Wade Cleaners is a third-generation business. As the third generation, is there any added pressure to grow the business and keep it healthy?
The business has been a part of our lives for so long that it is like an extended family. As the third generation, the pressure to grow and improve is a labor of love. I owe it to my family, employees and the community to ensure that we can continue to provide valuable services to our customers while providing a livelihood for employees and their families.
Will there be a fourth generation?
With three sons, I certainly hope that they will consider the opportunity to carry on the business another generation. Oldest son George, age 14,
has already shown some interest. He has enjoyed working in the business the last few summers. I tell all three of our sons, "I'm not sure what your last job will be, but I'm certain of your first."
Now that business dress is more casual, what impact has that had on the dry-cleaning business?
Like many businesses, we will evolve and grow with the times. We always look for additional ways to serve our customers, such as free home or office pickup and delivery, alterations and monogramming. Of course, we still do a lot of dry cleaning for those who wear traditional business attire, but we also clean casual wear as well. With the hurried lifestyles we all seem to live these days, we have found wash and fold laundry service becoming more popular. We also service many businesses from health care to hospitality with our sister company, Wade Linen Service. Since 2007, we have expanded our business to sell logo-branded promotional items through Wade Corporate Gifts.
Having grown up in Columbus, how do you think it has changed over the years?
We have changed the way we work, live and play. Our city is now looked upon more as a region, which is an attractive home for many large businesses, such as NCR, Aflac and TSYS, just to name a few. We have evolved into a more skilled and highly specialized place to work and are able to attract young professionals and skilled employees to live in the region. We are a very diverse community that has many choices for retail shopping, outstanding health care, advanced educational opportunities and varied religious institutions.
We have enhanced our parks, created the Chattahoochee RiverWalk, the Fall Line Trace, the Woodruff Farm Soccer Complex, South Commons Softball Complex and coming soon whitewater rafting on the Chattahoochee River. In addition, we have the arts with the RiverCenter, the naval museum, the Infantry Museum and the Schwob School of Music. These are just a few of the examples of the changes that come to mind that have enhanced our community.
What's the best-kept secret in Columbus?
The Greater Columbus Sports Council. The Sports Council was created after the 1996 Olympics. Since its inception, the council has continuously worked to promote sporting venues which foster economic stimulus for the community. Last year's events generated $18 million for the local economy, and this year they are on track to top that!