resale (such as direct sale of higher-fashion garments) provide garments to workers who wash their lightly soiled work apparel at home. Our replenishment services for first aid and restroom supplies (air freshener, hand soap, cloth roll towels and paper products) improve workplace hygiene. We also do contract work for other launderers.