Multifamily Laundry Options
Today’s State-of-the-Art Laundry Rooms
By Paula Castner
Ask people to list the household chores they dislike most, and chances are, doing laundry will consistently rank among the top ten. The need and appreciation for clean clothes gets overshadowed by the inconvenience of constantly having to wash and dry them.
So, when it comes to laundry, “people want flexibility,” says John Sellier, the regional director of sales for Mac-Gray Laundry Services, which is headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, but provides services nationwide. “They want the convenience of being able to do their laundry when they want, how they want.”
Through a merger in 2014, Coinmach and Mac-Gray together now own more than half the market share of condos and HOAs in the country. CSC ServiceWorks, the parent company, owns a family of nationwide businesses, including Coinmach Corp., Mac-Gray, ASI Campus Laundry Solutions, Sparkle Solutions Corp., Appliance Warehouse of America, AIR-Serv, AirValet, Service Directions Inc. and Super Laundry.
A Necessary Amenity
It’s a necessary amenity, according to David Kule of ACES Laundry Service in Hartsdale, and that is why “a lot of new buildings have washers and dryers built into the apartments.” And, he adds, “Even where it’s prohibited, we’ve found people put them in anyway.” Unfortunately, these less-than-legit installations—often done by the resident themselves—can lead to huge problems if a hose or washer leaks and causes damage to adjoining units.
While it’s true that new construction touts space for individual laundry amenities, community laundry facilities still are still the norm in older co-ops and condominium complexes, as well as newer condominiums, which have been converted from apartment buildings where the plumbing will not allow for in-unit machines. Gone, however, are the days of dim and dingy laundry rooms located in a basement that no one really wanted to visit.
“Years ago, I’d walk into a laundry room and it would be dark and had probably 10-year-old paint. They were dungeons,” says Mark Eisler, vice president of sales for Hercules Corp. in Hicksville. “Today, they’re well-lighted, have nice-looking equipment, tile floors, new lighting. They’re really an amenity. It’s a whole different beast. When co-ops came into play, people really started to take an interest in the buildings. They wanted the laundry room to look as nice as the lobby. It’s a quality-of-life issue.”
Daniel Scharfman of ACES Laundry Service agrees. “We look at buildings all the time, and we find that if you do it right, it’s an amenity; it really makes your building better,” he says. As part of the company’s service, “We’re willing to build out rooms … repaint, maybe put in new windows, LED lighting, to make them nicer.” And, Kule adds, those efforts are also done with an eye to improving energy efficiency.
Forget the Quarters
In fact, community laundry as we know it has changed dramatically for residents of many multifamily co-op and condo buildings. Some these days are going really high-tech, with laundry rooms that do everything except put your clothes in the machine and fold them when they’re done.
For example, you won’t see residents lugging bags or cans of quarters along with their clothes as they head to the laundry room today. “We’re using debit and credit cards,” Scharfman says. “It really makes life easier. People are used to using their cards, they like it, and it’s simple.” Each machine, he explains, has a card reader. Users can simply swipe their credit or debit card just as they do with any other purchase.
“Quarters,” Eisler agrees, “are history. It’s like a black-and-white television.” In the “old days” of coin-op machines, he says, “there were so many service calls because of jammed coin slides, and people trying to use different currencies, or ‘slugs,’ to beat the system.” His company uses coded value cards that customers can load from their debit…