History of Our Association

                     Started in 1983, original board below. New pictures: site under construction

The First Board Members

Many people aren't aware of our history. This association represents drycleaners and launderers and Allied Trades people (the ones who sell you products and services) in the states of Arizona and Nevada. The Allied Trades companies are the main support system of our group. Without them and their generous time and financial support, we would not exist. Every time there is a seminar or educational meeting, it is generally paid for by one of the companies you do business with. I cannot over stress how important they are to us. This is why I have always advocated trading with the people who support our association and thinking twice about trading with those who don't. The ads you see in our newsletter pay for the publication and mailing to nearly 800 plants in Arizona and Nevada! Again without the Allied Trades and their support, there would also be no newsletter.

No doubt in the 100+ history of drycleaning in Arizona and Nevada there have been groups by different names such as Arizona or Nevada drycleaners or laundryman or something. I could find no one who had any history on that. But I do know that we began this group with a few people in the spring of 1983 in a Coco's restaurant on Indian School Road in Phoenix. A young lady named Melinda Hayes, Bell Hop Cleaners, who wanted to start another state association, a General Manager of Prestige Cleaners-David Cooper along with some visionaries such as Allan Chartran of Swan Cleaners, Cheryl Lawson of Sunshine Cleaners, Pete Collas of Acme Cleaners, Mike Smith of Carnation Cleaners, Gordon Oswald of Pride Cleaners, Lowell Lawson, a Laundromat owner, Cheryl Schmalzer, Ed Lippman, Mr. Tingler (served as temporary Executive Director) Laurel Calvert of LaMode Cleaners, Ed Levine of Viking Cleaners and another person or two that I cannot identify from the picture here, made up the original board. There were four women on our original board at a time when there was another association called "Women in Drycleaning" (WID) that was an active chapter in Arizona, but died out soon thereafter.

These people made the initial effort and were named Arizona Drycleaners & Launderers Association (ADLA). Later that first year David Cooper was elected as the first President. Melinda served as the first Vice President and Treasurer. Mr. Frye Sr. of Prestige Cleaners was very helpful in lending David Cooper and offered his help and building to Melinda and this first crew of cleaners in launching their association. His son, Donn is a Past President of the association.

The following year, 1984 ADLA joined us as an affiliate with DLI (then it was the IFI) and then hired a man named John Young whom we all remember as our first paid Executive Director with an assistant and an office. This is when I came to Tucson and I remember working with John doing seminars for ADLA. I also had a breakfast meeting group of cleaners and Allied Trades people that met once a week at a restaurant in Tucson to discuss association business. The year was 1986 and that is when I began writing a column in our newsletter that had been launched in 1985 by a drycleaner in Phoenix that helped the association. No one can remember his name now. By then Charlie Collison was President and we formed a friendship by attending many meetings together. Next was Mike Smith and he too has continued to support us with his time, showing up at board meetings long after he was off the board. Gary Gillespie, the Johnson brothers, Laurel Calvert, Mark Witt and all of our past Presidents served free of time and gave so much more to us than anyone realizes. In this same year the state of Arizona began making waves with the EPA on perc and this was the beginning of our troubles with this solvent. But the sleeping giant lay quiet until the early 1990's.

John Young served as ED for 10 years and left in October 1994. Jill Andrews was hired as Executive Director in 1995 and she lobbied hard for us and helped us learn our way around the capitol. About this time the first committee for the Arizona Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund (WAQRF) was formed as the Arizona legislature sought to create legislation that was "less chaotic" than the EPA superfund effort. ADLA was very involved with this legislation and Melinda, Mark Witt, Mike Smith Asa and Mike Jordan, Dave Link and others attended many meetings at the capitol. An Alliance Fund was eventually started and is still open today (our funds are very low) as we wait for "the other shoe to drop" with this agency. We have pain many dollars in lawyer fees to combat the regulators and we owe a debt to the individuals who continue today (such as Mike Jordan) to keep us appraised of the situation. Melinda served on the Governors Advisory committee and along with Natalie Clapick and together they attended many meetings and visited many, many plants-face to face for several years.

In 1997 we hired Mike Schenck as our Executive Director, working out of his home as we could no longer afford an association office. That same year we affiliated with the state of Nevada and became known as the Western States Drycleaners & Launderers Association (WSDLA). The battles continued with WAQRF and Mike was present at many meetings along with the usual crew of drycleaners and board members helping with the cause. Many Allied Trades people gave time, space and money to help build our Alliance Fund to pay for attorney's costs.

We have had six paid Executive Directors in our history, seventeen Presidents and countless board members in Phoenix, Tucson and Las Vegas. I hope I did not leave anyone out as it took some time to piece together our history. All of these board members continue to give their time free to help serve you. I served as Executive Director replacing Mike Schenck, after fourteen years as a board member and twenty two years as a member and columnist for our newsletter. I am now retired as the Executive Director and living in Amarillo, Texas with my wife and grandson. I continue to write a monthly column for the Cleaner & Launderer. Although I have moved back to my home state of Texas, I still have fond memories of the many years I lived in Arizona as well as the time I spent serving the association. I feel strongly in the importance of cleaners supporting their local and national associations. I hope you do too. 

Kenney Slatten


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