JIM WASSERSON, 55, of Washington Crossing, Bucks County, is CEO and president of Clean Rental, on American Street near Cayuga in Feltonville. Founded by Wasserson's grandfather in 1918, it originally supplied coveralls to factory workers. Today it's a leading independent uniform- rental company, with more than 100,000 of its uniforms worn daily.
Q: What's the biz do?
A: We clean and rent uniforms for almost every industry. Our trucks pick up and deliver once a week. We deliver clean uniforms and bring back soiled uniforms and clean them.
Q: What kind?
A: The industry is typically blue shirt, blue pants. We'll rent anything from a scrub suit to a tuxedo if it makes economic sense. God forbid we give the customer what they want.
Q: Who are your customers?
A: The city of Philadelphia, Merck, GlaxoSmithKline and Tastykake are some.
Q: And competitors?
A: Cintas, Aramark, UniFirst and G&K Services.
Q: What sets you apart?
A: Our product line is larger, more diverse. Clients might want a fire-retardant [jacket] and reflective [pants]. That type of request often throws our industry into a tizzy. Also, we're a privately held company, and our competitors are public companies that have to meet next quarter's numbers for Wall Street. Clients who do due diligence are generally ones we get because they can see beyond the surface that we offer customized solutions.
Q: A typical customer?
A: Somebody who has 50 to 100 employees in work clothing. That would include pharmaceutical, industrial, medical, consumer and utility. We mostly serve a 200-mile radius from Philadelphia and partner in deals nationally and in Canada.
Q: How many customers do you have?
A: About 10,000.
Q: How big a biz is this?
A: We have about 100 employees and more than $15 million in annual revenue.
Q: You're also a HUBZone biz. What's that?
A: It's a [Small Business Administration] program. If you employ at least 35 percent of your workforce from within an [economically distressed] zone where your business is, you can access more federal contracting bids. What's attractive is the government has a goal of [awarding 3 percent of all dollars for federal prime contracts to HUBZone-certified small businesses].
Q: What's been the biggest challenge for your biz?
A: Our customers are savvy Fortune 500 companies who are tough buyers. We're playing in deep blue ocean with sharp, dogged competitors. We must be agile and bring something to the table that nobody else can.
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