ALEXANDRIA, Va. — April 3, 2020 — For the fifth time in two weeks, TRSA hosted another well-attended COVID-19-specific webinar which provided the industry with additional support to move through the daily impact of the pandemic. The 90-minute, April 2 webinar, which drew more than 300 participants, opened with a state of the industry update from TRSA President and CEO Joseph Ricci. It’s no secret that all laundry sectors and vendors supplying those markets have been hit hard by a dramatic downturn that was inconceivable at the beginning of the year when the industry entered a new decade on the promise of a strong first quarter of 2020. The U.S. GDP was strong at 2.3% and unemployment was at an all-time low of 3.5% with nearly 100 percent of uniform and linen services companies indicating they would meet/exceed 2020 growth forecasts (Baird Quarterly Textiles Services Survey).
As of April 2, unemployment claims have reached 6.5 million, and the sobering reality for the linen, uniform and facility services industry now points to staggering losses of nearly $10 billion in revenue and as many as 50,000 layoffs in plants across the U.S. during the second quarter alone. Ricci discussed TRSA’S tactical and strategic responses to the crisis to help members continue to operate now and begin recovery in the new, post-COVID business environment. Ricci highlighted the industry’s ability to work together, especially during a crisis. “Our laundry operators and suppliers are truly partnering to confront this crisis,” said Ricci, “We’ve heard dozens of stories about how suppliers are locating and delivery hard-to-get gowns and linens, as well as working with laundries to delay orders and installations. It is wonderful to see this cooperative approach to industrywide survival and recovery.”
A bright point in this crisis is the industry’s longstanding support of reusable, sustainable products and emphasis on hygiene, particularly Hygienically Clean certifications for Healthcare and Food Safety. “it has become evident that reusables, such as surgical and isolation gowns,” said Ricci, “Offer a more sustainable solution and would have minimized shortages of critical PPE for medical personnel.” In addition, many on-premise laundries (OPLs), operating largely out of tradition — as opposed to any strategic plan — may now realize the value in outsourcing to a local laundry service provider. Ricci reminded attendees to bookmark and review the growing resources specific to the response and recovery to the pandemic that are available at www.trsa.org/COVID-19.
Jason Risley, TRSA’s senior editor, digital and new media, reported on the business pulse survey that closed on March 27. Overall, survey respondents have increased employee hygiene protocols and have ramped up communications with both employees and customers. The responses also highlighted the impact on every market sector and the wide-range of cost-saving measures implemented such as temporary plant closures, route consolidation and layoffs. Companies with more diverse customer mixes have fared the best, while laundries serving F&B and Hospitality customers have taken the hardest hits. Even acute and non-acute healthcare is seeing 20-to-40 percent drops in volume based on the closure of medical facilities, cancelling of elected surgeries, early discharges and 48-hour linen changes instead of typical daily turns at hospitals. TRSA will continue to share results of the bi-monthly Business Pulse benchmarking surveys, including revenue and supply chain status and forecasts, in TRSA’s Textile Service Weekly every two weeks going forward to provide a snapshot of economic health of the industry by market sector.
Market sector summaries from the late March webinars were shared by Mark Lewis, corporate sales manager, Dempsey Uniform & Linen Supply (F&B), Randy Bartsch, chairman and chief executive, Ecotex Healthcare Linen Service (Healthcare), Harry Kertenian, owner and CFO, Magic Laundry Service Inc. (Hospitality), and Israel Cartagena, service team leader, the Roscoe Co. (Industrial/Uniform). Each sector’s representative recapped the lively and forward-thinking exchanges that made up the takeaways from each group’s discussion. These webinars are available free to TRSA members in the COVID-19 Resources tab in the On-Demand Learning System, www.trsa.org/ondemand.
Kevin Schwalb, TRSA’s vice president of government relations and certification, offered a quick overview of recent successful efforts to get “laundry services” listed as an Essential Service in every state as well as having it added to the Department of Homeland Security’s list of Essential Critical Infrastructure.
Sarah Mercer and Andrew Elliott of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, completed the final phase of the webinar, with an overview of opportunities for small businesses (“under 500 employees”) found in the pages of The CARES Act of 2020. The goal of the CARES Act is one of financial assistance: helping workers either retain their jobs or receive prompt, temporary assistance until the pandemic recedes. The presenters scrolled through an impressive set of detailed slides outlining the scope of the act to specifically discuss two components of greatest interest to TRSA members: the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a part of the CARES Act that on April 3 began accepting applications for small businesses; and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Grants (EIDL). Their slides providing a complete overview of the CARES Act are available through the webinar resources at www.trsa.org/ODL. Presenters also fielded a number of questions, signifying the value of the presenter’s time in dissection of the Act.
“I really appreciate the presenters who provided their time and expertise,” said Ricci. “TRSA is gratified at the turnout for these webinars and we look forward to providing more resources in the coming weeks.”
TRSA will continue its response by providing a variety of tools to assist its members. In the next series of webinars, TRSA will provide human resources support and delve into the issues of insurance questions and claims, in addition to offering an update on healthcare laundries. The upcoming Webinars highlighted below are free to TRSA members, $195 for non-members. They include:
- Reduce Anxiety by Addressing Workplace Needs and Building Meaningful Connection – Monday, April 6, 2020, 2-3 p.m. EDT
- FMLA Update and Employee Communications: Keeping Team Members Connected and Thriving – Wednesday, April 8, 2020, 2-3 p.m. EDT
- Navigating Insurance and Claims During the COVID-19 Pandemic – Thursday, April 9, 2020, 2-3 p.m. EDT
- Healthcare Laundries: Lessons Learned from COVID-19 Epicenters – Friday, April 10, 2020 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. EDT
Finally, TRSA is focused clearly on developing industry recovery strategies by launching Market Sector Business Recovery Task Forces for all market sectors. These groups will strategically examine the potential, long-term impact of the pandemic on each sector and what opportunities are available to the linen, uniform and facility services industry in the new, post-COVID business environment. Please contact Ken Koepper at email@example.com for details and to participate in TRSA’s Market Sector Business Recovery Task Forces. For more information and guidance related to COVID-19 response, visit TRSA’s COVID-19 Resource Center at http://www.trsa.org/covid19.
Posted April 3, 2020