Salesianer: Reinventing the field of industrial textile laundries  

Interview with Adrian Chiorean, Managing Director Salesianer

Salesianer: Reinventing the field of industrial textile laundries

Adrian Chiorean, aged 40, graduated Marketing within the Academy of Economic Studies from Bucharest, and the Master Program of the International Economic Relations Faculty. Employee of the Salesianer Miettex company since 2007, he held chronologically the position of Business Developer in hotels and medical sector, after which between 2012-2014 he dealt with the development of the company at national level, managing the Sales Department. Since January 2015 he has been holding the position of Company Administrator.

How did the textile commercial laundries market adapt to the new context generated by 2020?

2020 was a very challenging year for all the players in the industrial laundries sector. A large part of their activity has been sustained by the hotel industry, which registered a dramatic shrinkage of their average occupancy degree, from 70% in 2019, to less than 20% in 2020, drawing implicitly an important decrease of the volumes of the laundered textiles.

Thus, laundries were forced to reorganize on the fly their working flow and personnel scheme, to keep their efficiency, and in certain cases, some of them even discontinued their activity.

Our company’s business model is based on 3 sturdy pillars (medical, industrial and hotels) and we have already foreseen since last spring that the hospitability sector would be the most affected. Thus, we found new opportunities to make up for this setback and we focussed on developing partnerships with companies operating in the food and medical sector, where we developed niche products and services.

Some of the most important competitive advantages of our company are the high standards, and the hygiene and disinfection guarantee of the laundered items. External certifications have been carried out for many years with independent institutes from Germany and Austria for all our 30 group’s laundries across Europe, thus ensuring a consistent level of quality in all 9 European countries where we operate. Our efforts have been repaid during the pandemic by signing new contracts with manufacturers from the food industry, as well as clinics and hospitals, in the medical sector. They have granted special care to hygiene, seeking reliable and regular suppliers that could guarantee the traceability of uniforms’ laundering and disinfection, compliance with the legislation and fulfilment of specific standards requirements.

Which are the most important sectors sustaining your core activity during this period and on which can you still count in the future, when it comes to development?

Decrease in volumes generated by the hotel sector and the slight increase of working uniforms sector determined a strong mobilisation of our resources in order to innovate and find new growth possibilities.

The best example is the Sterile Services for Operating Rooms in private hospitals and clinics - a niche service where our company is the leader on Central South-Eastern Europe market. This supposes equipping the operating blocks with reusable sterile textile sets, according to their specificity. The adequate number and type of items according to the surgery to be carried out are 100% customised according to the client’s needs and the surgeons’ and specialised personnel’s preferences (orthopedics, gynecology, etc.).

It is an especially high-tech environmentally friendly service, studies showing that the carbon dioxide footprint is more than two times less than in the case of disposable items. Moreover, plastic wastes, resulting from the use of disposable items, imported from the far east and whose availability was uncertain during the critical pandemic months, are avoided.

In this way, also purchase costs optimizations are carried out, because, by purchasing disposable sets, the property of „sterile item” is lost, once the set is opened and not all items are used. Currently, there are few variants of customised sterile sets on the market, and many of the items that remained unused during surgeries are wasted.

Concurrently with the medical field, we focus on the industrial sector, by offering a complete management service, including laundering and maintaining the working uniforms for the personnel.

The concerned industrial branches are: food, microelectronics, pharma and last but not least manufacturers that need specific protection uniforms for their employees, such as metal foundries and smelters.

What are the measures you implemented to safely service the existing clients and hospitals/Covid-19 support centres?

The 3 laundries that Salesianer owns in Romania (Bucharest, Oradea and Brașov), as well as the rest of the laundries in the group, are designed to follow the law and norms dedicated to medical units. Consequently, the laundry flow has been, even from the beginning, safe and controlled from the point of view of the hygiene and guaranteeing the textiles’ disinfection.

The „unclean area” (textiles’ reception) is separated from the „clean area” (textiles’ shipment) by a wall, all washing machines being equipped with a septic barrier and all washing programs include disinfection with active oxygen. The settings and the machines are controlled electronically, ensuring and always guaranteeing the disinfection of textile items.

The measures we adopted target mostly the protection of our own employees, even though this lead to a sensible decrease of our productivity.

We implemented staggered hours, physical distancing of the production personnel at the workplace by separating the working flows and reorganizing lunch breaks on departments, and we provide private transport to our employees. In this way, we limited the interaction of the employees only to the colleagues from the same department.

Being constantly oriented to take care of our personnel and to constantly invest in their selection, loyalty and motivation, we were happy to see their flexibility and the cohesion of the teams during peak crisis moments.

All these measures have paid off and we could continue our activity without discontinuation, managing to service, besides the already existing contracts, new requests came from the market.

It was a real pride and joy to have received thank you letters from our partners (National Institute of Infectious Diseases „Prof.Dr.Matei Balș”, Municipal Clinic Hospital „Dr.Gavril Curteanu” from Oradea, Clinic Hospital for Infectious Diseases from Cluj Napoca, Emergency County Hospital Alexandria) expressing their gratitude, appreciation and trust towards Salesianer team and services.

From the moment it entered the market, in 2007, Salesianer Group has been constantly investing in development and sustainability, seeking at the same time ways to become an environmentally friendly company. What are your future development priorities from this point of view?

Current development plans target investments in environmental protection and alternative energy projects, IT and management system and last but not the least, automatizations and re-technologization of the laundering flows.

We invest constantly in innovation projects and in this way we wish to be pioneers in the circular economy in our activity sectors. A large part of the beddings we supply is produced, more recently from bio Fairtrade cotton and polyester recycled from PET bottles. It is our commitment towards the people and nature. Fairtrade bio cotton is cultivated by small farmers on their own environmentally friendly plantations, in India, without using genetically modified seeds and dangerous pesticides. The growth of the plant is determined by the monsoon climate and natural rainfalls. Thus, it is not necessary to artificially irrigate the organic cotton plants, saving important water resources in the region.

Because of Fairtrade certification, many Indian farmers and their families are offered a chance at a better life. On one hand, the trade using a fixed fair price ensures a constant and predictable income, and on the other hand it leads to an improvement of the quality of life and locals’ working method.

Following the trip to India, the company management had the opportunity to obtain directly the information on the cooperation method between cotton cooperatives and the farmers who adopted bio-agriculture. The simple way of life and optimism encountered are in deep contrast with the poor conditions of the existing educational system and the inadequate condition of most of the schools. For the school Seva Ashram from the Madingpadar region, where bio farmers kids learn, Salesianer decided to grant long-term support. As a first step, the desks and chairs have been replaced, as well as the sanitation of the school’s drinking water system.

Closely related to environment protection and sustainability, we would like to recall the projects concluded in 2020, such as: use of drain-water heat recovery systems, equipping the installations with specific sensors to optimise gas consumption, or preheating certain areas of the head office and warehouse by recovering the heat produced by ironing machineries. By implementing these projects, we achieved a reduction by 15% of the power consumption and a decrease by 9% of the fuel consumption, leading to a decrease in CO2 emissions by 12%.

However, we are not going to stop here!

In 2021, we intend to continue to be the pioneers in our line of work, with projects in the field of alternative energy. We have drafted in this sense a project to produce power by using photovoltaic panels, for two of the three Salesianer laundries in Romania.

With the completion of these plans, we target to make even more efficient the power consumption and to take another step towards our goal to protect the environment.

 

 

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