Magic Laundry Accelerates Capacity Expansion

Posted Nov 29th 2016 at 11:19AM

Hotel industry textile services provider Magic Laundry Services continues to expand in Southern California. The company recently purchased a new 30,000-square-foot building directly adjacent to its current two facilities. This move brings production space to almost 100,000 square feet. The Montebello, CA, operation will launch a third new laundry plant operation in the added space, bringing its processing capacity to more than 100 million lbs. a year of linens, towels and other textile products for the So-Cal hotel market.


“The expansion will add jobs to our area and create significant additional linen supply capacity for Southern California hotels to outsource laundry operations,” said Harry Kertenian, Magic’s owner and COO. Magic launders hotel-owned linens, supports their inventory management and provides pickup and delivery services from Los Angeles County south to San Diego, north to Santa Barbara and east to Palm Springs. Hoteliers are increasingly turning to such laundry outsourcing to control costs, conserve resources and dedicate building space to other functions.



Magic’s quality and timely service have captured additional business for the operation, he says, enabling the company to invest in its future growth, “providing hotels in Southern California with a true option to outsource for a better future.” Linen services such as Magic are more efficient and effective and less expensive for hotels than operating their own on-premises laundries, as outsourced laundries yield greater economies from processing larger volumes and use less water and energy per pound processed.

This is Magic’s second major expansion in two years, having created a second laundry plant in 2011 and renovating and expanding its original plant in 2015. Each of the three facilities will share newly expanded loading docks that can house up to 17 semi-tractor-trailer trucks at the same time, but otherwise run separate operating plants consisting of six tunnel washers. The newest plant will be equipped with the latest washing and material-handling technologies available, including two new energy- and water-saving tunnels that wash more than 5,000 lbs. an hour each. Six new ironer lines will be added with automated feeders and six automated folders.


Kertenian (shown above at right) observed that Kannegiesser USA has been the turnkey equipment provider for the new plant, providing all machinery for every step of the laundering process, from sorting incoming laundry to folding laundered items. Kannegiesser’s Phil Hart (left) and his team designed washing and finishing processes and blended material handling systems to create a very high efficiency workflow, he said.

Total employment will approach 600, Kertenian forecasts. “Our team and facilities position us to cater to the growing demand. Without the great team here at MLS and their hard work and commitment to the hotel industry, from our management staff to our production line, expansion and growth would not be possible.” He added that Magic is pleased to create new jobs in this community and increase its ability to conserve resources.


The first Magic facility opened in 2004. In 2014, employment stood at 340. The staff grew to 500 with the 2015 expansion. Morale is high, Kertenian says, because the company is busy enough to provide full-time jobs with hourly-plus bonus pay programs. Employees who meet production standards get this extra bonus pay hourly. Other laundry companies, he adds, insist workers constantly attain such standards just to continue employment at base pay.


“Our growth, prior upgrades and compensation and benefits practices have all helped tremendously with employee retention and morale,” Kertenian says. “Our workplace is a family atmosphere.”


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Magic Laundry Services Inc., Montebello, CA, recently opened its plant to unveil the latest technology and equipment upgrades from the company’s $4 million renovation and expansion project. Several of Magic’s hotel customers, prospective customers, utility partners and commercial laundry supplier companies, including TRSA associate members Ecolab Inc., Kannegiesser and Tingue, attended the event.

Attendees got a chance to meet with key members of Magic’s staff and see the facility in action. After gathering in the conference room at the company’s headquarters, Magic COO/CFO Harry Kertenian and his executive team took several groups on tours to show off the latest equipment in the facility, which consists of a pair of buildings that operate adjacent to each other in an industrial area of the city. In the company’s original building, Kertenian replaced two 10-module tunnel washers that the company had used since Magic opened in 2004 with a pair of 13-module Kannegiesser PowerTrans Plus models that were installed in the fourth quarter of 2015. In addition to the tunnel washers, Kannegiesser also installed a PowerPress and 10 PowerDry II dryers to complete the wash aisle upgrade. Kannegiesser President Phil Hart and several staff members were on hand to showcase the equipment.

The upgrades have led to greater processing efficiencies, as well as savings on electricity, natural gas and water use. Kertenian and his staff toured several plants during TRSA’s 2015 European Laundry Tour in London. That event, coupled with the California water crisis, served as the spark for Magic’s plant upgrade. “What we saw touring laundries in London made us realize that investing in the future now was the right way to go, especially at such a crucial time with water,” Kertenian said. “Since we started the business, we’ve known that we’ve needed to steadily find ways to be more efficient.”

With this latest round of upgrades, it appears Magic is on the right path to decreasing the company’s carbon footprint, while at the same time increasing its throughput and attracting new customers in an eco-friendly area such as Southern California.


On vacation from her home in Montana, Terra Pierce couldn’t help but be reminded of Southern California’s parched conditions as she admired the papyrus-lined lagoons, stately palms and hibiscus that populate the lush grounds of the Mission Bay resort where she was staying.

“How could they not use the water to keep everything looking like this?” Pierce wondered as her young granddaughter tinkered with a wind chime outside the Paradise Point Resort gift shop. “They’re one of many beautiful resorts in California and, if they don’t water anything, this would all die.”

What Pierce couldn’t have known is that the operator of the 44-acre property last year replaced 10,000 sprinkler heads with low-flow versions and converted roughly 40 percent of the resort’s 10 acres of grass to drought-tolerant landscaping. And just yards away from where she was standing, a crew of workers was using a forklift to unload a new, 59-foot-long “tunnel” washer designed to cut nearly in half the hotel’s water consumption for laundry.

As San Diego County hotels prepare to welcome millions of summer tourists, they’re under growing pressure to significantly conserve water amid local mandates that water districts pare usage by anywhere from 8 percent to 36 percent. During June, July and August alone, the county’s overnight population is expected to swell by nearly 3 million visitors.


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No longer can hotels simply rely on environmentally conscious guests to heed gentle reminders to reuse their bath towels instead of tossing them on the floor. Nor can they necessarily shame visitors into skipping baths and taking five-minute showers.

Instead, lodging properties are having to get more creative — and disciplined — about controlling water usage, whether it’s foregoing hosing off walkways, converting to less thirsty plantings or spending thousands, if not millions, of dollars to install state-of-the-art equipment to monitor and reduce water consumption.

“The hoteliers I’ve talked to are very concerned about it, but I don’t think the hotels are going to be very successful in getting their guests on vacation to take a short shower,” said Carl Winston, who heads San Diego State’s L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality and Tourism. “If I’m paying $200 for a hotel, I want a long shower. But the hoteliers are saying, ‘We’re going to have to let some brown show up in our greenscape.’ ”

“But remember, when you buy a hotel, you buy it online, and the pictures of the hotel are still going to show green. Guests aren’t going to stop showing up because of the landscaping.”

Hotels don’t want to alienate guests
Nationwide, hotels and other lodging businesses account for roughly 15 percent of all water used in commercial and institutional facilities, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which a year ago launched its Water H20tel challenge to help hospitality businesses ramp up efforts to conserve water.

Closer to home, Mayor Kevin Faulconer assembled two meetings this year with top water users, among them large hotels, to spread the conservation message and encourage them to dig deeper to find ways to curb water use. Both at the state and local levels, there is a recognition of the delicate balancing act hotels face in trying to pare their usage while not alienating guests, who contribute to what is the county’s third-largest economic sector, noted Alejandra Gavaldón, the city’s director of federal government affairs and water policy.

“We are going to continue to see an increase in the number of visitors and hotel nights, which is great for us, but it also creates an additional challenge for hotels if they need to reduce water use,” Gavaldón said. “So the regulations do acknowledge we have certain sectors critical to the economy, and that’s why the state is giving everyone flexibility in how they’re going to impose the (conservation) target.”

Green teams brainstorm conservation
For years, the hotel resorts and casinos that have come to define Las Vegas have, like the rest of the city, recycled all indoor water, which is treated to near drinkable standards and returned to Lake Mead, said Southern Nevada Water Authority spokesman Bronson Mack. And the approval process for new, large resorts requires that they submit a conservation plan detailing how they intend to minimize water use.

Across San Diego County, hotel executives have been assembling “green teams” to brainstorm ideas on how to eliminate water waste. At Paradise Point, where roughly half the landscaped grounds are drought tolerant, that effort began in earnest two years ago, driven partly by a desire to cut rising water bills, said General Manager David Hall.

The first step was to begin a gradual replacement of grassy patches and a tiered waterfall feature with drought-resistant vegetation and a rock garden anchored by dragon trees — despite the initial panicked reaction from the wedding planning team. Next came the installation of a pressure-reducing valve at the juncture of the city’s water main and the resort’s supply line.

“By doing that, every spigot has 25 percent less volume coming in,” Hall said. “If you brush your teeth for 2 minutes, that is a water savings.”

And now the 462-room resort is investing in a new, multimillion-dollar laundry system that can reuse water as multiple loads of towels and bedding move through the gigantic chamber. In replacing its seven 20-year-old washers, the hotel, which processes about 6 million pounds of laundry a year for the resort and a sister property on Mission Bay, expects to save 10 million gallons of water annually. That’s enough water to supply 61 four-person households for a year.

While Paradise Point’s water consumption is down just 1.5 percent so far this year, Hall expects the savings will be closer to 35 percent once all of the initiatives are fully in place.

High-tech laundry
The Hilton San Diego Bayfront uses a high-tech system that reclaims water for washing its 15,000 pounds of laundry daily. — John Gastaldo
The 1,190-room Hilton San Diego Bayfront, one of San Diego’s largest hotels, has been using for more than two years a high-tech laundry system similar to Paradise Point’s that filters and reclaims 70 percent of the water used for cleaning dirty laundry. Since it was installed in late 2012, it has recycled more than 24 million gallons of water that would have otherwise been flushed into the sewer system as the hotel processes 15,000 pounds of laundry per day, said Justin Jolicoeur, the hotel’s vice president of operations.

In an effort to conserve even more, Jolicoeur said he is exploring the possibility of purchasing a $25,000 dry ice system to power wash the hotel exterior without using any water. The Hilton currently uses a company to pressure wash the exterior once a month.

Some hotels have opted to get a quick water-savings fix by simply outsourcing their in-house laundry service to companies that have the kind of expensive equipment to clean sheets and towels more efficiently and with less water. The Manchester Grand Hyatt, San Diego’s largest hotel at 1,625 rooms, began exporting its laundry to a Los Angeles-based company at the end of last year, and most of its 7 percent drop in water usage is because of that change, the hotel said. Earlier this year, the 45-acre Rancho Valencia resort in Rancho Santa Fe also moved its laundry operation off-site.

Harry Kertenian, owner of Magic Laundry Services, which does laundry for a number of San Diego hotels, including the Hyatt, said it is definitely seeing an increase in the number of hotels deciding to sign on with his company, which has the financial wherewithal to invest in costly technology that conserves far more water than conventional washing machines.

Loews Coronado now washes its pool deck with a water-efficient, motorized scrubber instead of using a hose — a 75 percent savings. — John Gastaldo
The Loews Coronado Bay Resort, while it has not made any major changes in its laundry operation, has seen a 6 percent drop in water use per occupied hotel room after spending $54,000 this year to switch out 15 percent of the landscaping to drought-tolerant plants such as pygmy palms and star jasmine, and by installing drip irrigation on parts of the property. It also has stopped the wasteful practice of daily hosing off the resort’s pool deck and last year went with a sort of mini street sweeper that uses far less water.

“The other big area we’ve been working on is talking to our meeting planners about the drought and not automatically presetting water,” said hotel manager Darren Pound. “We’re now putting it on our banquet orders; ‘water on request only.’ Many are saying, ‘You’re absolutely right, I don’t need water for all 200 people for breakfast.’ We’re cutting the number of water pitchers in half.”

Even the 1,065-room Harrahs Resort Southern California in Valley Center, which relies on well water and is not under a formal mandate to cut back, has been undertaking a number of initiatives, including disconnecting some of the resort’s decorative fountains, moving toward a more drought-tolerant landscape and testing an aerator system in its casino-floor public restrooms that would restrict the volume of water coming out of the sink faucets.

Because the resort draws most of its guests from Southern California, property operations manager Brendan O’Kane believes much of its 15 percent water savings through April is owing to the high awareness of its patrons.

Still, hoteliers say they’re wary about being too preachy to their guests. It’s unlikely many properties will be willing to follow the lead of the Kalaloch Lodge in Olympic National Park in Washington, which offered a five-minute shower challenge to its guests as a water-conservation strategy.

Hotel owner Bob Rauch, whose company also manages a number of San Diego properties, believes more direct communication with guests can make a difference. Toward that end, the lead story in his June newsletter that is distributed at the front desk advises them of the “unprecedented drought conditions” facing California and asks them “to be aware of this during your stay here and do what you can to help.”

But just to make sure no offense is taken, he adds the following caveat:

“We also want to ensure that this is not something that impacts your stay in a negative way … so enjoy your time here with us and know that we are here to serve you.”



By Joe Ricci, President & CEO, TRSA

Of all the challenges facing hotel management teams, linen loss may sound minor. Yet wasted linen is a tangible problem that affects a hotel’s bottom line. Left unchecked, it can waste hotel resources and create crises that leave guests dissatisfied and staff frustrated. If controlled, it can generate savings, both of money and staff time.

When we talk about linen loss in hotels, we’re talking about the approximately 15 to 20 percent of linen products that are lost or discarded before the end of their useful life. That adds up. At approximately $250 per room for a four par of basic sheets and towels, linen purchases cost the hospitality industry $1.25 billion per year. If we factor in premium items like duvet covers, pillow shams and bath robes, that estimate goes up to $350 per room or $1.75 billion. That means the cost of replacing lost linen is between $50 and $70 per room, or between $2.5 million and $3.5 million industry-wide.

Despite their cost, convenient items like hand towels and washcloths are often thought of as disposable by guests and staff. Under these circumstances, linen loss may seem like an in-surmountable problem, but hotels can understand and measure sources of loss and take steps to better manage their linens.

Why Are Washcloths and Towels Disappearing?

According to Eric Brady of Brady Linens, a commercial laundry serving Las Vegas ho-tels, linen loss falls into two broad categories: explained loss and unexplained loss. Explained losses include stains, tears and wear out, while unexplained losses include theft.
As any hotel owner knows, misuse and theft of linens is common among guests. Guests often consider hotel towels to be disposable, and use them to remove makeup or shine shoes, or they take towels with them. What is not thrown away ends up stained and damaged. Guests, as a source of loss, are difficult to control, though locking linen closets helps halt habitual thieves.

There is also a great deal of abuse of linens among staff. Housekeeping staff use wash-cloths and other items to clean rooms, resulting in stains and chemical damage. Maintenance workers have also been known to grab a towel off a cart to wipe up grease or use sheets as painting drop clothes.

Textiles can also be prematurely worn out through improper handling. Laundry chutes can cause significant damage. Laundry chutes develop tears in their metal lining, which work as snags and abrasive surfaces for textiles. Plus, chutes can get backed up, with many floors worth of textiles piled on top of one another; the linens languishing at the bottom of a multistory pile up are subjected to enormous amounts of pressure that can damage textiles.

When laundry backs up, damp linens often end up piled on concrete floors when carts run out. Many people do not realize concrete contains oils that can permanently stain towels and sheets. Linen abuse can be combated through employee education, regular maintenance of chutes and clear rag programs.

Keeping Track of Linens

Of course, sheets and towels cannot last forever. They will all wear out. But through proper linen product measurement and tracking, you can plan appropriately for normal wear and tear and develop a better understanding of premature linen loss in your hotel. “When the linen inventory is managed directly, it creates savings across the operation of the hotel. When linen inventory is not managed correctly and there are shortages, it can create inefficiencies in the daily operations,” explains Pablo Lucchesi, managing partner of Crown Linen, serving ho-tels in the Miami area.

Whether you work with a laundry contractor or have an on-premise laundry (OPL), you should track:

  • Total pounds of clean laundry delivered or produced by the laundry
  • Percentage of work rewashed or rejected in the laundry process
  • “Ragout”-the percentage of product removed from service
  • Total replacement cost per pound of linen
  • Par levels, or how much textile you have available for circulation at any given point, based on 100 percent occupancy

Measurement helps you understand how quickly linens are wearing out, where loss is occurring and how you should budget for replacements. “You have to track the loss,” says Harry Kertenian, owner of Magic Laundry Services in Montebello, California. “If you lose 300 sheets a month, due to discard factor, you need to count and replenish-according to your budget-a minimum of that.”

In the future, radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags may be able to help hotels track the flow of linens in and out of rooms. These small chips, the same as those used to track the family dog, can be sewn into linens by the manufacturer. Used in conjunction with RFID scan-ners in laundry carts and linen closets, the chips can provide hotels with a real-time linen inven-tory and better tracking of linen transit, Lucchesi explains.

Hotels are adopting RFID cautiously, but we can expect more widespread use as the price of the chips declines and their ability to withstand repeated laundering improves. Com-mercial laundries specializing in hospitality have their eyes open to the opportunity, and many are equipped with RFID readers.

Keeping Linens Up to Par

By and large, one of the most important steps hotels can take in managing linen loss is maintaining par levels adequate to compete with the rate of loss. For many hotels with OPLs, three par is sufficient. For others, maintaining four par is necessary to keep enough linens on hand at all times.
Some hotels will deliberately or inadvertently let par levels slip down as low as two par. Yet reducing par levels only means you may have no sheets on hand when you most need them, forcing you to replace them hastily, perhaps with something off-brand. Since the linens you do have will need to be laundered more often, they will wear more quickly and need to be replaced more often.

“You’ve heard the slogan ‘you can pay me now or pay me later,’” says Stephen Florence, vice president of Starr Textile Services, which works with hotels in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. “It is the same with linen. If you do not replace it periodically-and I mean every month, adding replacement linen for the loss, abuse, misuse and staining-it’s like a dog chasing its tail. You never catch up.”

Better Linen Life Through Chemistry

New technology in washing equipment and new chemical formulations promise to re-duce premature wear and tear of linens. In the laundering process, bleach, mechanical agitation and excessive drying time can weaken fibers. After improving chemistry formulations and ma-chinery maintenance, one hospitality central laundry reported 20 percent savings in textile re-placement, thanks in part to better chemistry formulations and machinery.

“For linen longevity, wash chemistry is important,” says Brady. “For the longest time, [laundries have] only used detergent, bleach and softener. But there are new developments in the chemistry that are going to help us do a better job of removing stains and extending linen life.”

This is thanks in part to greener technology and chemistry. “Discard factors are down. We’re using more green-friendly detergent, completely brand-new equipment and better dryers that don’t overdry. The newer technology is a little less aggressive on the product. This leads to a 20 to 30 percent extension of linen life,” says Kertenian.

Textiles are also contributing to longer linen life. High thread-count Egyptian cotton has long been the standard for luxurious linens in hotels, but cotton does not make a particularly resilient textile. Every time it is washed, it sheds fibers from the yarn and turns more and more yellow. Thankfully, durable synthetics are losing their chintzy stigma. Textile manufacturers have developed cotton-polyester blends that look and feel like expensive fabrics, even to sea-soned hoteliers. Skeptical hotels should explore these fabrics before writing them off.

Laundry Outsourcing as a Source of Savings

Since many hotels can point to the laundry as a loss center, more and more of them are looking to laundry outsourcing to help them reduce complexity and costs associated with laun-dering and linen management. However, they often only think of the associated cost savings in terms of OPL operations. There are other savings that have to do with commercial laundries’ expertise and economies of scale.

Because laundry is their core business, well-managed commercial laundries are more adept at using chemicals properly. In fact, consistent measurement and monitoring of chemistry and quality is the norm among commercial laundries. Commercial laundries are also more likely than OPLs to have their equipment serviced regularly and less likely to experience un-checked snags and tears in fabrics. They have protocols for monitoring and repairing machines before they have a chance to damage linens.

By working with a commercial laundry, hotels also have the option of renting linens. This way, the up-front cost of purchasing linens does not come out of your pocket. Textile ser-vice providers have rental linens available in a variety of fabrics and levels of quality.
Whether you chose to outsource or improve processes at your OPL, you cannot manage laundry by crisis. “Because even if [hotels] don’t acknowledge it,” says Florence, “they are los-ing linens every day. And it wears out constantly.” The best strategy is to be proactive in linen management, consistently tracking, measuring and replacing all textiles.