Dependable Laundry Equipment & Superior Customer Service Sets IPSO® Distributor Apart
Since 1980, Atlas International has been a leader in providing dependable and efficient IPSO® commercial laundry equipment for vended laundromats and on-premises laundry (OPL) operations in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. As a family-owned business, they make it a priority to treat their customers like family, assisting them through every step of opening and maintaining a profitable business. From the initial lease negotiation, equipment mix recommendation, laundromat design and construction advice and determining the best marketing strategies, Atlas International acts as a true business partner for their customers.
THE BEGINNING OF ATLAS INTERNATIONAL
Atlas International's founder, Avner Wolanow, never expected to be a business owner in Dallas, Texas. Born in Israel, Avner moved to the United States at the age of 16 with his family. As a teenager and young adult, soccer was Avner's true passion and he earned a spot on the United States Men's National Olympic team in the early 1960s. Following his professional soccer career, Avner began working as an electrical engineer, and attended night school to obtain an electrical engineering degree. Upon graduation, however, Avner realized that he did not want to continue working as an engineer because the job contracts frequently shifted from one opportunity to the next - he wanted more stability.
"I worked hard as an electrical engineer, and learned a lot at school and on the job, but I did not like moving from one job to the next. I needed something that would be more consistent and provide a steady income," Avner recalls.
Avner looked for job opportunities in the electronic industry until he "stumbled into the laundry industry." He took a job as a sales manager for a manufacturing company that sold industrial laundry equipment and spent his days teaching laundry dealers how to use the equipment and run a profitable laundry business.
With his background and experience, Avner began to realize that he had the potential to run a successful laundry distribution business of his own. With the encouragement of his wife, he decided to apply his knowledge of the industry and commercial laundry equipment into opening his own business. Due to his frequent travel to the area, Avner knew that Dallas would be a good market to open the business. It was not an easy decision, but in 1980, Avner decided to leave his family in Long Island for six months so that he could move to Dallas to get the business started before his family joined him.
"Through my experience in sales, I had a strong understanding of the industry and from the time I spent in Dallas, I knew there was a need for a distribution company in the area to provide top-of-the-line equipment to support existing and new vended laundromats. I knew that if I worked hard the company would thrive," Avner shares.
THE RIGHT COMMERCIAL LAUNDRY EQUIPMENT
In order to start a successful distribution company, Avner needed to work with the best laundry equipment manufacturer. From his previous experience, Avner was familiar with the equipment available and chose IPSO because of its high quality. He knew that the durable IPSO machines outperformed competitors and would help customers run a successful vended laundry business.
"When working with a customer who is deciding what equipment to use, we recommend IPSO from the beginning. The equipment is made to last and works efficiently. Everything runs smoothly and our customers are very satisfied with the equipment," Avner says. Over the last 35 years, Atlas International has grown to become a prosperous IPSO distributor. With 12 employees servicing three states and over 2,000 customers, Atlas International provides superior customer service and equipment.
Atlas International customer Robert Horton began working with Atlas International in 2010. As a retail developer, he was looking for a business investment that would bring in a stable income given the economic state at the time and he turned to Atlas International when he made his decision to invest in laundry.
"When I was opening my laundromat I wanted the best equipment and large-capacity machines, and Atlas International recommended IPSO," Robert shares. "I could not have been happier with my choice of equipment and my customers were also satisfied. Atlas International taught me how to operate all of my equipment and was a quick phone call away if I ever had any questions about the machines or any other aspect of the business."
EXPANDING THE BUSINESS THROUGHOUT SOUTH CENTRAL UNITED STATES
Atlas International is always looking for the perfect location for a vended laundromat. Whether it is an existing building or empty piece of land, Atlas International will conduct research on the demographics in the area to make sure there is an opportunity to turn a profit. If the demographics are appropriate, Atlas International will find the right customer to invest and help with remodeling or building a laundromat from the ground up.
"People will always need to wash their clothes; the question many people have is where they are going to do it," Avner says. "By finding the right location, and providing top-quality IPSO equipment, my customers are able to provide a service to the community that attracts new customers."
As Atlas International searched for new opportunities to open laundromats and partnered with more customers, the vended coin laundry business was growing. The expansion of the vended laundry industry ultimately led to the growth of Atlas International to serve customers in three states in the South Central region of the United States, including Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.
"When Atlas International was still a new company, laundromats were changing throughout the country to look more modern to match the innovative equipment. It was an exciting era for vended laundry and having state-of-the-art equipment attracted new customers to Atlas International," Avner shares.
In addition to finding the right location for a laundromat and providing superior equipment, Atlas International wanted to expand their services and began helping customers build their laundromats.
BUILDING A TURN-KEY LAUNDROMAT
Atlas International is known for building beautiful and efficient stores, and will work with customers to design and build a store no matter what their unique needs may be.
Atlas International often works closely with a construction company to develop a complete turn-key laundromat operation, which means they design and complete the build of the store, and then have an investor step in to acquire and run the business. When an investor steps in to acquire a turn-key laundromat, Atlas International educates them on many different aspects of the business, including machine operation and price-setting strategies. They will also provide recommendations for potential deals and discounts, which can be programmed through equipment technology, to help attract customers during slower periods of business.
Even when Atlas International does not develop a turn-key laundromat, the company supports their customers through the planning and construction by providing professional design services, recommending the right equipment mix and helping with the equipment installation.
Ten years ago, one Atlas International customer, Floyd Bates, was looking for a new business investment as he approached retirement. His son was a real estate agent in Dallas and had some knowledge of the laundry industry and opportunity it provides to turn a profit. They found the right location to open the store and after researching equipment, they chose IPSO.
"We knew we wanted IPSO equipment because it is durable and made to last for many years. Choosing IPSO led us to Atlas International," Floyd recalls. "Atlas International helped design and build our store from the ground up. We worked with them to help create the look and feel of the store, including colors to match the local high school mascot. They helped with everything we needed to get the store up and running."
Atlas International also provides ongoing counsel to further develop strategies to grow the business, such as advertising or running special discounts.
A NETWORK OF SATISFIED CUSTOMERS
Atlas International will also help all of their customers finance the business operation by connecting them with IPSO Finance. As a lender in the laundry industry, IPSO Finance has a strong understanding of the industry and knows the nuances involved in acquiring and running a vended laundromat. They are able to work with a customer, whether they are a first-time investor or multi-store owner, to develop a customized payment plan that meets their individual needs.
"The dependable IPSO equipment has helped create successful businesses for my customers and sets their laundromats apart. IPSO Finance has made it possible for my customers to equip their laundromats with some of the best equipment on the market, which ultimately helps them achieve a return on their investment," Avner states.
"Atlas International knows the business in and out. They made the best equipment recommendations and provided great advice and input when I was getting started in the industry. If it weren't for their guidance and continued support, I may not have the successful business I have today," Floyd says.
At Atlas International, each employee's priority is the customer. Atlas International helps customers become self-sufficient and comfortable with the services their business provides. Providing top-notch customer service ensures that all of their customers have everything they need to run a profitable business.
"I can't say enough good things about my experience working with Atlas International," Robert shares. "I've been in the retail development business for more than 30 years and there is only a handful of people like Avner and everyone else at Atlas International. They truly had my best interest in mind to help me open and run a profitable business."
When a customer has a question or needs assistance Atlas International responds immediately to ensure everything is handled efficiently and the customer's business is not affected. Atlas International also supports customers with more complicated service issues over the life of their equipment. Whether it be in-person assistance or part replacement needs, Atlas International can let each customer know the exact timing for when his or her needs will be met. This has helped maintain their customer relationships and overall satisfaction over the last 35 years.
"Whether a person is a first-time investor or has been in the industry for many years, I like seeing my customers succeed, and am thankful I chose to open Atlas International. I never could have dreamed of the business it has become or that I would have the opportunity to help thousands of people throughout Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana run lucrative businesses," Avner says.
In 2015, Avner sold Atlas International to his cousin, Israel "Ulli" Mandelbaum, who has been with the company since 1984 in various positions. Starting as a technician, Ulli is now president of the company and is most capable to guide Atlas International using the same principles that made the company the success story that it is today.
To learn more about how IPSO can help you get started in the vended laundry business and to locate a distributor near you, please contact us or visit our distributor locator.