A Cleaner World
We Do It Right The First Time Or It's Free!

Our Blog

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Up Close: Chris Edwards by Stephanie Nickell

Reprinted with permission from The Business Journal

HIGH POINT - The transition from one generation to the next in a family business is often tricky. But that was not the case when Chris Edwards became president and CEO of A Cleaner World Dry Cleaners in 1996. The 28-year dry-cleaning veteran keeps things fresh by diversifying, a lesson he learned from his father.

Edwards and his High Point-based team have created several divisions in his tenure at the top, including: Tri State Laundry Equipment, A Cleaner World Smoke & Fire Restoration, A Cleaner World Carpet Cleaning and most recently, A Cleaner World Commercial Services, which is a uniform rental and dust control business.

When was A Cleaner World founded?

The company was started in 1969 with three partners. My dad came to work for them in 1981; I came in 1982. Later, he and I bought the business.

How did it get its name?

The name came before my dad and I got involved, but I suspect there was a practical motivation. Starting the name with the letter "A" put it first in the phone book listings. It's been a good name, but it really does present some challenges - like needing to be good environmental stewards for the planet.

Is the dry cleaning solvent you use safe?

The solution we use is perchloroethylene, or perc, and it is from the same family of cleaning agents used in many household cleaners. We continuously purify and recycle our solvent to ensure that no perc is released into the environment when we dispose of it. We also do a lot of air-quality testing and testing for leaks to make sure no vapors are escaping.

What's it take to work in dry cleaning?

A lot of common sense, following directions and being persistent. If you get a stain on a garment, persistence is where a lot of people fall short. In most of our stores, we have nine basic stain removers and 10 to 12 stain removers for really specific things. For example, we may have three products that will remove ink. One will do well with ballpoint, another real well with felt tip, and another real well with red inks. Some of our competitors are all about turning it over quick. You can't spend 45 minutes on one garment when you are charging $2.50.

What would a busy dry cleaning store make in revenue in a year?

The national average is $362,000 and we are significantly higher than that.

You quit franchising in 1991. Why?

We had a lot of interest in franchising. There were a lot of magazine articles being written about dry cleaning being one of the fastest ways to become a millionaire, which was not entirely true. Franchising is in itself a business, you are either in franchising or you are in owning your own stores; it is hard to do both. We wanted to focus on owning our own stores and putting the proper management in place.

What's been the result?

Better control over the finished product. A franchise owner is like a child, and I mean that in a good way. When they are young, they believe everything you say, they ask a lot of questions and they love what they are doing. When they become a teenager they start questioning Mom and Dad saying, "I can do it better my way." So you get a franchisee who owns his own business and he should have input in how it is done. If you are going to be a successful franchisee, you have to put some of that aside and do it the proven way and do it over and over and over.

We had some franchisees who came in and wanted to be a millionaire in five or six years. That didn't happen, so they sold their stores and chased the next thing. A lot of the franchises we bought back. Today we have 39 stores (in North Carolina and Virginia) and nine of those are still franchises.

Will you try to acquire the last nine?

Yes. As owners retire, that's an option for us.

What changes in technology or culture have affected the dry cleaning business most?

Disco wreaked havoc on our industry. Polyester wash-and-wear was popular from 1972 to 1978 and disco people could wash their own clothes. By 1979, disco was dead and people were burning their leisure suits. The preppy look came back and we kind of had a resurgence back to the more professional look. But I think the move to casual business attire has affected us the most. If you wear khaki pants and a knit shirt and buy the wrinkle-free or wrinkle-resistant fabrics, you can wash and dry them at home.

How do you describe what you do to others?

Our core business is retail dry cleaning, but what we do is sell appearance. We sell textile care and care for those garments to make them last as long as they can. People spend a lot of time finding the right clothes. We see a lot of favorites. They get worn every week or every two weeks. I have never had someone come in and say, 'You lost a garment of mine, but I hated it so don't worry about it.'

What happens when something gets lost or ruined?

Fortunately, it doesn't happen very often, but sometimes we'll transpose a number or put an item in with someone else's order. Even then, when that one garment in 1,000 gets misplaced for a few days, the customer usually brings it back. If we lose it or damage it, we play claims.

How do you keep your work interesting?

New ventures. Besides the divisions of A Cleaner World, I have really gotten into real estate. I have developed our corporate headquarters building (2019 Eastchester Drive) and the office building next door (2017 Eastchester Drive) and have two more spaces on Eastchester Drive that I will develop some time.

What's the wackiest thing you've ever been asked to dry clean?

A Santa Claus suit. It was on a Saturday afternoon one December and all the employees had gone home. Santa came in with a big stain on his suit from a spill. He was going to go do a special event for children that evening, so I said, "Take it off and I'll have it ready for you in an hour."

What is the most terrifying food or beverage you could spill on your clothes?

Anything alcohol on silk is not good. It's bad.


  1. Cleaning companies Melbourne many companies in melbourne. this is the very nice and cheapest cleaning services in all austrailia and provided to many employes and early early and fast working company .this is very helful blog .

  2. Hey, It really is incredibly fantastic and informative website. Good to discover your site Very well article! I’m simply in love with it and if you ask me to describe it in a word.
    شركة تنظيف بجدة

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Thanks for the valuable feedback. I think that strategy is sound and can be easily replicable.Great posts. I love this article. Genuine home cleaning service locally owned and run. Also providing vacate and Business cleaning services Perth. Kali and Ariel’s Home Cleaning.

  5. I all the time emailed this website post page to all my friends, because if like to read it then my friends will too.
    Property sale algarve

  6. Downloading information from this web site is as effortless |as clicking the mouse rather than other websites which shift me here and there on the internet pages.
    Real estate agency Portugal

  7. Hi to every single one, it’s truly a good for me to visit this web page, it includes helpful Information.
    mesh print new orleans

  8. This is brilliant! So very clever, now lets see what else I might catch in my web of silk spirals. Thank you Will!

    4 BHK Flats In Jaipur

  9. Hello, the whole thing is going fine here and ofcourse every one is sharing data, that’s in fact fine, keep up writing.

  10. Thanks for sharing helpful information, I really like your all post. I will bookmark your blog for future updates.

    Property in Jaipur

  11. This paragraph is related to web programming is in fact good in favor of me as I am web developer. Thanks for sharing keep it up.Réparation cellulaire laval

  12. Actually writing computer programs is nothing anyway it's a rationale, on the off chance that you gain power on it a while later you are the expert else nothing.
    Email Hosting Services Singapore

  13. Hello there dear, me notwithstanding my mom are additionally watch enlivening video cuts beside after I completed my work.
    Belastingdienst amsterdam

  14. What a video it is! Really astounding and demanding quality, please transfer more motion pictures having such great quality. Much appreciated.
    Villas for sale algarve portugal

  15. I am curious to find out what blog system you’re using?
    Villas for sale algarve portugal

  16. Hi to every single one, it’s truly a good for me to visit this web page, it includes helpful Information.
    Leisure & Event Applications

  17. Your own one of a kind duty to getting the message all through came to be somewhat capable and have reliably empowered workers quite recently like me to land at their coveted objectives.
    Free home appraisal in Arizona

  18. I adored the essentialness of keeping human/clever touch with the understudies and people in this time of mechanized literacy.Its enchanting Information share.That is splendid and staggering. The headways happening in our nearness are entering every corner - as this arranging case shows up. A promise of thankfulness is all together to share this Heidi. I can essentially imagine what you're staggering extraordinary sorted out tyke will do with this extra inciting power.
    hypnotherapie amsterdam

  19. It's stunning to your careful life partner that is set up to keep up your spirit every opportunity to influence inside your regulated life!You do have such an interesting online journal. Express significant appreciation to you!Great astounding going, I truly like your capacity and look forward for more perform from your side. I'm a dynamic guest of this site and now have recommended diverse individuals.
    Phone repair montreal

  20. Hello there, the whole thing is going fine here and ofcourse every one is sharing data, that is in fact fine, keep up making.
    psychotherapie amsterdam

  21. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  22. Interesting and useful article, I found a few useful ideas for me. I recently advised a service that will help to solve the household chores without applying effort https://youdo.com/india/chennai-services/. After I realized that this is not fraud, but simply a new trend in the business, I took advantage of this and all advise.

  23. I'm happy I discovered this site, I couldn't discover any learning on this matter earlier to.Also work a website and in the event that you are ever keen on doing some guest composing for me if conceivable don't hesitate to tell me, im dependably search for individuals to look at my site. Chaffey Cleaners

  24. Such a good blog for home improvement, get to know about some new ideas and facts related to it. Contaminated Soil NY

  25. This is very informative and interesting for those who are interested in blogging field.
    Dry Cleaning Services / Dry Cleaning Services Near Me


copyright 2015 A cleaner World
Responsive Web Design by BEM
Call Us: 336-841-4188
Dry Cleaning: 336.841.8848
Other Services: 336.992.0070