Ask people to list the household chores they dislike most, and chances are, doing laundry will consistently rank among the top ten. The need and appreciation for clean clothes gets overshadowed by the hassle of having to constantly wash and dry them.
So, when it comes to laundry, “people want flexibility,” says John Sellier, regional director of sales for Mac-Gray Laundry Services, headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts. The company has offices in more than a dozen states, including New York and New Jersey. “They want the convenience of being able to do their laundry when they want, how they want.”
Through a merger in 2014, Coinmach and Mac-Gray together now own more than half the market share of condos and HOAs in the country. CSC ServiceWorks, the parent company, owns a family of nationwide businesses, including Coinmach Corp., Mac-Gray, ASI Campus Laundry Solutions, Sparkle Solutions Corp., Appliance Warehouse of America, AIR-Serv, AirValet, Service Directions Inc. and Super Laundry.
A Necessary Amenity
When some high-rises convert to condominiums, the “flexibility” Sellier references often translates to in-unit laundry equipment. “But there are all sorts of plumbing and venting problems” created by those moves, because many buildings—particularly older construction—aren’t designed for that use, says Barbara Edelstein, a managing member of Supreme Laundry Service, a family-owned company based in Chicago.
So while it’s true that new construction touts space for individual laundry amenities, community laundry facilities are still the norm in older condos and HOAs, as well as newer condos that have been converted from rental apartment buildings where the plumbing will not allow for in-unit machines. Gone, however, are the days of dim and dingy laundry rooms located in a basement that no one really wanted to visit. “We have one building on Michigan Avenue that spent $65,000 to do over their laundry room,” Edelstein says. “It’s gorgeous.”