Prestigious ‘Round Table’ organization holds 83rd annual meeting

Tom Zengeler selected chairman of nation’s premier group of dry cleaning industry leaders.

Each year, the Round Table of Launderers and Dry Cleaners convenes to address mutual concerns along with an open exchange of ideas. Nineteen members recently gathered in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, for the 83rd annual meeting of the prestigious trade organization. The Round Table is an informal group of top executives from laundry, linen, industrial and dry cleaning companies, each of whom was invited to join the organization because their company has continuously demonstrated best practices in the industry.

One tradition of each Round Table conference is to select the incoming chairman to lead the organization. This year, the group selected Tom Zengeler, president of Zengeler Cleaners, the Midwest’s oldest and largest dry cleaner, to lead the Round Table in the coming year. Responsibilities of the incoming chairman include organizing the following year’s conference, including site selection, activities, entertainment and, of course setting the agenda for the next conference. Tom Zengeler succeeds David Machesney, the owner of Pratt Abbott Cleaners, as chairman. Pratt Abbott Cleaners is Northern New England’s largest dry cleaning company.

“I am extremely honored to lead the Round Table in the coming year,” said Tom Zengeler. “Zengeler Cleaners has benefited tremendously from our 20+ year membership in the Round Table, thanks to the open exchange of strategic initiatives and best practices in the industry. Plans are already underway to continue that path next year’s conference, which I am proud to announce will be held at the Shima Kano Hotel, Japan. We selected this location because it offers a unique opportunity for Round Table members to also experience best practices in operations and manufacturing in Japan, as well as those we share about our operations in the United States. We look forward to a very exciting conference next year.”

An open exchange of ideas is the lifeblood of the Round Table. In fact, each participant’s “price of admission” is to play an active role in the conference by leading at least one topic at each conference. Participants agree that confidences remain inviolate, creating an atmosphere allowing an open exchange of priceless ideas for forward-thinking operators. Since no two companies attending the Round Table conference are direct competitors, It’s a common practice to share what otherwise would be highly confidential information. Attendees are also encouraged to visit each other’s operations to further the learning process.

The Round Table was founded in 1940 when Herb Koch, Lee Workman and Barrett Finn, industry leaders of that era, called a “Sales Managers Pow-Wow” in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The meeting moved to New York City for the next five years, and became known as the Laundry Management Group. In 1950, the name was changed to the Round Table Conference and has remained that way since. Today, many “second-generation members” are part of the group. The Round Table has never had a paid facilitator; rather, that responsibility is passed from member to member.

For information about the Round Table, contact Tom at (847) 272-6550, ext. 14), or visit

Zengeler Cleaners, America’s first family of dry cleaning, has locations in Northbrook, Deerfield, Northfield, Hubbard Woods, Long Grove and two stores in Libertyville.

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