At the Gibsonburg laundry plant, Tina Rodriguez folds her way through a small island of clean towels.
GIBSONBURG, Ohio - Leonard Reino has been working for Reino Linen Services Inc. more than 47 years and has seen it grow from a small family-owned dry cleaner into one of the largest commercial laundries in northwest Ohio.
The second-generation firm has been one of the largest employers for many years in Gibsonburg, a Sandusky County village of about 2,500. The company operates a fleet of 12 semi-trailers, four tractors, and three large vans delivering laundry as far away as Cincinnati and well north of Detroit.
"Several times I thought about moving [to a larger city]," said Mr. Reino, now 67.
"But Gibsonburg is a nice community, and the labor supply is good. We just decided to stay here." He said the company employs 147, most of whom live within 20 miles of the plant.
The firm has thrived since it was founded in 1943 by Dan Reino, who died in 1985. The founder and his wife, Mary, who worked in the business, had five children. She died in 1998.
Mr. Reino said all his siblings worked in the business for years, and several still own laundries or dry-cleaning firms, including one in Nashville and one in Grand Prairie, Texas.
Marshall Hill unloads freshly laundered industrial-size mop heads from a giant dryer.
The northwest Ohio site has expanded seven times, grow-ing from 2,500 square feet to 40,000 square feet currently, typically when Reino took on several large hospitals, including St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center and St. Charles Mercy Hospital in Toledo.
It also has several large hospitals in the Detroit area.
In all, it has about 60 commercial customers and does some local dry-cleaning business in Gibsonburg.
Despite high fuel costs in the last year - not only for motor fuel but also for natural gas for its huge dryers - "we're holding our own," said Mr. Reino.
"I think we should do over $8 million this year. We should exceed last year's revenue, but not by as much as we wanted."
His wife, Judy Reino, the president, said the business' niche is that it is able to keep its customers' laundry totally separate so they can own their own linen, as opposed to laundries that deal only with linen rentals.
The firm has some rental business, mostly for clinics and doctors' offices in the region.
The firm passed its inspection this year and was the first hospital laundry to get the stamp of approval from the Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council, of Evanston, Ill., a group formed last year. Mrs. Reino is an initial board member of the group.
"I would say they're very professional, and provide excellent service," said Kent Meyers, metro director of support services for Mercy Health Partners, which operates St. Vincent, St. Charles, and St. Anne's hospitals. "They're big and pretty well automated, and they've helped us reduce our costs."
Dave Tippett, human resources service director for the Employers' Association, Sylvania, said, "I was amazed at how much linen/laundry they turn around daily for a number of very large hospitals along with an amazing safety record."
The firm has gone nearly 600 days without a lost-time injury.
Contact Homer Brickey at: email@example.com or 419-724-6129.
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