Today Cleaners GreenEarth Affiliate Since 2001
Serving Bakersfield, California, for over 70 years!
Today Cleaners is a local family-owned business located in Bakersfield, CA, USA. They currently have eight package plants and focus on providing their customers with the best possible dry cleaning and laundry service. The owner, Jeff Newman Jr., has kindly shared his story.
“We are the largest cleaner in our market and differentiate ourselves from the competition in three major ways: Same Day Service, “In By 11, Ready at 4”, On-Premise plants; NO Trucking of garments to remote locations for processing, and our GreenEarth Cleaning System. Our company is currently led by Jeff Newman Jr., the 3rd generation owner. Jeff’s son, Matthew, is currently in Operational Management and represents the 4th generation of the Newman Family to be in the dry cleaning and laundry business.
Our company has been in existence for over 70 years and has a rich history. In 1949, Richard K. “Stubby” Newman started Sparkle Cleaners in Bakersfield after operating Sanitex Cleaners in Taft, CA, for several years prior. We were a central plant and home delivery route business at that time. Over the next several years, as Bakersfield grew, many dry stores were added. In 1967, Jeff Newman Sr., Stubby’s oldest son, joined the business.
In the ’70s, Jeff Sr. expanded into the Uniform, Linen & Dust service businesses when polyester, permanent press garments put many cleaners out of business. Over time, the home delivery route business gave way to as many as 18 dry stores in the 80s. In 1990, Jeff Newman, Jr. joined the company, and after running the company for several years, he became President in 1999. In 2019, Matthew Newman joined the company. At 54, Jeff Newman, Jr. plans to lead Today Cleaners and Sparkle Uniform & Linen Service for many years. He enjoys mentoring his son to move into Executive Management eventually.
In 1986, the first Today Cleaners “package plant” was opened. We offer same-day service, In By 11, Ready at 4, Monday thru Satur day. For many years, we were open seven days a week but decided a few years ago to close on Sundays to save labor costs and provide a better quality of life for our Team Members. Over the next several years, we built many more Today Cleaners plants and systematically closed the Sparkle Cleaners dry stores to focus 100% on growing Sparkle Uniform & Linen Service business in our main plant production facility. The last Sparkle Cleaners was closed in 2001, and today our original Sparkle location that started in 1949 is the home of Sparkle Uniform & Linen Service and our Corporate Offices.
Over the years, we have seen many changes in the industry. One of the most notable ones was the phase-out of Perchloroethylene dry cleaning solvent. In 2001, we were an early adopter of GreenEarth, and have been completely converted to GreenEarth solvent since 2003. Later, we were one of the first to adopt powder filtration and eliminate the use of cartridge filters. We are always considering technological improvements to improve efficiency and keep prices as low as possible for our customers. We have recently replaced all of our dry cleaning machines, pant units, and shirt units to utilize the most advanced cleaning and finishing technology available today.
The most challenging thing we have ever had to deal with as a company is the Covid Pandemic. From the beginning, our philosophy was that we would get through Covid together with our customers, staff, and vendors intact. Our sales initially dropped over 70% within just a couple of weeks. Our sister company, Sparkle Uniform & Linen Service, was not quite as
crippled, which gave us options that some dry cleaners didn’t have. We decided not to alter our hours, change our service promise, or lay anybody off, something I will always be proud of. We utilized all the government assistance we could in a very conservative fashion and coached our staff with reduced hours to get on unemployment to protect them financially. We kept everybody working and took care of our customers but didn’t hire anybody for many months until business turned around. We continued to operate all of our facilities and got as lean and mean as possible. While business is coming back strongly now, our shirt volume is still way down due to less office activity in general. We have not yet regained our physical volume from 2019, but we are in a strong financial position and looking forward to a prosperous 2022. Our dedicated staff has done a tremendous job over these past two years, navigating a very difficult situation.
Today Cleaners was fortunate not to be overbuilt in our market, which allowed us to survive Covid and adjust our costs to the new normal. The general downtrend in pieces within our industry led to some consolidation of older locations before Covid. After a peak of 11 locations in 2005, we now have just 8 locations currently. Bakersfield is growing rapidly, with many new homes being built, so in the coming years, we are looking to add a couple more locations. We are not currently in the pickup and delivery business, but we will also consider that line extension in the future. We are excited about the industry’s future and plan on being in the business for many years to come.”Jeff Newman Jr, Owner
Article courtesy Barry Gershenson of California Cleaners Association’s Clean Facts Newsletter