Photo by Hubble Ray Smith.
KINGMAN – Sunil Patel knows a thing or two about the hospitality industry, managing seven local motels and hotels for Advance Management and Investment, including the Hampton Inn, Spring Hill Suites by Marriott and Holiday Express.
Now he’s getting into the dry cleaning business.
“This just ended up in my lap,” Patel said Nov. 1 at a Kingman Chamber of Commerce event marking his new ownership of Toni’s Cleaners. “Someone else wanted it, but they backed out. It was not difficult. We closed the deal in two days.”
Toni’s Cleaners operated at 2205 Airway Ave. for a number of years, but had to discontinue dry cleaning services when the EPA cracked down on perchloroethylene, also known as perc, a solvent used in dry cleaning that’s been identified as a probable human carcinogen.
The previous owner, Toni Jerscheid, wasn’t willing to make a huge investment in new equipment and wanted to retire, Patel said.
Patel spent about $45,000 on a new Union 800 Series dry cleaning machine, including shipping and installation, for a total investment of nearly $250,000 in the business.
McDonough, Ga.-based Union is the largest manufacturer of dry cleaning equipment for use with perchloroetheyne and Class III-A solvents. All machines comply with federal, state and local regulations set forth by the Clean Air Act, according the company’s web site.
Toni’s is now the only dry cleaners in Kingman with its own machine.
“It will be new for me, but I will learn,” Patel said. “We have a plan for coming in here next year and set up a central laundry for all our hotels. That’s our next project.”
The Patel name is common in the Indian state of Gujarat, and is traced back to a meaning of “village headman.” They’re an affluent clan who’ve come to own a diverse portfolio of businesses.
“All across America, Patels own gas stations, hotels and motels, even Dunkin’ Donuts,” Patel said.