Today we sit down with true legends in the laundromat industry! David and Donna Stark have been in the laundromat industry for 40+ years and have played just about every role in the industry there is to play. Not only incredibly knowledgeable about the industry, David and Donna are both genuine people. You’re going to love hearing their stories and you’re going to learn a ton that will help you find financial freedom in the laundromat industry!

In part 1 of our interview with David and Donna we focus on their early years in the industry, including building over 800 (!!!) laundromats and we get a treat into how laundromats led to love!

Listen To The Podcast Here

Watch The Podcast Here

Jump To These Show Segments

Interview Starts: 6:40

Secret Sauce: 59:33

Pro Tips: 1:04:52

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Episode Transcript

[Music]
you’re listening to the laundromat
resource
podcast the show by laundromat owners
four laundromat owners with your hosts
jordan barry
[Music]
all right what’s up guys this is jordan
from the laundromat resource podcast
we have made it to the end of our first
hand this is show number five
i hope you’re excited to be here today
is a very special day because we have on
a couple of guests
who have been in the laundromat industry
for 40
years that’s not combined years that’s
40
actual years they’ve been in the
industry and they have run the gambit
of anything there is to do in the
laundromat industry from
building they’ve built over 800
laundromats 800 laundromats
that in and of itself is worth sitting
down and listening to
listening to these guys but they’ve
owned and operated a ton they’ve
uh been distributors they’ve anything
there is to do in the lawdman industry
these guys have done it and you do not
want to miss in fact this is only a part
one
where we’re going to sit at the feet of
these people and just listen to their
stories and learn from them
we’re going to come back with a part two
uh this this first one
has to do with a little bit of their
earlier years part two will be focused
more towards
the later years and current times and
man i’m telling you
these guys are just they’re not only are
they a wealth of knowledge
and experience but they’re just great
people um so we’ll meet them in a minute
but first i want to talk about a few
things
uh the first one being there’s been a
little bit of life in the forums lately
so i know i’ve mentioned that in the
past um and
i i’ve just been so excited that there’s
been a little bit of life in there so
i’m in there um all the time every day
i’m peeking in there and
um it’s not a ton going on but i’d love
for more
to be happening over there so if you
have questions go
throw those in the forum um and and get
your questions answered over there
i’ll be in there to answer help answer
some and hopefully
you know some of you even if you don’t
have questions maybe peek in at the
forums and see
uh if you can help answer some questions
that’d be awesome i just would love for
that to be a place where people can
come and interact about the laundromat
industry whether they’re new or
experienced
whether that’s about you know how to get
into the industry or how to operate your
business
any of that stuff that’s a great place
to do it so that’s laundromat
resource.com
forum f-o-r-u-m
and uh yeah go check that out so thanks
for those of you who’ve been over there
posting questions
that’s been awesome the second thing
i’ve been getting asses
all the time and i’m actually very
excited that i keep getting
asked this question but um but man i’m
feeling the pressure and so i just
wanted to take a second
and just address it um i’ve i’ve uh put
on my site
that um that we’d be releasing our our
first book
uh on how to buy laundromats
um last month um in april 2020
and obviously it’s not out yet and
you know just with some of the
coronavirus stuff happening and
uh just kind of delays due to that
both on my part and on the part of of
those helping me put it together
it’s just been delayed a little bit so
i’m hoping to you know i’m
buckling down on that thing and i’m
getting it cranked out and i’m hoping to
get that out within the next couple of
weeks
so stay tuned and make sure you
subscribe here to this podcast not only
to get great information and insight
about the industry from laundromat
owners
just specifically for you but also so
you can get an update on when that
book’s coming out um so i’ll let you
know there and maybe we’ll do like a
giveaway and give a couple of them away
that’d be awesome
um so we’ll do that and thanks for
hanging tough with me on that one and
uh yeah we’ll get it out asap because
i’m excited to have it out too
and i keep getting there’s a um a book
request on the website
for people to sign up to um hear about
when the book comes out and hear
information about it
uh along the way and i’ve been getting
more and more requests on that so
um if that’s you if you’re one of those
people waiting for that book to come out
uh just hang on a little bit longer and
we’re almost ready to go
um so yeah now i i don’t want to delay
too long because we just have some
great great great conversation today
with dave
and david and donna stark and again
they’ve been in the industry
for ever and they know
more about the laundromat industry than
probably anyone else out there
to be honest so and you’re going to love
them as people they’re
they’re very very sweet and very very
cool people so
i don’t want to delay that too long but
before we get to them
let’s take a quick break for this little
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[Music]
all right without further ado let’s
bring in david and donna stark and
find out who these guys are and how they
got into the laundromat industry
yeah well that’s pretty easy
yeah how we got involved yeah it is kind
of interesting
because quite frankly it’s probably
not a lot different than how a lot of
people get involved
by mistake rather than
we had a real purpose or that we really
intended to go the direction that we
went
so i can recall back my parents owned
apartment buildings
and my brother and i being he’s a twin
brother
and we thought it would be a great idea
to put a washer and dryer
into the apartment building so
we decided that we were going to go to
find a commercial distributor
that would allow us to buy a washer and
dryer that we could put into the
apartment building
so lo and behold we ended up hooking up
with pws
and we happened to walk in one day
and there was no sales people available
and so bernie steinberg happened to be
walking through the lobby and he saw us
and we told him why we did we didn’t
know who he was
and we told him why we were there and he
says well come into my office
so we went down and chatted with him for
a while told him what we were trying to
do
and he sold us one top load washer
and one dryer
so we put it into the apartment building
and it worked out great and so we said
well why don’t we
start buying washers and dryers and put
it into apartment buildings
so we decided we were going to do that
and then
lo and behold we came across webb
that controlled the entire market they
could buy all the locations
and we had no money so we couldn’t do it
that’s a problem not having any money
right so there was no way we could do it
we couldn’t get in every apartment
complex we went to they either had
contracts or they were getting paid a
bunch of money in order to
give the contracts so that wasn’t
working
so somehow we went back to bernie
and said well we’re not going to be
buying any washers and dryers it doesn’t
work we can’t get in
and he goes why don’t you do a
laundromat
and we thought about it we says okay
well it’s kind of the same thing washers
and dryers yeah why don’t we do that
so he hooked us up with a location
to buy and it was a little store
that was um
right in the path of where a freeway was
going
so we actually put it into escrow
and we were gonna buy it for like
fifteen thousand dollars i think was the
purchase price
and we were going to um when was this
this would have been
[Music]
let’s see well i know i don’t look old
enough
but it would have been
49 years ago oh my goodness i’m having a
hard time
buying a single washer for fifteen
thousand dollars
so we were gonna buy that store we went
into escrow and then we decided
that it was not a good idea
because the freeway was coming you know
i’d be in the middle of the freeway
you know this is not a good idea did you
have a good breaker
to do this he told you the freeway was
coming no we figured it out
bernie didn’t tell us the freeway it was
coming oh whoops
details yeah details um so we said no
we’re not gonna do it
so then he put us in touch with a store
in los alamitos okay and it’s in a
uh on los alamos boulevard so we
purchased that store
and i don’t remember what the price was
probably not much more than
15 but somewhere and we ended up having
to actually borrow five thousand dollars
from our mother
in order to come up with the down
payment
and so what happened
something had happened was we purchased
that store
i drove by it
a month ago that store is still there
still there huh
we should buy it 50 years later and that
store is still operating
wow which i found fascinating that it
was actually still there
but anyway it is so that’s actually how
we got in
it was really by mistake it was default
because we
couldn’t figure out how to get into the
apartment complexes
and so that’s how we bought the very
first store
i like hearing that story i’ve heard it
a lot but i like it i’m not in the
business by the way quite yet jordan
just so you know
i’m not in the business yet at this
point in the story at this point in the
story yes are you guys
together yet or not yet oh my gosh no
no because she would have been 10 years
old
it’s okay no i was still trying to get
through elementary
school all right
that wouldn’t work that wouldn’t have
worked okay
so you got in your first one and
how did that go how was the how was the
experience
no it was it was it was good
and it’s really interesting when you
reflect back and look at the way that
you operated
stores then they were unattended
and so basically you would go through
and we would go two three times a day we
would clean it
and so forth and take care of equipment
we do all our own repairs
you know we pretty much did everything
yeah um back then
and it’s fascinating when you look at
the stores they were
[Music]
basically 95 top load washers
and a couple of front load washers
sitting off
to one side and that was pretty standard
in the industry back then you know
that’s pretty much what it was
and so it went fine we did you know we
remodeled it
and which was kind of a natural for us
growing up in the apartment complexes
with our parents because from the time
we were
able to walk we were working at the
apartments either
mowing lawns putting on roofs changing
out windows water heaters whatever it is
we did all that stuff growing up so it
was just a natural thing for us
that when we had that store and it
needed to be remodeled and it needed to
be remodeled
yeah we just did it ourselves yeah
because that’s kind of what
it just seemed like the thing to do it
never
occurred to us that we’d hire somebody
to remodel it you just do it yourself
so that’s what we did so that store
went fine and then we
came across an opportunity
to buy a group of three stores
but we didn’t have any money problem
so i’m sensing a theme
bernie said this was with bernie and so
bernie said
no problem he goes come with me
so he took us down he like he kind of
took us under his wing he liked our
enthusiasm he liked our energy
he liked our drive and so he said
okay come with me so he set up an
appointment
with bank of america downtown l.a
and this was the bank that they did
business with the pws did business with
okay so he set this appointment up we
walked in
sat down with i guess would be his loan
officer
and he says i want you to loan these
guys money
to do these three projects and the guy
says okay
no problem and that was it
and simpler times they’ve loaned us the
money
we bought three stores
and we were off and running but it was
also helpful that bernie i mean had they
just walked in on their own
it would have never it would never have
happened it was and by the way
maybe for the audience bernie steinberg
is the s in pws for those that
we assume everybody knows but for for
some that may not know
well and and for those who may not know
pws
is a laundry company and they they’re a
supplier they do a bunch of stuff and
you’ll hear a little bit more about what
they do here in a little bit
from uh yeah david here but yeah yeah
they’re a laundry
company so um david and daryl would have
been going to 20 banks themselves but
bernie
you can tell we have a lot of um love
and respect for bernie and you’ll hear
more of that in a little
minute but yeah he was very very helpful
wouldn’t you say oh it was yeah he was
incremental
in us getting moving forward
and of course it’s at the end of the day
it’s up to you
to be able to capitalize on the
opportunity
right and so either you do something
with it or you don’t
but you know if you don’t then you know
that the way it goes but if you do
then you could benefit from having
relationships with people
that can put it in front of you
yeah so you know they can open the door
for you but you got to be able to walk
through it
that’s right and if you don’t want to
walk through the door then
you’re probably not going to go very far
yeah
okay so you walk through the door and
now you have
do you have a total of four laundromats
now we have four laundromats or at this
point in the story
yeah just bought in three and and did
you remodel those and
how did that what happened we remodeled
those
and we operated those for
a few years unattended unattended stores
coin we did calling stores we did
everything
ourselves so
we kind of got on to that
cycle that we were going through all the
stores several times a day
keeping them clean keeping equipment
operating
doing vending supplies picking up money
going to the bank
so we got into this real i’m overwhelmed
already this monotonous routine
of just going through constantly
and what happened is i would say we both
sort of got burned out with the whole
process
because we were doing it so mechanically
rather than methodical yeah and so we
weren’t
um utilizing at that point in time
expertise that we could have taken
advantage of
and maybe done it in a smarter way
rather than just working
and working and working and working and
not going anywhere you just feel like
you’re spinning your wheels
yeah so ultimately
we decided to sell the stores
okay we ended up selling all the stores
off
um all four of them all four of them
okay peace out and
because of my background
we thought well we we’re builders we can
build we can remodel
so we really got into the business
of remodeling laundromats
and doing equipment installations and
that was
really developed along with
pws so we would do equipment
installations for them
we would do remodels of existing stores
we would go through and paint dryers
that needed to be painted
back before they’re you know stainless
steel which most of them are now
so we would go through and do remodels
in stores
and we did that for a number of years
were you a general contractor at that
point did you have your gc license at
that point
no okay no we were just doing remodels
at that point
and then that really took us up to the
point
where donna comes into the picture yay
so she has arrived yes
how did she arrive tell us about how she
got into this picture here
well i was 18 just graduated from high
school
and um obviously needed to find a job
now that i wasn’t in high school anymore
and i went on three job interviews and
one of them happened to be for a company
called
pws okay and um
for whatever reason that was the job i
selected and i started working
um as the sales secretary i’m 19 at this
point
and um in walks david and daryl one day
and they kind of stop and they’re twin
brothers for those of you that don’t
know they’re twins
which ones they look very much they look
they look very much alike
so they’re both equally as handsome okay
oh that’s so sweet
i know isn’t that nice i know um
and they stop and david kind of takes
two steps back because
i’m obviously in your face and i’m right
in the front of
the old pws office in commerce and it
kind of pats me on the head
and kind of wants to know who i am and
what my job is
so i have now entered the world of pws
and
obviously my life has changed forever um
i ended up working for bernie within a
relatively short period of time
and um he used to call me curly
not really sure why but he called me
curly
and um i you know i became his um
you know his assistant and bernie was
the one in charge of building stores
and so i was in charge of construction
loans
and um they were subleasing a lot of
stores at that point so i was in charge
of all the subleases
and um and then at that point then david
is trying to break into
the building of all of these brand new
stores
because we were building a lot of stores
a year so you want to take that from
there
yeah there were contractors
that they had been using for a number of
years
and the way they had it structured was
that they had a couple of plumbing
contractors
they had one specific carpenter group
and they had a couple of electrical
groups
and so the way that they were building
the stores
were basically by contracting electrical
plumbing and carpentry
through these subcontractors or
contractors
as it may be rather than using a general
contractor to
coordinate and we were doing
at that point a lot of the equipment
installations and all of the new
stores but we weren’t building them so
basically it was being built by these
other contractors
we’d come in as part of the process and
we would install
the equipment right so we were doing
that for some period of time probably a
few years that we actually did that
um where we were just going in and doing
the equipment side of it
and i always had in the back of my mind
that
these guys were getting to the point
that they were being difficult to work
with
because they’ve been doing it for so
long
and they were set in their waves and it
was either
their way or the highway
and quite frankly they became difficult
to work with
for pws simply because they
were not willing to go the extra step
they were they had so many projects that
they were just pushing through them
and they really weren’t very good at
follow-up detail or come back and take
care of issues
because they were already moving on to
the next project yeah we couldn’t get
the last 10 percent done
so that was kind of a problem sounds
like all my
home projects can’t get
and so what that did was it told me that
there was an
opportunity in order to
go to them and say look we’ll do the
whole thing
and we’ll be the general contractor and
we’ll coordinate all the subs
and we will supply you with a finished
product
rather than you having to contract
individually
with all of the people and then chase
them to try and get the work done
then you got one central person to go to
to resolve your issues
so i put that forward and it went
nowhere
and i thought it was such a good idea
but it didn’t go anywhere and so this
one so we continued to work we continued
to do
the equipment installations
and which was not a bad gig i mean
really it was good we were very busy we
put a lot of equipment into a lot of
stores
so we were making a decent living doing
it but i knew that we could do more
so one day
unbeknownst to me which i didn’t
really know was that behind the scenes
donna was still working on it
to try and get me into the
new store construction
so i came in one day and i was
frustrated about
the fact that we couldn’t move forward
he was not frustrated he was very mad
and the steam was coming out of his head
so he just wanted to
paint the clear tell him yeah tell him
like it is yes
i was ready to march into barney
and tell them that i thought this was
ridiculous
you know that i put forward a great
opportunity for them
and they weren’t pursuing it and i was
going to give them a piece of my mind
with the steam blowing out of his head
all the way
and i am right outside of bernie’s
office so back in the day there was
u-shape
so bernie’s got a big the three of four
actually but three the three pws had
you know very large offices all the
windows and i’m sitting right outside
bernie’s office at this point
okay continue so curly
me says to me
hey you may want to wait a minute
i wouldn’t barge in right now is what i
said very very low under my breath
i think maybe now’s not the time and i
said
okay i was mad but that’s
fine all right i won’t go in
and so lo and behold she had been
working
with bernie to get us the opportunity
to build a new store
and so this was right at the time that
he was prepared to say yes
we’re going to give them a shot and let
them build a store
and so probably within
actually a week of when i was going to
go in
and blow my opportunity forever
they gave me my first job wow to build
out the store
yay donna okay well the contractors were
causing bernie and i a lot of fuss
the stores weren’t cleaned up they
weren’t cleaning up after themselves
i’m getting calls from landlords at this
point i am organizing all of these subs
myself and of course with bernie
obviously
and it wasn’t it just wasn’t going well
they weren’t
they weren’t being overly helpful so i
told bernie we have nothing to lose
we really don’t by letting david
try this let’s just see we have nothing
to lose and so
bernie said curly let me let me think
about it and so anyway
long story short enter
david stark the general contractor of
stark and stark enterprises by the way
that was the very first company
that is true yeah but this goes back to
the same thing we
talked about earlier is that okay now
you’ve been given the opportunity can
you perform
can you actually get it built and can
you provide
them with what their expectations are
that you’re going to give to them
so my job was to exceed their
expectations
and so what do you do you end up working
24 hours a day in order
to make sure that that first door
turns out to not only be
done well but produced on a timely basis
which is what they were having trouble
with because we were paying rents
because these stores couldn’t get
completed because we couldn’t get the
utilities off well you know i mean i
don’t
we can go into it hours of that
conversation but it was costing more
money
to have the three subs three in essence
um so i told david you have to get this
done on time
so that we don’t have to send one rent
check
the first rent check will be when it’s
opened or or fairly close
yeah continue yeah so that was really
how we got started
in the construction side of it so at
that point i was a general contractor
and i was also a plumbing contractor
and so that entity was starting stark
enterprises
um when when was this about
well uh what has been
what 35 years well well 80
1980 85
80 probably probably mid 80s
yeah somewhere in there yeah that sounds
right
mid 80s and my brother had now
exited the company
so he was not with me at that point in
time
he moved to washington to raise chickens
yep so he was gone
he pissed out and uh sometimes that
sounds nice
yeah i don’t know there’s a lot of
problems with chickens by the way
but he wanted to you know he was you
know he had small
kids at the time and he wanted to really
go
into a different environment you know
more of a
chicken environment yeah chicken
environment
it’s the truth we can get onto that
story i know but that’s
just another hole yeah i have you on my
chicken podcast
no yeah i’m not sure that your listeners
really i mean we got to make sure we’re
keeping this entertaining for
the listeners jordan yeah but no don’t
go in the chicken business i wouldn’t
i i wouldn’t encourage you to do that
okay yes all right we’ll stick with
laundry let’s do that yeah
so do do should we move ahead in the
story are we
being laborious here with the with the
small little details
i am fascinated i don’t okay so but ask
questions
maybe if you want to continue to ask
questions so if you think there’s
something more that we could be
because you know we’re obviously going
down memory routes
that’s right
you’re 15 minutes of fame you take it
sorry
so it was fascinating that once we got
the opportunity to build
then we had to figure out okay well how
are we going to structure that
and so being a general contractor and a
plumbing contractor it made sense to me
that if we were going to do projects we
should bring a lot of the work in-house
so that’s what we did with stark and
stark
was we then said fine we’re going to do
all of our own carpentry work
and we’re going to do all of our own
plumbing work
because those are obviously two of the
major areas
right um involved and obviously we were
already set up to do equipment
installations so that was nothing new
so basically that’s the way we
structured the company
was to do obviously the general
contracting side of it
so we would do the layouts of the
laundry
we would do all the city work all the
permit
work get it ready
to go and then we would do
in-house all of the carpentry work so we
would build all our own
bunk heads and pulling tables and
bulkhead tops
and whatever it was we would do that
we’d put in all of the plumbing
ourselves
um so we would do obviously the water
and the gas
and so forth and then we would hire a
subcontractor for the electrical
we never did get directly involved
with doing electrical in-house we always
sub-contract
that out yes and we had a couple of guys
that we worked with that were
quite good at it and so we got to the
point that we could turn out a lot of
projects
a lot jordan and a lot
tell me about a lot a lot jordan
so it took
what donna was doing on the inside
according
you know coordinating all of the
projects from the standpoint of leases
and
all of the things that go on uh
with getting projects on board that we
could then build
and so it was pretty
easy to move forward um
once we had the structure in place and
that was
half the battle was having the structure
in place
so that we could then produce the
projects
and at that point in time we were
probably doing
maybe 15 or 20 a year
so we were probably putting one out
every two to three weeks or whatever it
was
it was insane um that is anatomy
it went to it went to a much higher
level
down the road but that’s a separate
project
um so that that kind of comes later
so we we did that for
a number of years where we were building
outside of the structure of
pws and through that time
i was learning more and more about
design of stores
layout of stores and coming up with
new ideas or maybe new
sorry sorry sorry we’re back lost you
for a second
okay that’s all right so we came up with
you know ways to do layouts that we
thought were more efficient and
of course they start transitioning into
more front loaders and
you know the industry as it evolves over
time
so there was a point then
where pws came to me
and says why don’t you bring this
in-house
and i thought okay
he thought for a long time but at this
point he’s designing these most
beautiful laundries like he really took
the industry to a whole other level by
the way he was designing them because
that’s really his strength
um is is the design i mean
they were it was a whole new ball game
in the laundry industry the design he
was coming up with
meanwhile bernie and i are patting each
other on the back for this such a smart
move
because bernie’s life became easier
because i wasn’t coming to him
constantly
saying mr steinberg we have got to do
something
this plan currently as it stands is not
working
so we solved the problem
pretty easy so anyway continue
yeah and i i think part of it
part of the um
[Music]
the difficulty i was having
during that point in time of just
building
was that i was also trying to
work with all the different salesmen
that were trying to put
projects together so they would come to
me and say
okay i’ve got this location blah blah
blah blah and
how much it’s going to cost to build it
they’re giving you no information right
yeah there’s no layout there’s no design
there’s no plans there’s no utility
infrastructure information so i became
pretty good at being able to go out
analyze sites and be able to come up
with obviously a design was not
difficult
you know you got the dimensions and you
can figure out how to lay it out
and you can come up with a design that’s
pretty simple
yeah for you it was for the most
difficult part
was then trying to ascertain without any
information
the utility infrastructure
that’s going to be required in order to
convert it into a laundry most shopping
centers don’t have the
utility infrastructure that you need to
handle what a laundry needs
so you’ve got to have to try and figure
that and come up with the price
so you’re shooting from the hip all the
time
and praying and praying that you did it
right and sometimes
most of the time you do sometimes you
miss it horribly and i don’t want to get
on to
those ones i could tell you a couple of
stories of ones that didn’t work out so
well
that i was on the hook for uh
so but we could do another whole one on
that
interestingly enough going back to the
issue of where they
said we think you ought to come in house
there was a part of that that was
attractive to me from the standpoint
that i would have more support
than what i was getting doing it all on
my own
so i thought okay i’ll do that i’ll go
ahead
and i’ll make that transition in
and i will run your development
department so
that was the transition that i made
and we actually continued to operate
stark and stark
as an entity outside
so we were contracting
i was inside in essence inside pws
and we were contracting a lot of the
work through stark and stark
and we did it as at in arm’s length
distance the way it was being reviewed
by others so it wasn’t like i was doing
it
and nobody knew what i was doing other
people were reviewing the contracts
it was bernie that was doing all of that
i mean yeah well
and sandy and sandy yeah and both yeah
so is there any questions you have for
us up to this point
that we’ve taken you down this hole yeah
i need to take a quick detour though
because i feel like i need to know
like it’s dangling out there and it’s
just driving me crazy
when when did the love start to
enter into this relationship a long time
oh well let’s see um i think because we
work
so closely together for
a number of years that we really
thought of ourselves more as business
partners than we did anything else
well we yeah we kind of were that’s what
that’s what we were
okay and we’ve both been married and
divorced so throw that in there
yeah but we’re both divorced for first
you know for several years
so i think i don’t know how i do
i know i know she knew ask me donna you
tell us
how did this happen bernie asked me one
day
he just said curly like
i don’t understand you seem to get along
well bernie was at my first wedding
and um so was i and so was david stark
by the way
yeah yes oh my goodness sorry
yes so anyway yeah i just decided that i
was gonna have to ask him to go out on a
date because obviously he wasn’t gonna
ask me
so i just asked him one day i don’t i
don’t even i honestly i mean the story
has been convoluted over the years so
i’m trying to really
remember exactly but i asked him if he
wanted to go
on a date with me i asked him
he didn’t answer right away he just
stared at me
you know what david she opened the door
for you but you gotta
walk there you go
you are so correct so we had we dated
for
i don’t know three months and then i
asked him to marry me
because at this point now i’m 29 and
i wasn’t getting any younger and i
figured if i can’t wait
it’s not like we didn’t know each other
exactly yeah yeah so we had been working
together
for you know 10 years at this point yeah
and we had been through
it wasn’t just shane bralaj you know it
was not
being in the laundry industry anybody
that tells you that it’s all kicks and
giggles
is not telling you the truth yeah so we
had been through some financial
issues and uh well i think the
fascinating
thing is that when you think about the
industry as a whole
it’s much more complex than just running
lumber maps that may be the end product
but there’s a whole lot that goes on
[Music]
between being a distributor and a
builder
and so forth that’s on the other side of
the game
a lot of people never even see right and
so it’s fascinating
how it all ties together whether
whether it’s equipment or whether it’s
leasing or purchasing real estate
or whatever it may be
the laundromat is only the end product
of what it what it is as an industry
it’s a big industry right
when you think of all the pieces of the
puzzle that go into it
and it’s not glamorous the laundry
industry is not glamorous
i mean it it just isn’t it you know
people that own restaurants that’s a
little more glamorous which i would
never do by the way but
laundromats really aren’t but just to
give
a little forward motion on this i mean
we have been in all that facets of it
we’ve been distributors
we you know again we’ve we started a
whole other company which i guess will
be down the road uh
a little bit but we’ve owned real estate
so we’ve done it all at this point in
the journey but anyway do you want to
get back to me marrying david stark
yes that was only like two seconds
jordan yeah
well bring it out come on we want to do
it we want to know the story
okay yes i felt like i was getting
shortchanged and we were getting
back to building laundries nobody cares
about laundromats we don’t know about
the love
so yeah so i asked him to marry me he
kind of had to think about it for a
minute or two
but then i just assumed he was gonna say
yes so then we decided
i decided that i better not wait and so
i said well let’s get married in like
six weeks
so we set it for october
of 1989 and then the venue we were
getting married at
we were getting married at the surf and
sand they were going to tear down the
deck that we were going to get married
on so then we got to move it up to
september 9th
so then it became like a four week
something engagement i don’t know that i
would call it quite fast
how do you how do you call it i think i
did ask her to marry me
no in front of her mother it was after
she’d asked me to marry her
okay yes that’s an important part yes he
did but i actually
did and your mother at dinner i did ask
her
and your mother yeah we were at del mar
we owned race horses at the time and we
were at del mar
and um he did what do you want to hear
about the racers yeah well no i mean
that’s on my racehorse uh podcast we’ll
get you yeah okay
chicken first then racehorses with the
chickens yeah yeah
we did we did own them yeah anyway the
thing was launderland the silks but
anywho
so i asked him and then yes he formally
did ask me for all the viewers out there
that are listening he did so we got
married nine nine of 89
yes oh that’s remember 30 years ago
yeah okay so anyway yes and
people okay here’s a fun fact in our
wedding cards it said see you in
division two do you know what division
two is
oh no divorce court because they said
there’s no way that these two
can run this company get married
have a family and not lose their minds
and or get divorced
so all i needed to see was that one card
that said it
and i went oh oh they don’t know who
they’re dealing with here
no way uh-uh so here we are so here we
are
two children oh no we’ve made it believe
me he’s not leaving me
not leaving me at this point he has no
choice
now hold on there’s another part to the
story
i committed he did to 40 years
he did that was it yeah so
so i’ve got 10 more years to go
his mother lived to a hundred so i’m
quite certain we’re good
but do you also want to know we have two
children yeah
yeah i know that’s how you through your
kids
jenna jenna stark and craig stark craig
stark’s the oldest they’re 18 months
apart
and craig’s also in the laundry business
now owns his own laundry
and is the operations manager for uh one
side of our company
so yes so we have two children there
craig’s going to be 30 and jen is 28 and
jenna’s a firefighter for ocfa is which
is how you met us through
jenna stark that’s right yep that’s
right
who is it okay jordan well okay so we
got we got the love i’m i’m just happy
that that’s out we got the love
into the podcast it’s something that
we’ve been missing yes
at this point yes okay so
you know we’ll round out this we’re
going to do a whole another episode
because there’s so i mean
you guys have such rich experience um
from so many different angles like you
were saying of the laundryman industry
so we want to hear about
more of that so today we’re talking a
little bit more about
you know kind of these early days if you
if you had to put a number on it how
many
this just blows me away so how many uh
laundromats do you think you’ve built
over the years
oh eight to nine hundred
eight to nine hundred yes
laundromats yes
by far and away the majority of them in
california
we did go back and build a number of
them
in chicago and
a little bit cup you know we did a
little bit in arizona
yeah um but mostly
predominantly california and under the
brand of laundroland
yeah wow yeah and a lot of remodels and
you know when the riots happened in la
we went in and rebuilt a lot of those
stores
unfortunately that were burned to the
ground yeah um
so yeah there was there was a lot of
them
wow that’s like a whole industry in and
of itself
worth it we still drive by stores and
somebody will say
give because you i don’t know jordan i’m
gonna just tell you this
because i’m not sure if other laundry
owners feel this but everywhere we go
and we try to explain what we do we
david and i always look at each other
and say i don’t even really know what to
say at this point but
i kid you not and jenna if she were here
in craig they would say the same thing
people will say i’ve always wanted to
own a laundry
yeah tell me a little bit about it i
don’t know how many people we have
talked to and david’s so great with
sharing his knowledge with everybody
um that we get we that’s what we get
asked
really no the truth of it is is that
i’m very good at talking about it
you know simply you know it’s really it
is interesting though because you have
people come in and they have a
perception of what it is
and quite often the perception still
today
believe it or not is that they kind of
operate themselves
which is the biggest mistake you can
make absolutely and
when i look at some of the deals they
bring to me
that they’re looking at to buy
it scares me to death yeah for that
because
i can just see
that they’re going to be confronted with
because
somebody is trying to pawn their problem
up on them
and so i probably have discouraged
more people then i have encouraged to
get into it
but i feel good about that because i
might have saved them
a tremendous amount of heartache
and money they choose to go forward and
money
yeah if they choose to go forward okay
you know more power to them and i hope
the best for them
um but i try to direct them towards if
you’re gonna do this
get with a good broker one with
integrity
has the ability to give you the straight
shot of what’s going on
and you will come out ahead
99 out of 100 times if you do that
overthinking you’re going to go in and
do it on your own
where were you six or seven years ago
when i needed you
jordan that’s right and david was also a
broker too he sold he was a broker and
sold laundry
i wasn’t a pro i was just i’m sorry yes
i had a real estate
license right yeah so he was yes
and i wasn’t very good at it because
i’ve been so
honest yeah like don’t buy this
like no no uh
yeah well i mean i i think that that’s
so
valid like i mean i’ve shared my story
and you know
here before and with you guys and right
you know i i had such a rough rough
entry into the business and you know
just the fact that you’re willing to say
hey you know what
this is not a good this is not a good
deal don’t don’t do it i
i i would have i would have paid
thousands of dollars to hear that
because it would have saved me tens of
thousands of dollars
in the long run so just having that
wisdom is
and and you know just a willingness to
share with other people
right yeah that’s key one you’ve got to
start with somebody that knows what
they’re doing to sell it
to you and with integrity yeah yeah
that’s that’s the number one thing i
tell people now too and even
even when you get somebody like that
even just having a third party someone
like you who knows what they’re doing
who can just double check everything
and you know who knows the industry and
who can tell you you know what
pass on this one or this isn’t this
right yeah well we pass
on them all the time yeah yeah because
the last thing i need to do is take
somebody new coming into the business
and lead them astray
because when it goes bad then they’re
going to come back to me
and they’re going to say well you know
couldn’t you have
warned me about this or this or this so
at least if you lay it out for them
then it’s up to them to make the
decision i can’t control that
but i can certainly control what
information they give them
so that they have an opportunity then to
make an informed decision on what
they’re doing
yeah david’s a good david stark is a
good person
yeah oh yeah oh my gosh i mean
you guys both are amazing and incredible
i just wanna uh we’ll wrap up this
section right now but
right before we do let’s just do a quick
snapshot what is your business we’ll
we’ll talk about this more in depth
you know in the next episode that we do
together um but give us a quick snapshot
what does your business look like right
now
how many laundry mats do you own what
are you guys doing are you guys still
building
general information yeah we are not
building
um per se we would
if somebody well let me phrase that i
don’t know that i would if somebody came
to me
because they do come to me from time to
time and still ask me
if we would build one and we just
basically say no
i would build one for myself
so if i was going to get back on and
build one
um because we no longer have the
infrastructure obviously
of the employees so we would end up
contract we would
generally subcontract to different
contractors but i would do it
if i was building one for myself which
is not
out of the realm of possibility that
that could still happen
somewhere we’re operating uh four stores
now all stores that we originally built
and our son’s operating a store
that he owns that we originally built
and all of those stores were built
under the sparkling name which was the
distribution company
that came later than where we are
in the story right now
we and when we built them we bought them
i mean we kept them
so these stores weren’t built and sold
and we came back and rebought them we
built them
and we operated them right out of the
gate except for one
in riverside which is another story but
um the three the three uh we
built and operated them right out of the
right out of the gate so that’s what we
own
because you guys have a pretty
successful pickup and delivery service
also right
and that’s the newest thing on on board
to our company that was the latest thing
that was just launched uh about a year
and a half ago
okay but we did also we’ve been doing
fluff and fold for a very long time now
it’s hard to believe how long but it’s
for a very long time yeah probably we’ve
probably been doing the fluff and bowl
for like maybe four years yeah
four or five years yeah so we do fluff
and fold after two of the locations
and we do we do a pretty large
commercial account business
as well um and then the residential
has the last thing that has come on to
the corporation um in the last in the
last year
we’ve added that piece awesome
awesome well i i mean your guys’s story
is
incredible um your love story incredible
donna what it is way to be a go-getter
and just
find what you want and then go after
jordan oh no i
i knew once bernie put the little seed
in my brain i’m like yeah
i don’t understand why don’t i ask this
guy to marry me
so yes yeah i’m kind of like that jordan
i get something in my
mind and i it’s i don’t get derailed
ever actually yeah
my mind is something and i’m like oh no
this is the way this is going to go
this is it david stark’s a good sport
because i always have
side hustles too and he just says donna
honestly
no more side hustles i’m like but
they’re so much fun
yeah according to whom i don’t know
maybe but
anyway if you’re listening to this
david is just shaking his head right now
oh no i still have side hustle ideas
yeah and he just says no and jenna
actually has side hustle ideas too which
i guess the apple doesn’t fall too far
from the tree but
yeah jordan thank you for having us and
letting us do this with you
well i can’t let you go yet i still have
a couple more questions to ask
of course that i want to get into so
don’t thank me yet
uh but i want to know this okay we have
a little section that we like to call
the secret sauce listen up it’s the
secret sauce
yes and i want to know what what’s
something that’s
working really well in your business
right now that other owners can
implement
that you know can help their businesses
improve
yeah this one’s you yes this one she’s
got this
man so because we just don’t own one
store that’s just a walk-in laundry
uh we’ve diversified so much um over all
these years that it became very clear to
me that we needed a
website and not just a website that you
build on your own because there’s so
many that you can build on your own i
knew we needed a company that knew what
they were doing to do it
and i probably looked for three years
and i just couldn’t find somebody that i
thought was a good fit
for me because i was going to be the one
working directly with this company
and we just hit the lottery it’s a
company called creative marketing
services
they built our website which is beyond
fabulous um they handle
all the changes that need to be done to
it especially with this latest version
of covet 19.
they were they were i just can’t tell
you the work that they did on it to let
everybody know that we were still open
um and then they also do all of our
marketing
all of our online marketing google
analytics
s you know our seo work our everything
having to do with our marketing
from the walk-in traffic to the fluff
from full
traffic to the residential
and commercial side of the business and
then we also
i mean from now and then we have people
that want to uh rent out our laundries
for movies
commercials and things like that and so
the website’s beyond beautiful and then
we
and she works with the company called
harmony three productions that does all
of our video
and on our website right now there’s a
video that i don’t even need to tell
people what we do
they just go to the website and click
the video and
they can see how the residential service
works so that’s the key to me if you if
you owe multiple stores
and you really want to do something
other than just do a walk-in
type of business you need the mark
because people validate you through your
website
yeah if your website is wonky and looks
like
it was built 98 years ago people will
more than likely
move on and find something that is
very professional looking and run well
and creative marketing services
is the real deal that was the game
changer yeah
yeah that’s awesome i mean i i it’s such
a especially when you get into that
you know pickup and delivery you know
online
stuff is is crucial because it is
you know there there are no phone books
anymore you know that’s that’s where
people find you
and get to know you and learn trust you
and
you know so even having that i don’t
think that um i don’t think a lot of
people understand
just how valuable that is when you think
about the dollars being spent it’s
probably the best dollars you’ll ever
spend
it is when you look at it from the
standpoint
of trying to do advertising and in
essence that’s really what it is
you’re advertising your product and it’s
probably
by far the best dollars you’ll spend and
it’s brand awareness too i mean we’ve
created a brand over the years
and um it’s brand awareness i mean the
the
the ads that they are running right now
for mother’s day in particular and just
the pickup service with mother’s day i
see them come through on my instagram
feed
or facebook and i know they’re coming
because i’ve approved them all
but i still smile when i see them come
up so
it depends on how big you want to take
your operation
of course because if you just have one
store yelp is
you know yelp and doing some you know
some google ads is helpful but
once you get to a piece that you’re
trying to manage different parts of
being a owner i i really believe that
um a functional website i mean you’ve
seen our website right have you looked
at it
yeah it’s awesome it’s awesome and all
if you don’t mind i’ll put a link to it
in the show notes and people can check
it out yeah i mean yeah i’d love for
them to see it i mean i
i just think it’s beautiful and this
company is
just a just a five-star company
the way they run their business they’re
fun too
i enjoy working with them that’s both of
them harmony 3
and creative marketing services yeah
well that’s important too
it is well that’s awesome secret sauce i
think that’s
i think that’s crucial and even even if
you only own
one laundromat you know maybe you don’t
need to get so crazy where you’re
you know paying a bunch of money for ads
and and stuff right you need to have a
good website
yeah yeah you know yeah you do and you
people know the difference between one
that’s done well
and one that isn’t because there’s we’ve
been in it too long now with websites
for people to know the difference
yeah all right well this section uh we
like to call
pro tips pro tips
and uh here’s the question and this
might be hard for you actually to narrow
it down but what’s one piece of advice
that you would give
to uh somebody who’s looking to get into
the laundromat industry for the first
time
i know okay can i well you could you go
ahead
you can both answer you can okay so
it’s it’s what david already said it’s a
broker with integrity
and somebody by the way that
knows something about the laundry
business you can’t find a broker that
sells
pet stores groomers i
i don’t believe i think you need to find
somebody that specializes in the laundry
industry and has
owned perhaps and operated one and knows
how to read a balance sheet
yeah and to somebody that can really
give you good advice i mean
that’s not to say that a broker that’s
brokering other businesses can’t be
helpful
but i really think you need to find
somebody
that knows the business and somebody
that’s got integrity
and that is not just trying to sell you
something they’re trying to sell you
something that is going to be
a workable business for you because some
people get into the laundry business and
they’re not entrepreneur i mean they
don’t have that spirit in them
they own they work for somebody else
that they get a paycheck
every two weeks yeah and as you know
jordan nobody knows better than you
it’s a whole different ball game yeah
and so that’s that’s what i would say
you can’t
you have to start point a with having
that expertise
is that what you were going to say well
is there any doubt
why do you think i married her so yeah
she knows what i’m going to say
well a vice versa vice versa at this
point
yeah nothing else just start with that i
could not agree more you know and
again i’ve i’ve mentioned this many
times we’ve talked about this but
my story would look so different if i
had
found somebody who was knowledgeable and
trustworthy
to help me get into the industry and i
didn’t
and it it cost me literally tens of
thousands of dollars
yeah a lot of emotional heartache
yeah no it’s true because you you take
your family with you down that journey
yeah oh yeah yeah you need to have a
broker that’s
that’s got integrity and good morals um
and will will not try to sell you it
yeah if you have a broker that’s trying
to sell you every laundry that you bring
to them
you better start looking for a plan b
and with another broker
somebody needs to be telling you that’s
not gonna be a good fit for you
yeah and i will say that we we’re very
lucky here we’re both in southern
california
and there are dedicated laundromat
brokers galore
around here but i do a lot of coaching
with
people all over the united actually all
over the world
which has been very cool but you know a
lot of smaller towns and smaller cities
even don’t have
any if at all dedicated laundromat
brokers and i would say
in that case find a good
third party you know like a donna and
david like
you know somebody who has experience in
the industry
who can help walk you through that
because the broker isn’t going to know
the finer details of what makes a good
laundromat
unless they have been in that industry
themselves
um so you know if if a dedicated broker
is not available find a good consultant
to help
correct while you’re here that’s that is
the key
because you have to start with the end
in mind and sometimes if you haven’t
owned the laundry before you don’t know
what that end is
yeah do you want to do fluff and fold
are you still going to work your
full-time job
do you want this to be and unless you
have somebody asking you those questions
you can’t make a good decision to buy
your laundry
exactly yes exactly well
that’s i mean that’s gold and that is
worth
it’s literally worth tens of thousands
of dollars that advice
i wish you would have shared it with me
jordan
well blame jenna had she met you you
know years earlier
than we could we could have been in
assistance to you
yeah well you know what i the way i’m
thinking about it right now at this
moment
is that that path led me to getting to
know you so i’m thinking jordan
that’s so nice that’s so sweet
what i got i have two more questions for
you the next question is
do you have one or two resources that
you would recommend
uh for laundromat owners to either help
them grow their business or help them
grow personally
do you have any favorite resources
i think that you want to network
so the more that you can network with
other
laundry owners you will develop a
wealth of information and that can come
through your equipment district
distributors
cla there’s a number of ways that you
can connect
with other laundry owners because you’ll
start hearing
a lot of their experiences the things
that work for them
things that haven’t worked yeah and you
can
learn an awful lot by just keeping your
mouth shut
and listening to what other people have
to say yeah
and so i think that that
anything you can do to connect
with other laundry owners that also
want to connect with you because it goes
both ways
they learn from you you learn from them
yeah and then there’s always
those that are interested
in the industry as a whole it’s not just
about i’m operating my two laundries
and that’s all that matters it’s more
about
the industry as a whole and how do we
promote it
in a positive way that everybody
benefits from
not just the owners but the end user
you know the person that comes into the
laundry why do they come into the
laundry as opposed to other
opportunities
so i think more than you develop those
relationships the more you can learn
yeah i mean we we still do it we still
have several people
um you know people that we’ve met
basically through building
a lot of these stores and um you know
we’ve got one person in particular
that i i call on a regular basis and
just check in with him and what he’s
doing
and he helped us get into the um start
our fluff and fold side of our company i
mean we obviously knew what fluff and
fold was obviously
but we were we were doing so many other
things that the operations side didn’t
really come into the
front until we stopped building so yes
very good advice david stark i agree
yeah yeah i i agree too and i mean
that’s a big part of why
we’re doing the podcast just yeah as a
you know a way to get to know other
owners here
wisdom from you guys and uh yeah
so beautiful beautiful advice well i
loved your podcast number
two david and i listened to that and
yeah we loved hearing that
yeah you’re you’re doing the right thing
to reach out to people you are jordan
it’s working
yeah well thank you and yeah dave mims
another all-star in the industry he
would
love to have him back on too so loved
his story
yeah and he’s doing cool stuff out there
in cincinnati so
yeah he is yeah good i’ll link to that
in case
you haven’t listened to it before well
my last question for you is
if anybody has a question for you or or
wants to
you know even just drop a note and say
thanks for being on the podcast
how can they best get in contact with
you well we’ve got
um through our website there’s several
ways they can email us
it’s um support at sparklinglaundry.com
okay um and you know we have an 800
number
they can call 800-960-1627
but the best place really is to go to
our website and they can
they can reach us directly from that
good and i’ll have a link to that
down in the uh in the show notes thanks
jordan
guys i i mean i literally i’ve been
looking forward to this conversation
for weeks since we’ve been planning it
we had dinner not that long ago
actually it was kind of a while ago now
yeah where the world went crazy
yeah um and uh yeah i know
it is crazy um but i’ve been looking
forward to it
i thank you so much for being on i can’t
wait to have you on for the part two
and hear the rest of uh rest of your
story because i feel like we’ve
barely only scratched the circle and uh
i just i can’t wait for me to hear more
of it and
and for everybody to hear more of it so
thank you guys for being on
really appreciate it okay jordan jordan
have a great day
all right you too okay thanks okay
bye-bye
absolutely incredible david and donna
stark
they are legends and man i
i i seriously i could talk to them all
day long
just listening to their stories gleaning
their wisdom
they are just they’re such genuine
people i really i love them and i love
that we’re doing a part two with them
because
i just i need to learn a little bit more
from them i need to hear a little bit
more from them and
i’m excited to do that next week on
tuesday so make sure if you haven’t yet
whatever podcast player
that you are listening to this on or on
youtube if you’re watching it there
make sure you subscribe and that way you
don’t miss
uh the next episode or any episode
because we have
awesome people coming on all the time
and we’re hoping to bring you
tons of wisdom that will help you find
financial freedom through laundromat
ownership
that’s the goal that’s why we do what we
do and that’s what we want for you
if laundromats are something that you’re
interested in so make sure you subscribe
and do us a favor leave us a rating or
review
just uh so that we can get better
for you we can bring you a better
podcast a better product
so that you can learn more and that will
be engaging for you and also just to
help other people find us so do us favor
and go subscribe leave us a rating
review
and man i can’t wait to hear the rest of
david and donna’s story
next week here on the laundromat
resource podcast
make sure you’re there every tuesday is
when an episode comes
out so look forward to that and we will
see you again
next week peace

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