What started as an offhand remark from Ceara Templin about the quality and environment of the local laundromat became the catalyst for husband and entrepreneur, John Templin, to envision a new facility, based on comfort and functionality.
By day, John is a power company linesman. His wife, Ceara Templin, is an industrial designer. In the process of finishing construction on their new home during nights and weekends, it was necessary to visit the local laundromat — and it was always an unpleasant ordeal. The lighting was dingy, the machines were frequently broken, the floors were dirty, and the seating was inadequate. The Templins, however, recognized an opportunity … so John turned to the web and picked up the phone to learn about the vended laundry business. He also began to look for a potential site.
John spoke with a few commercial laundry equipment distributors before settling on Daniels Equipment Company of Auburn, New Hampshire, who represents the Huebsch brand of equipment. He forged a strong and mutually beneficial relationship with Tom Tobiassen. Tobiassen provided John with a solid understanding of the laundry business, including the keys to developing and managing an effective and profitable operation. Tobiassen also provided the Templins with insights on floor space needs, equipment infrastructure, equipment and financing. Thus, when Templin found a potential site, he would be well prepared to make an offer.
The Templins’ attention was initially drawn to a vacant furniture store in Winslow, Maine. It needed considerable work. Yet, they bought it and started a four-month project to convert the property, primarily with the help of family and friends. The first thing John focused on was the provision of additional parking. He took 20 feet off the front of the building and erected a new concrete wall and store front. After laying new sewer pipe and connections, he reclaimed the additional space and extended and repaved the parking lot. New insulation, a new concrete floor and enhanced plumbing followed soon after. The next step (before Ceara would plan finishing touches for the store) would be to get the equipment ordered and complete final plumbing and machine infrastructure. Templin called on Tobiassen and Daniels Equipment for help.
“Tom was great,” Templin said. “He took care of everything from operational floor space and equipment recommendations to financing. That allowed me to focus on construction and the renovation of the site. I didn’t have to worry about anything except signing paperwork. He also provided guidance on the plumbing and bulkhead (access ways behind the machines) design. Together, we selected the equipment that would not only suit the space I purchased, but also the primary needs of potential customers.”
With the final infrastructure in place and equipment ordered, Ceara applied her design expertise to making the space inviting and comfortable. She initially focused on macro design elements like lighting, interior paint colors and flooring. The floor tile she selected resembled hardwood flooring. It set the tone for other decorative accents like hardwood islands, folding tables and granite counters. She also selected modern barrel-style, leather seating, allowing patrons comfortable places to wait. They also installed two LED large-screen televisions to carry local and national programming. Snack and beverage vending machines help fortify waiting customers. To add warmth and charm for the winter months, the laundromat also features an electric fireplace.
“John didn’t do the standard things you see at most stores,” Tobiassen said. “He has a lot of beautiful hardwood walls and accents throughout the store. He also installed Wi-Fi and charging stations at the counters to accommodate the needs of the local college students who do homework while they wait. People just came in droves and he was making money within 30 days of opening. He’s in the top 4 percent of my most productive customers.”
Almost a year later, the Templins are experiencing a robust business with hundreds of loyal customers from local apartment buildings and the two universities that are within easy driving distance of the laundromat. Laundry Lounge is a full-service store offering wash/dry/fold services. Yet, it is also designed to accommodate those wishing to do their own laundry.
“We have several different types of equipment in our 2,500-square-foot space, so we can accommodate a large variety of laundry needs,” John said. “Our largest piece of equipment is an 80-pound machine. We also have four 60s, as well as the usual 20-, 30- and 40-pound machines. People are in a hurry. Our goal is to help them get in and out quickly.”
The Templin’s Huebsch equipment features innovative technology, including the Galaxy control system. It helps the store maximize revenue by conserving energy and water, while providing customers with an exceptional outcome in terms of cleanliness. With computer connectivity, the Templins can also troubleshoot and monitor equipment as well as get easy-to-understand reports that help them improve the quality of their operation. What the customers see, however, are intuitive controls and multiple options to yield the best cleaning results.
Another critical element in creating an inviting and comfortable store atmosphere is having onsite staff to welcome and assist customers during operating hours. Initially, John and Ceara spent time tending the store themselves. This hands-on experience lent itself to training and hiring attendants that complemented their vision and managerial styles.
“One of the things I immediately liked about John and Ceara was that they listened,” noted Tobiassen in reflecting upon the success of Laundry Lounge. “John was a great guy to work with and a very talented one. He did a lot of his own construction … and you know, he and Ceara work the business, too. They know firsthand how to create a great atmosphere and keep the place running smoothly. They’re both extremely customer-oriented. They always have a friendly greeting for customers and they keep the place neat, clean and bright.”
Managing three children, two full-time jobs, a laundromat, as well as some rental properties is probably not for the faint hearted. Yet, John’s view probably explains part of the couple’s success. “We all have 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days in the year. It’s up to you what you do with it. We all have the opportunity to be successful if we apply ourselves.”
The Templin’s operation is open every day from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and an attendant is always available during open hours.
To learn more about The Laundry Lounge, visit their Facebook page. To contact Daniels Equipment Co., click here.