The Mechanics of Dreaming and Doing

Kevin Marois

Some people dream and plan and make things happen. Others dream and whine and grumble, and then do nothing. If you want things to be different, you have to start with a dream and follow it with some elbow grease.

Dream (recognize the problem)

Do you ever dream about a new dry cleaning machine? (Or a boiler, shirt press, etc.) That’s wonderful! I hope you get it one day. Dreaming is the first step. You’ve recognized that there is a problem and you’re looking for solutions.

Keep on dreaming, but start to add some details. Then you will be a doer and not just a dreamer.

We have a customer with one wash cycle on her washer. She is happy with that and has no intentions of improving things. Everything is washed on the same cycle. I can’t help her.

Live bigger than that. Dream about what would make your life easier. Dream about how you could help your people to work faster, easier, better.

Narrow down the options

There are many choices for equipment today. How are you going to pick what is best for you?

Look at features – what does it do? What is your mix of garments? Who will service it for you?

Will it fit in the space you have? What utilities does it need?

Visit plants that are using that machine to see how well it performs. You aren’t ready to buy yet, but you are narrowing down your choices. When you need to make a decision, you will already know what you want.

Make a schedule

Many customers think their machines will run forever. They don’t have a realistic view of how bad things are. Sure, we can often keep your old machine running. But at what cost? And what features are you missing out on?

Make a plan and include dates. That plan is not to force you to buy the machine on a certain date. It is just to help you figure out the things that need to be done in order to replace that machine. If the machine is still working fine, then extend the dates.

Figure out things like: utilities, finances, staff training and supplies for the new machine. Put that info together and make notes of anything that needs to be ordered significantly ahead of the machine. This plan will help you be ready when the time comes.

We have seen many times where a machine dies and the customer needs something today. He is forced to buy whatever is available right now.

One of our customers had a boiler that failed the inspection. It had to be replaced immediately. He said he couldn’t wait. So he bought a 30-year-old boiler that I had no intention of selling. We were storing it for a customer and it was all that was available. If that customer had made a realistic plan he would have bought the boiler he wanted and done the work on his schedule – not on an emergency basis.


That’s a nice machine, but where are you going to put it? Most plants are stuffed. There is no room to spare. It’s often a question of what can you remove in order to install this new machine. This might be your chance to juggle a few things around to improve your workflow.

Are there any other machines you might want to move? Employees’ steps cost money. The more convenient you can make things for your people, the better it is for them and you.

Do some measuring. Allow for staff movement and work flow. Plus leave some room for the maintenance guy. I might get fatter in my old age!

How will you pay for it?

This is where it gets tricky. You might need some extra time to work on this part of your dream.

The obvious and easiest answer is just to finance the machine. Leasing companies are easy to work with and approvals come quickly. If you are going to deal with a bank, you better plan on several months and lots of paper work. Either way, get the finances in place ahead of time to make sure there are no delays.

The better choice of course would be for you to put some money aside every month toward new equipment so that you have funds on hand when you need them. That is a lot harder to do. Either you are paying the finance company or you are paying yourself. Do it in advance and save the interest.

Work your plan

We have some customers who are just talkers and not doers. They complain about the problems with their equipment. They kind of dream about new machines, but they never see their dreams blossom into reality. They aren’t willing to put in the work. They won’t take the risks to make things happen. They are afraid they don’t have enough work/money/time to bother making a change. So they just continue to dream (read: whine).

I can’t dream for you and I can’t make it happen on my own. You have to have the vision and the commitment to improve things. Dreaming might sound like a gentle occupation, but real dreams quickly take on important planning steps.

Dreams are infectious. Dream big dreams and share them. Your staff will want to be a part of your plan. Dreams are exciting. Get your people involved and working with you. Make it a team effort and then make them responsible for taking care of that new piece of equipment. You will be surprised with the results.

By the way, if you dreaming about a new machine, call me. We specialize in making dreams into reality.

Kevin and Paula Marois founded Calgary-based Integrity Mechanical in 2003 to service plants in western Canada. He writes on issues related to equipment, its purchase, maintenance and use. You can reach Kevin at or via his website

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