Where have all the Dreamers gone?

Dreamers & Doers Series, final installment


The great thing about digital publishing is that we can update a story when we make a mistake or when new information comes in. That is the case this time. See the Update at the end of the article for an encouraging ending to our series.

Becca Anderson, Editor

In the month of February we featured stories of industry people who dreamed something and then made it happen. We challenged you to dream, too. An email went out to a good-sized group of cleaners asking what their dreams are for their businesses and what they’re doing to make them come true. The result? Not one response. None.

So my question is, where have the dreamers gone? Are people so busy fulfilling their dreams that they didn’t have time to reply? Or are they just trying to stay above water and gave up dreaming altogether? Interesting question.

The fact of the matter is that many people don’t even know how to dream bigger than what they are doing right now. The moment is all they can see. If you are stuck in a rut and can’t seem to get out, maybe you are one such non-dreamer. You’ve lost sight of the horizon.

Where to get a dream

Most of us find people who Dream and Do very challenging — hopefully, inspirational. If you’re new to the industry, you may not be aware of what is possible. If you are an old hand, perhaps you’ve “always done it this way” so long that anything else seems wrong. Take a deep breath and commit yourself to getting excited about where you’re going once more.

The Drycleaning & Laundry Institute is launching an all-new Hall of Fame to salute industry professionals who went from every-day work to dreaming and doing incredible things. Along the way they built their businesses, mentored others, committed themselves to nothing less than excellence, and left a trail for others to follow. Studying their examples may well spark that dreaming capacity in you once again.

DLI has primed the pump for its nominations (which will be open from April 1 – May 15, 2024) by first inducting its past Diamond Achievement Award recipients. They include:

  • Barney Deden, who started in Martinizing in Omaha, Nebraska with his wife Patty in the 1980s and went on to be instrumental in legislative advocacy for the industry.
  • Stan Golomb, who spent a lifetime in the industry, beginning in his father’s plant in Boston at 8 years of age and later becoming a revered industry consultant.
  • Chris Edwards, of A Cleaner World in North Carolina, combined quality work with serving the community through a variety of programs, and led the charge in developing a cleanup fund in his state.
  • Jeff Miller, of Miller’s Fine Drycleaning in Hendersonville, NC, is another who felt dry cleaning was just part of the recipe for success. He created the Honor Flight network to raise money and assist with money for war veterans when they desire to visit war memorials.
  • Sid Tuchman, who owned Tuchman Cleaners in Indianapolis, IN, moved from day-to-day cleaning operations to serving as a consultant in the industry, mentoring many others to success as a result.
  • Don Fawcett took over Dependable Cleaners in Massachusetts from his father. He, too, extended his hand to other cleaners by volunteering on various boards (including DLI’s) and helping teach others to succeed.
  • Walter “Buster” Bell, of the family business Bell Laundry & Cleaners in Spartanburg, SC, found his brilliant mind intrigued by the various new methods and technologies in our industry. He focused on what was possible before many knew it was.
  • Milt Chortkoff, along with his wife Edie, opened Milt & Edie’s Drycleaners when he was just 17 years old. He was a larger-than-life personality and that made his operation a real draw in Burbank, CA that continues today, over 70 years later. He showed that one could be a true professional and a warm human being at the same time.

Who has influence you?

The goal of the DLI Hall of Fame is twofold. First, to acknowledge the influence of fantastic people in our industry in a meaningful way. And second, to cause us all to think about who paved the way for us, and remind us what it’s like to dream again.

What names come to mind when you think of industry leaders? Even if you don’t know the individual personally, do some research. The Internet is a great place to spark dreams! Look into their background, put together a picture of what made them who they became, and then jump over to the nomination form on DLI’s website between April 1 and May 15 to put them forward.

DLI says there is a two-stage process of weeding down the nominees, but they expect to announce new Hall of Fame inductees by October. Once that happens, we will all have some real-life heroes to read about and be inspired by. Use their commitment to the industry and to personal excellence to light a fire under your dreams and make them blaze up again.


Nadine Rana, owner of Style & Grace Cleaners in Toronto, responded to our question about her dreams for her company, and we’re delighted to share her reply. She was actually attending the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists annual meeting in Dublin, Ohio, when the question reached her.

Nadine Rana

“My dream is to foster a fulfilling work culture and a recognizable brand in Canada that specializes in maintaining people’s personal style in clothing and ceremonial garments,” she said.

“To achieve the dream, we surround ourselves with various business coaches and industry affiliations who remind us to ‘fail forward fast’. They’ve helped us define our vision, develop core values and live by them each day.”

Definitely one to walk the talk, Nadine was spending a lot of her time at the conference inviting others to make the trip to Toronto this fall for the Canadian Fabricare Association convention. We think Nadine is one to watch.

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