Our 123rd anniversary is a celebration of you as much as it is about CLS. For 123 years, CLS has retained the top spot as the leading linen, uniforms, and facility product supplier throughout Michigan’s lower peninsula. We are thrilled that the communities we serve have worked with us to make this happen. It’s also an opportunity to reflect on how we got here and why our service works for our clients.
How it Started
Back in 1899, CLS started as Kalamazoo Laundry Company. Originally, we operated with horse-drawn carriages, individual ironing boards, and hand irons. The roads around us weren’t paved, our loads were much smaller, and we sorted everything by hand. We even used to provide personal laundry services to households.
How it’s Going
Ted Vander Meer, who used to work in several capacities at Kalamazoo Laundry Company, purchased it outright in 1963. The name was changed shortly after that to Continental Linen Service and later CLS in 1999 as we expanded our uniform rental service. Ted has since passed the company on to his children and granddaughter. CLS has three owners: CEO Ron Vander Meer and President Kurt Vander Meer are Ted’s sons, while Senior Vice President Sarah Vander Meer is Ron’s daughter. Our family has greatly expanded CLS’s reach beyond Kalamazoo to the rest of Michigan’s lower peninsula.
Our Experience Shapes Our Service
We can celebrate our 123rd anniversary because of the experience we’ve gained. We apply over a century of knowledge to our products and services to meet our client’s needs. Kurt Vander Meer penned a “Seven Truths” document that summarizes what we’ve learned. Here are those seven truths:
- Relationships Matter. We need to fundamentally understand our clients to provide them with service that meets their needs. That comes through long-lasting relationships.
- People Matter. Investing in the people that make up our team leads to the success we celebrate on our 123rd anniversary.
- Culture Means Everything. It doesn’t matter how talented your staff is or how financially successful the business is if you can’t retain employees with a vibrant culture.
- Customers Should Always Come First. More than just a mantra, we focus on meeting our client’s needs before anyone else’s, followed by our staff and shareholders.
- Don’t Ever Stop Learning. It’s easy to adopt an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality after so many years in the industry. However, continuing to grow and adapt to the changing world prevents stagnation and keeps the business running in the long run.
- Trust is Something You Earn. We work closely with our clients to ensure we give them what they need, earning their trust through effective service.
- Teamwork is Not Just a Word. On top of meeting our client’s needs, we focus on giving our staff a workplace they can rely on and enjoy contributing to.
Here’s to Another 123 Years of Serving Our Customers!
Whether your business has been with us for decades or is just signing up, thank you for helping us reach our 123rd anniversary. Thanks to your support, we have survived pandemics, wars, depressions, and almost anything the world throws at us. Please visit our website here for more information on our company history or our high-quality products and services.