'Round Table' Business Organization Hosts 80th Annual Meeting

John Coxon

Northbrook, IL, April 16, 2019: The Round Table of Launderers and Dry Cleaners convened its 80th Annual Meeting last month in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. This year's event was hosted by Chair Bonnie Engler of Pilgrim Cleaner, along with her son, Derek. Pilgrim Cleaners is a 27-store operation headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The weeklong gathering is unique because participants do more than just talk about their industry; they also share what they believe to be the secret ingredients that fuel their company's success, fully understanding others in the Round Table are free to adapt these ideas in their own operations.

Round Table membership is available by invitation only, and the group invited three guests this year. Invitees included Brian Butler of Dublin Cleaners (Columbus, Ohio); Wayne and Merritt Edelman of Meurice Garment Care (New York City); and, Simon and Corry Baker of Corry's Fine Dry Cleaning (Seattle, Washington), who also had several other family members in attendance. Their attendance helped make this the organization's largest ever gathering.

Those invited to the Round Table Conference have requirements that go far beyond merely attending the meetings: they're also required to be active participants. For the 80th Annual Meeting, Dublin Cleaners, Meurice Garment Care and Corry's Fine Dry Cleaning helped kick-off the first day of the meeting. Each company provided a one-hour session about their operation, what makes them unique and why they should be considered for membership in the Round Table.

"Regular attendees at the Round Table conference were extremely impressed by the presentations from our invited guests," said Tom Zengeler, President of Zengeler Cleaners. "Our invited guests helped make our 80th Annual Meeting one of our best gatherings ever. Each presentation contained a wealth of practical ideas that could easily translate to our own companies. We have invited Dublin Cleaners, Meurice Garment Care and Corry's Fine Dry Cleaners back for next year's conference, after which they will be eligible to join the Round Table of Launderers and Dry Cleaners."

The open sharing of new ideas is at the core of what makes the Round Table so much different from other trade organizations. This approach continued throughout the conference, with daily presentations from current Round Table members. "Sharing proprietary ideas is the 'price of admission' to attend the conference," continued Zengeler. "Since no two companies are direct competitors, we can freely exchange confidential information."

The Round Table was founded in 1940 when Herb Koch, Lee Workman and Barrett Finn, industry leaders of that era, called for a "Sales Managers Pow-Wow," which was held in Allentown, PA. The meeting moved to NYC for the next 5 years, and became known as the Laundry Management Group. In 1950, the name was officially changed to the Round Table Conference and has remained that way ever since. Today, many "2nd-generation members" are part of the group. The Round Table has never had a paid facilitator; rather, the responsibility is passed from one member to another.

For more information about the Round Table, please contact Tom Zengeler, President of Zengeler Cleaners, at 847.272.6550, ext. 14. Zengeler Cleaners' has eight (8) retail locations, with stores in Deerfield, Hubbard Woods, Northfield, Winnetka, two Libertyville stores, Long Grove along with the company's headquarters store in Northbrook, Illinois … and Online at zengelercleaners.com.

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