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Area business given Award of Excellence

High expectations from its customers have always motivated Holiday Cleaners to provide quality service.

Because of this motivation, the business was recently designated as one of the best in the nation.

Recently, the Demopolis business passed a rigorous set of cleaning evaluations to earn the 2006 Award of Excellence for Quality Garment Cleaning and Customer Service, one of only four in Alabama and 177 in the nation to do so.

Holiday Cleaners owner Jason Windham was a great honor and a wonderful way for customers to know they are getting the best service possible.

“I know it’s very tough for a consumer to know who is a good cleaner, much less find one,” Windham said. “Having met the Award of excellence requirements, the AOE seal gives for the first time an independent verification of our commitment to quality customer service.”

Winning the award, Windham said, gave customers confidence in his stores ability to provide fast, quality service.

“It’s very easy to differentiate yourself as a dry cleaner by price and speed,” Windham said. “But, it takes a great deal of knowledge and expertise to differentiate yourself by achieving the Award of Excellence.”

By winning the award, Holiday Cleaners earned praise from Bill Fisher, a 40-year veteran of dry cleaning and Clothing Care Council spokesperson.

“Finding a good cleaner that will consistently treat you like a valued customer shouldn’t be a guessing game,” Fisher said. “Having become an Award of Excellence cleaner, Holiday Cleaners is proof that quality cleaners do exist and now, the customers know where to look.”

Earning this distinction has been a long process for Windham. It began, he said, in July of 2003 when he first took over the business and attended three weeks of training to learn advanced dry cleaning.

During this time, Windham said, he learned far more than just the basics.

“They teach you everything you need to know about fibers and fabrics,” Windham said. “There is more to it than just reading a care label, they teach you how clothes are made and what things to look for that can get damaged in certain types of cleaning procedures.”

The idea for the award came from a report by the “Today Show” about dry cleaning services in New York City who were not qualified. Because of this, the Award of Excellence was established to recognize those who went above and beyond to provide customers and the community with the service they deserve.

The award works on a point system in a variety of areas. To earn the honor the first time, Holiday Cleaners needed a total of 30 points, which they easily earned.

One aspect of the award was community service. Each year, Holiday Cleaners participates in programs such as Coats for Kids, Relay for Life and a Thanksgiving canned drive.

Once the points are in, businesses must also pass a spotting test. For this segment, a towel with six pieces of fabric is sent and run through cleaning machines. This test, Windham said, determines how the machines treat delicate fabrics.

“They test it for quality based on whether or not it gray’s clothes up, yellowing and soil removal,” Windham said. “It tells how efficient your machines are.”

Holiday Cleaners rated in the top 25 percent in every category.

In the second test, a 12 inch by 12 inch silk swatch is sent with six stains. The cleaners have to remove five of the six stains and mail it back for approval by the laboratory.

Damage or discoloration is an automatic disqualification. Holiday was able to pass its test on the first try.

The tests, Windham said, are vital because it proves cleaning services are not just going through the motions.

“To pass this test, you have to have a good feel for what it going on,” Windham said. “You can’t just thrown something in a machine and hope it comes out right.”