Talking Shop with Wayne Turley, owner of Courtesy Cleaners

Monday, May 21, 2012
Wayne Turley, left, and his son, Nathan Turley, have a new drycleaning machine at Courtesy Cleaners that uses biodegradable solvents. (Fred Lynch)

Wayne Turley, owner of Courtsey Cleaners in Cape Giraedeau, has a long history in the dry cleaning business, but says he's embracing the future by converting to a new "green" cleaning system. The SolvenK4 has different properties than conventional dry cleaning solvents. It's an organic solvent with a pureness of 99 percent. Wayne Turley says he's just doing his part to protect the planet.

Q: What kind of research did you do once you decided you wanted to find a more environmentally friendly dry cleaning process?

A: We studied on it for the better part of two years. There are several alternative solvents out there and we did as much studying as we could because we wanted to make sure we were eco-friendly, but also that we could maintain our standards of quality in cleaning. We've been running it for a month now. We wanted to do that before we said much about it. We've not had any bugs with it and it does an excellent job of cleaning, which is the thing we're most concerned with. If we can't do a good quality job, we're not going to stay in business.

Q: How is your cleaning process different now?

A: It still operates much the same way, but it's a biodegradable solvent now. Before, residues would have to be hauled off. We will continue to do that with any residue we get from this just to be totally sure we're completely safe.

Q: How did you get into the dry cleaning business?

A: My parents owned dry cleaning shops when I was very young in Jackson, Perryville and Farmington. That's how we moved to Jackson, because my dad opened a dry cleaning shop there way back in the 1950s. His first one was called Drive In Cleaners, because it had a drive thru window. As a young man in school, I was coerced into working for him, just like my brother. I was in radio advertising for 10 years when I got out of college with KJAS and KJAQ. I just decided I wanted to be in business for myself, so I bought Courtesy Cleaners 26 years ago. Today, my son Nathan works here with me.

Q: Why was it so important to you to make your business "green?"

A: I think the future of everything is ecofriendly. We try to be as ecologically friendly as we can. My wife and I recycle everything we can. We have three grandsons and want to do everything we can for their future. We want to keep this in the family for a long time.

Q: How has the dry cleaning industry changed over the years?

A: Regulations have become more strict. There are more and more regulations all the time, just like there is with paints. You have to stay continuously up to date.

Q: What's a typical work day like for you?

A: I come in about 4 a.m. and get clothes going and ready for the pressers who come in next. It's a way to beat the heat and I get done around noon. My wife keeps our grandsons two days a week so I'm home to help out with them in the afternoons.

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