It might not be the Daily Planet, but check out our newsworthy mentions from various Mercer County media outlets….
2009 Progress Profile: Captain Dry Clean
US1–Princeton’s Business and Entertainment Newspaper– January 28, 2009
When Mike Waintraub set out to clean up dry cleaning’s act, he also set out to expand his influence. In October Waintraub opened the first of what he hoped would be many Captain Dry Clean locations (U.S. 1, October 22, 2008). Four months later he has entered talks with a Trenton-based entrepreneur looking to help him rewrite an industry that has earned a deserved reputation for being environmentally unsound.
Captain Dry Clean is a “green” dry cleaning shop in Ewing, meaning that unlike traditional dry cleaners it does not use the supremely toxic perc to wash fabrics. Perc is the reason behind the smell most people associate with dry cleaning and is so dangerous that it has been linked directly to exposure deaths among dry cleaners and their customers. It was banned in California and will be phased out there entirely by 2023. It has been targeted for a similar phase-out in New Jersey.
Waintraub, who began his business as a mobile laundry pick-up service — gathering customers’ laundry and dropping it off at traditional laundries and dry cleaners — learned of an organic, biodegradable solvent called GEN-X. Manufactured by Wayne-based Caled Chemicals, GEN-X is dry cleaning’s answer to its own toxic legacy. Waintraub embraced the solvent and its proprietary machines, which at about $90,000 apiece are double the price of a standard dry cleaning machine.
Waintraub says he opened Captain Dry Clean to almost immediate customer acclaim, the most obvious accolade being that clothes from his shop (or “plant”) had no odor. A dispute over the display of his sign, he says, kept him from being able to hang it until recently. But now new customers have been filing in almost daily.
With business increasing, Waintraub has been encouraged to franchise the Captain Dry Clean name. Earlier this month he began talks with a potential franchisee who wants to open a “drop site” for the business in the converted Broad Street Bank building in Trenton. A drop site means that there will be no cleaning going on there — clothes will be picked up and brought back to Ewing.
Waintraub also will keep looking for new locations for drop sites. He has his eye on what used to be the Santa Marie cleaners in Hamilton, possibly as a fully operational site itself.
While green dry cleaning is still relatively new, Waintraub enjoys being at its forefront. He warns, however, that there are some dry cleaners claiming to be green, but are not. These cleaners, he says, do not use perc, which is good, but often use a petroleum-based solvent that is not much better.
Captain Dry Clean, 37 Scotch Road, Suburban Square, Ewing 08628; 609-771-8600. Michael Waintraub, owner. www.captaindryclean.com.
Captain Dry Clean’s Ecological Approach
US1–Princeton’s Business and Entertainment Newspaper– October 2, 2008
Captain Dry Clean Offers Heroic Laundry Services
Captain Dry Clean rescues clothes from toxic chemicals
Captain Dry Clean, a “green” dry cleaner in the Suburban Square shopping center, has the answer. From Monday through Friday they will pick up your clothes at your home or place of business, clean them, and then drop them back off a day or two later. All this for no extra charge than if you dropped off your dry cleaning at their shop.
And your clothes won’t have that funky chemical smell that you get from most dry cleaners. That’s because Captain Dry Clean uses a process unlike traditional dry cleaners, which use perchloroethylene, the most popular chemical in the industry, and one known by its more common abbreviation, “perc.”
Not only does it smell bad, perc is so poisonous that the state has declared it a toxic chemical that will be illegal as of 2021. If overused or not properly disposed of, it can contribute to smog, poison the water supply, and leech into soils.
Breathing the vapors of perc indoors with lots of ventilation can still make you sick, and getting too close to it for even a few hours has been directly linked to deaths among homeless people who have their sleeping bags dry cleaned and never wake up after a night of breathing in the vapors.
Mike Waintraub, who opened Captain Dry Clean five years ago, was one of the first dry cleaners in the area to do something about eliminating the toxin from the everyday lives of anyone who wears business suits or dry-clean-only sports wear.
Waintraub, who began his business as a mobile laundry pick-up service — gathering customers’ laundry and dropping it off at traditional laundries and dry cleaners — learned of an organic, biodegradable solvent called GEN-X.
Manufactured by Wayne-based Caled Chemicals, GEN-X is dry cleaning’s answer to its own toxic legacy. Waintraub embraced the solvent and its proprietary machines, which at about $90,000 each are double the price of a standard dry cleaning machine.
Waintraub’s mentors and former business partners, whom he did not name, encouraged his eco-friendly enterprise, saying that they wished they could go organic, but they were still paying off their perc machine and couldn’t afford to switch.
“We’ve had double digit growth each year for the past five years,” said Waintraub. “The residents of Ewing and the surrounding area have really embraced us. People like our organic dry cleaning and our customer service”
Captain Dry Clean’s pick up and delivery service covers all of Mercer County and goes to Bucks County, Pa., as well. Waintraub said they are the dry cleaner for about 10 hotels in Mercer County and they also service many corporate offices, and the employees who work in businesses such as law firms, accounting firms, and insurance agencies.
“I wanted to have a name that would be good for a franchise, and be franchisable,” he said. “Something fun and catchy and have a logo that people would remember and catch peoples’ eye. We threw around a number of ideas and finally settled on the Captain. It’s a fun brand that people like. In fact, a lot of our customers call me or our drivers the Captain when we deliver to them.”
“We’re thinking about trying to expand it more, things like having different stains as villains,” Waintraub said. Also under consideration is a comic book and Youtube videos featuring a live-action Captain Dry Clean.
“I see Ewing as a town that has a lot of great people that live and work here,” he said. “Ewing has a lot of potential. I’m really excited about the plans for the town center and the airport is going like gangbusters now. I think the town’s really headed in the right direction.