ICT Cleaners is making a big play on the local fabric-cleaning scene, taking over the four Martinizing Dry Cleaning franchise locations in Wichita and planning to go after corporate and government contracts in the area.
Former banker Garney Hill and the Rev. Dr. Kevass Harding, of Dellrose United Methodist Church, opened ICT Cleaners in Feb. 2018 with a focus on providing the community affordable, non-toxic dry cleaning and laundry service while also giving back. Among their give-backs are cleaning the bedding for the Ronald McDonald House and giving 10% of a customer’s bill to the church or non-profit of their choice.
The two have been friends 25 years and often spoke of opening some type of business. They grew 37% from their opening to Feb. 2019, and then another 20% during the rest of 2019, Hill said, and were looking to expand their brand.
Opportunity arrived when the owners of the local Martinizing franchise, Nancy and Mark Staal of Andover, approached Hill and Harding about buying them out in late 2019. The deal was effective March 1, and makes ICT Cleaners one of the first minority-owned dry-cleaning franchises in Kansas, Hill said.
“We always had a vision of growing,” Harding said. “Here we are two years later, and we’re scaling up to five locations. There’s golf courses and housing divisions all around them. That really excited me and Garney. We’re definitely going to the next level.”
THE GAME PLAN
There will be a few changes with the merger that should optimize their business strategy, Hill said.
Along with keeping their 20 employees, they will be keeping the Martinizing Dry Cleaners name in place, and also put it on the current ICT Cleaners location at 525 N. Edgemoor, Wichita. Technically, the business’ legal name will be “ICT Cleaners DBA Martinizing Dry Cleaners.”
In addition to 525 N. Edgemoor, the other Wichita locations are Sienna Plaza (7724 E. 37th St. N..); Bradley Fair (2132 N. Rock Rd..); Crestview Plaza (12627 E Central Ave.); and Andover Marketplace (626 S Andover Rd #400, Andover).
Keeping the Martinizing name will enable ICT Cleaners to capitalize on the national company’s recognition and branding, as well as its franchisee support system.
They will shift actual cleaning to the Martinizing facility, but will maintain the Edgemoor store for pickups and drop-offs. The Staals’ Martinizing business has also been using non-toxic cleaners and has won awards for environmental stewardship.
Another change is that Harding and Hill have brought their wives on board to help run the five-store operation. While Hill is director of finance and Harding is director of strategic planning, Sherrie Hill is now director of operations and Teketa Harding is director of business development.
Additionally, Sherrie Hill has been designated as 51% owner – which, along with the company being 100% minority owned, boosts ICT Cleaners’ standing when applying for corporate and government contracts, Hill said.
“Being woman-owned really grows our opportunity,” he said. “A lot of major corporations set aside contracts for minority vendors. We’d like to get on McConnell Air Force Base and some local government contracts.”
Harding says they will also be targeting millennial customers with an app that will alert the business when clothing has been dropped off at convenience lockers around the area. “They’ll love our laundry and folding service, too,” he said.
ICT Cleaners’ success has benefited from Harding’s experience as a “serial entrepreneur” and Hill’s banking background and contacts, they said.
“I used all the business savvy I’ve gained,” Harding said. “This is my third business, in addition to my ministry. We were able to overcome the mom-and-pop obstacles.”
“We have a great following and a loyal client base,” Hill said.
Hill also credits help from Wayne Bell of the local Small Business Administration; Christina Long of Create Campaign; the South Central Kansas Economic Development District; Capitol Federal; and Bank of the West.
“You’ve got to have patience, it’s not going to come overnight,” Hill said. “There’s going to be ups and downs, so be prepared to weather the storm, and you can do it with great mentors and great bankers. Be passionate about whatever you’re doing, have a valid product that fills a need, and value the people working for you and your client base.”
ICT Cleaners / Martinizing Dry Cleaning is open Mon. – Sat. and has free pick-up and delivery. There is usually a two-day turnaround. They also offer laundering services, which includes wash and fold. For info, visit ICTCleaners.com and WichitasDryCleaner.com or call 316-252-8588.