Monthly Archives: June 2015

New dry cleaning technology gains on eco-friendly promise

Proctor &Gamble, an iconic brand in household cleaning product, is out to change the dry cleaning industry with its Tide branded dry cleaners.

It’s the most locally visible of several new approaches to changing the way dry cleaning is done.

Obviously the Tide shops can’t use standard Tide detergent for dry cleaning. But they can leverage the Tide brand to stake out a new niche in this competitive market — a more environmentally safe dry cleaning process.

And, if you use the Tide Cleaners’ laundry service, your clothes will be washed with Tide and Downy.

The process

Despite its label, dry cleaning is not totally dry. It involves the use of liquid chemicals called solvents that remove most stains from a variety of fabrics. The process of dry cleaning came about quite by accident. In 1855, Jean-Baptiste Jolly noticed that his tablecloth was cleaner after his maid accidentally spilled kerosene on the table. As the dry cleaning process began to spread, early proprietors used kerosene or even gasoline to wash clothes. However, the use was dangerous and led to many fires and explosions.

After World War I, cleaners started to experiment with various chlorinated solvents that were much less flammable and, as it turned out, had much greater cleaning power. By the mid-1930s, the dry cleaning industry had adopted a chemical known as perchloroethylene (commonly known as perc) as its standard.

Dry cleaners usually treat spots by hand before placing garments in large machines filled with a liquid solution that is mostly perc and very little water, if any. The garments are either dried in the same machine or placed into a separate dryer, then pressed and sent out the door in those nifty plastic bags.

The EPA has determined that perc is a “likely human carcinogen” but does not believe that wearing clothes cleaned with perc pose a risk of concern. However, over a sustained period, exposure to perc can cause adverse non-cancer effects on the human nervous system. Long-term exposure can also pose a potential human health hazard to reproduction and development, and to the kidney, liver, immune and hematologic systems. People exposed to high levels of perc, even for brief periods, may experience symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, headaches, confusion, nausea, and skin, lung, eye, and mucous membrane irritation. If your dry cleaned clothes are left in the plastic bags to hang in the closet, the perc chemical is never given a chance to evaporate which may intensify the effects the first time that the garment is worn.

Cleaning up a mess

Across the country, perc is regulated as a hazardous material. During the recent Nevada legislative session, SB89 was passed adding perc to the list of chemicals that can receive money from the Nevada Petroleum Fund to remediate hazardous spills. In total, there are 24 dry cleaner spills in Clark County that will be cleaned up with fund allocations.

One such action involves cleaning up groundwater contaminated by chemicals from a dry cleaning business that used to operate at the Maryland Square Shopping Center. The spill has migrated across Maryland Parkway, under the Boulevard Mall and is encroaching on the houses behind the mall. Tens of thousands of dollars have been spent on this spill over the past 20 years. With money from the Petroleum Fund, plans are now being made to speed up the process and initiate measures to stop the spill before it reaches the homes.

In 2007, California passed a law that shut down older dry clean machines by 2010 and requires all perc machines to be taken out of service by 2023. Other states across the country are looking to introduce similar legislation.

Seeing the growing backlash against perc, ExxonMobil introduced a more environmentally friendly dry cleaning product called DF-2000. The product is a synthetic hydrocarbon fluid, the use of which has grown throughout the U.S. In Las Vegas, there are a number of dry cleaning operations including Boston Cleaners, AllStar Dry Cleaners, Green Cleaners and Alteration Center, and Green World Cleaners using this product in Las Vegas. Although this product is still a hydrocarbon product with a slight odor and high flash point, it is much less toxic than perc and promoted as a “greener” alternative.

Unlike California, Nevada officials are not putting pressure on dry cleaners to stop using perc. However, new dry cleaning competitors are hoping that consumers vote with their wallets by embracing the more environmentally friendly shops.

Tide Cleaners, along with several other “eco” branded dry cleaning operations in Las Vegas, are using a patented system developed by Green-Earth Cleaning in Kansas City. The system uses liquid silicone known as D5 in place of petrochemicals. D5 is essentially liquefied sand silicone that is non-hazardous and non-toxic when released to the environment, and safely breaks down into the three natural elements — sand, trace amounts of water, and carbon dioxide — all of which are safe for the air, water and soil. Liquid silicone is so safe that you can rub it on your skin and eat it without adverse side effects. In fact, you probably already do as it is the base ingredient in many chapsticks that you ingest after applying to your lips. It also is in many everyday shampoos, conditioners, deodorants, creams, and lotions.

According to manufacturer statements, “Because clothes cleaned the GreenEarth way aren’t bathed in perc or other petrochemical solvents, they come back fresh and clean without unpleasant ‘dry cleaning’ odor. Green-Earth is also very gentle on clothes. You can actually see and feel the difference it makes. Colors don’t fade and whites don’t gray or yellow the way they do in traditional dry cleaning, even after repeated cleaning. Everything feels better too. Fabrics are smooth and silky, and sweaters feel soft and supple again.”

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Tide has opened a total of 32 franchise operations across the US. The GreenEarth system is currently being used in 900 U.S. locations and, around the world in 1,700 locations and over 40 countries.

Another approach

While both the traditional dry cleaning and new GreenEarth technologies use little water, another environmentally safe option that is gaining traction is based on the cleaning power of water.

While the professional wet cleaning process doesn’t seem to have made its Las Vegas debut yet, the approach uses computer-controlled washers and dryers, specially formulated detergents, and specialized finishing equipment to create a cost-effective alternative to dry cleaning.

In this process, a computer controls the rotation of the cleaning drum to minimize agitation while providing sufficient movement for effective garment cleaning. Wet clean washers are also equipped with a computer programmed detergent injection system, which allows the cleaner to specify the amount and type of wet clean detergent used for each load. Biodegradable wet clean detergents have been formulated by detergent manufacturers to maximize cleaning power while minimizing color change and shrinkage.

Wet clean dryers include computer controls to assure that garments retain a proper amount of moisture after the dry cycle is complete. Specialized tensioning pressing machines are used to enhance the restoration of constructed garments, such as suit jackets, suit pants, and tailored items. There are a number of companies that manufacture professional wet cleaning washer and dryer systems, tensioning equipment presses, and professional wet cleaning detergents and additives.

While professional wet cleaning systems claim to be the most environmentally friendly because of their use of water, it is also a major environmental drawback. Water, as we know, is becoming a more precious and decreasingly available commodity.

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Permit surprise presents snag for patio business

Bar + Bistro Patio

A technicality is spoiling the party for a downtown restaurant in the of the Arts Factory at 107 E. Charleston Blvd.

The Bar + Bistro, at the Arts Factory building’s eastern end, features gourmet cuisine, classic cocktails and contemporary art. It has become a popular destination on First Friday and for the Sunday afternoon “Hangover Brunch” complete with a five-piece bluegrass band.

In the spring and fall, patrons sit at patio tables outside the restaurant to bask in the mild weather. The patio holds about 80 dining customers and is about two-thirds the size of the indoor seating of the bar and restaurant combined. The Vintage Bike Night event held on the patio the third Friday of each month can draw as many as 200 patrons, a big boost to the restaurant’s business.

However, in May, the Las Vegas Planning Department sent a notice to Wes Myles Isbutt, who co-owns the Arts Factory with his wife, Debra Heiser, ordering him to stop serving alcohol on the patio because he lacked a special-use permit for the parcel the patio occupies.

Isbutt bought the Arts Factory building in 1997 and began transforming it into a mixed-use complex and a commercial arts center. The Arts Factory now has 23 commercial art-related tenants representing photography, fine art, architecture, graphic design, along with a yoga school, jewelers and the Bar+Bistro.

In 2006, Isbutt bought the adjoining vacant property at 132 E. Charleston Blvd. and, seeing the Bar+Bistro’s success, built a patio cover and added seating to increase business. The patio has operated for the past four years.

According to the Las Vegas Planning Department, the Bar+Bistro has a special use permit to serve alcohol at the 107 E. Charleston Blvd. address. But because the patio parcel was never joined with the Arts Factory parcel when it was purchased, it has a separate address and parcel number and therefore requires its own special use permit.

The error was caught during a routine business license inspection.

Isbutt has applied for a special use permit for the patio. The Bar + Bistro also must submit plans to the Building and Safety Department to ensure that the patio area is safe.

City of Las Vegas senior public information officer Jace Radke said, “The city does not want to be a burden to the business and is working with the owner to make sure the area is up to code and that he has the right permits. While Bar + Bistro ownership is getting its plans together and bringing anything on the patio that is not up to code into compliance, Building and Safety will issue a 90-day permit that will allow the Bar +Bistro to utilize the patio while the code process is ongoing.”

How can a small-busisness owner avoid this kind of costly disruption? Each government entity operates differently, but all have frequently asked questions guides online and phone numbers to call to have specific questions answered.

In general, if you modifying your building or property, it is best to deal with a licensed professional such as an architect, engineer, registered interior designer or plumber, as they generally know the building codes and what is permissible in each jurisdiction. Restaurants, in particular, should check with the Health District and Business License officials before changing menu items, kitchen operations or seating capacity.

A call to the fire inspector can help small-business owners avoid fire code violations pertaining to dining area access or potentially flammable decorations.

For now, Isbutt and Heiser have to wait. They hope their 90-day permit will arrive in time for the June Vintage Bike Night and July First Friday.

Red Tape Chronicles is an occasional feature that looks at rub points between the business community and government. Have a story to share? Email

Southern Hills CEO changes course; hospital returns to health

When Kimball “Kim” Anderson took over as CEO of Southern Hills Hospital, Las Vegas was deep into the grips of the Great Recession.

Anderson remembers it well: “The economy had tanked and the population that had been predicted to grow had actually shrunk. I looked at the situation and discovered that there were too many hospital beds in the southwest section of town for the population. The staff at the hospital had been reduced, departments combined, managers were managing more than one department, and everyone was concerned about their job (amid) rumors of the hospital closing down.”

To top all that off, Anderson’s appointment was the fourth CEO change in a five-year period. The hospital needed consistency.

Undaunted by the task at hand, Anderson’s first step was to go into the trenches and speak with the troops. He began with hospitalwide town hall meetings and then met with individual departments to find out what was working and what was broken. He reassured everyone that he was there to make the hospital work, not to close it down.

And that’s just what he’s done.

Because of the large senior population in the southwest valley — in particular, the 55-and-older age-restricted community of Siena and several senior living facilities all within the hospital’s five-mile radius — Anderson decided to focus on niche services in senior health care. He opened a 14-bed geriatric-psychiatric care unit that focused on elderly mental health issues.

Then he focused on orthopedic and spine treatments and led the hospital in becoming a certified hip and knee replacement center, attracting some of the leading physicians in that field.

Along with identifying health care needs, Anderson also recognized the need to support the community and be a true partner throughout Southern Nevada. Southern Hills Hospital partnered with the Metropolitan Police Department’s Search &Rescue Team, and through the hospital’s Hot Air Balloon Festival, Southern Hills raised enough to help pay for equipment to train search and rescue volunteers. It’s a program that has been successful for both the department and the community.

In fact, “community” is important to Anderson. “Growing up in the small town of Payson, Utah, I always wanted to be a cowboy. Then I hooked up with a rodeo clown and a bronc rider who showed me the reality of that profession. My father was a pharmacist and my grandfather was a physician, and everyone thought that I would go into the medical field,” Anderson says. “But I enjoyed humanities and business and I loved to cook so I went to BYU and received a degree in hospitality — food systems administration.”

After a short time as a bakery owner, it was his degree that brought Anderson to the food service department of a nearby hospital. After some time, the hospital administrator noticed that physicians enjoyed hanging out in Anderson’s office, he says. When asked the secret of his success with people, Anderson replied: “I tell jokes and feed them.” Anderson was asked to develop a physician relations program for the hospital.

Because of its success, Anderson was tasked with implementing the program in four hospitals in the division. With his career path clearly defined, Anderson went back to school to earn his master’s degree in health care administration. He is also a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and regent for Nevada with that organization.

Today, Anderson is most proud of the changes that have been made at Southern Hills Hospital, which recently was voted Best Hospital in Las Vegas in the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Best of Las Vegas Poll.

“My hope is that people are proud to work here, are engaged, and able to reach their full potential,” he says. “It is also rewarding to know that we have the ability to take care of people in their greatest time of need.”

He is also proud of the “High School to Healthcare Scholarship” program that awarded five, four-year scholarships of $1,000 per year to area students pursuing health care careers.

Southern Hills has grown from 350 employees to nearly 730 in five years.

The hospital is in the process of adding 46 beds and a second cardiac catheterization lab where the staff performs coronary angioplasty with stenting to open up narrowed or blocked segments of a coronary artery.

Under Anderson’s leadership, Southern Hills has received numerous awards and accolades including the Top Performer on Key Quality Measures award for the past four years. The award is given for achieving excellence in performance on its accountability measures by The Joint Commission, an independent, nonprofit organization that accredits and certifies more than 20,500 health care organizations and programs in the United States.

Anderson was also recently received the Health Care Headliner Award in the administrator category for his efforts on improving health care in Southern Nevada.

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