When Salomon Mishaan was a boy growing up in Colombia, he used to go to work with his father on Saturdays. There, in the family business, he learned the art of crafting yarn, weaving it into textiles and creating garments. Over the years, Mishaan worked his way up in the business, eventually become a managing director.
Then his career took a different path, with a move into the plastics industry in Venezuela. Mishaan eventually became president and CEO of Polifilm, which manufactured automotive parts, food wrap and other plastics.
In 2000, he moved to the United States, and Mishaan’s career pivoted again, when he saw a way to revolutionize the dry cleaning industry.
“I had seen the advancements in dry cleaning in Europe and South America, but in the U.S., it was like the stone age,” he said. “There was no innovation.”
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Mishaan started with an ATM that dispensed dry cleaning 24/7, an eco-friendly cleaning process that didn’t use harsh chemicals, and a hand-ironing system that did away with diesel-powered steam presses.
The idea was pretty revolutionary in 2001.
Mishaan opened OXXO Care Cleaners in Hollywood in 2001 after researching the concept and designing the equipment.
“American culture is to want everything 24 hours a day, so I wanted a 24-hour ATM” that could accept clothing drop-offs, as well as dispense cleaned items to customers, he said. Customers use a card with a magnetic strip, similar to a credit card, to retrieve clothes that are bar-coded at drop-off.
OXXO also was an early adopter of the earth-friendly cleaning movement, and began using GreenEarth cleaning solutions when the eco-friendly company was first starting out.
“When we opened in Hollywood, people would drive from West Palm Beach to use us,” Mishaan said.
The first franchise opened in 2003, and there are now more than 50 locations. About 35 are plant stores, which offer on-site cleaning and a 24-hour pickup system, and about 15 are drop stores, which offer 24-hour customer access, but no on-site cleaning. In 2018, OXXO Care Cleaners will open its first fully automated unmanned unit where customers can drop off and pick up cleaning and laundry by themselves 24/7.
Mishaan said he is very conscious of environmental impact. One improvement was eliminating diesel-fueled steam presses in favor of an electric hand-pressing system that is more efficient. Future plans are to use solar power at all locations.
“We are very quality-oriented,” Mishaan said. “We care about the people we serve, and we care about the environment.”
Company name: OXXO Care Cleaners
Founder and CEO: Salomon Mishaan
About Mishaan: Born in Bogotá, Colombia, Mishaan began working in his family’s textile business, Miratex, when he was a boy. He gradually worked his way up to a managing director. Mishaan also worked in the plastics industry, and served as president and CEO of Polifilm in Venezuela. He still serves on the boards of both Miratex and Polifim. Mishaan also holds a bachelor’s in marketing and finance from the University of Miami.
Business launched: 2001 in Hollywood. The company’s original location at 1874 N. Young Cir. is also the site of its corporate headquarters.
Offices: Corporate offices in Hollywood, and a sales office in Short Hills, New Jersey. More than 50 franchises in Florida, New Jersey, Texas and Indonesia.
Numbers: $15 million in annual revenue for 2016, a 20 percent increase over 2015. OXXO opened 10 stores a year in the past three years. Cleans 200,000 suits a year. Averages 500 garments per store each day.
The difference: 24-hour ATM dry-cleaning drop off and pickup. Eco-friendly dry cleaning solutions and processes, including GreenEarth — a sand-based solvent originally created for shampoos — instead of the widely used chemical perclorethelyne, a carcinogenic. Hand-ironing garments with electric presses, rather than diesel-powered steam presses.
Clients: Prada, Nespresso, Navarro Discount Pharmacies, Hyatt hotels.
Competitors: Tide Dry Cleaners and Martinizing Dry Cleaning, both national, franchise-based chains; Sudzy On-Demand Laundry in Florida; and mom-and- pop stores.
Number of employees: Fifteen at the corporate office in Hollywood, and more than 200 in franchises.
What’s new: In May, the company launched a mobile app that allows customers to track the status of their orders and receive coupons, among other functions. The app is being rolled out store by store and is currently being used by 10 South Florida stores. In June, OXXO announced its partnership with Dersa, a leader in Colombia’s laundry space and producer of Top Terra ecological laundry detergent — marking the detergent’s introduction to the U.S. market. OXXO also actively uses Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and other social media platforms to promote its services.
Outside view: “When the clothing comes back after being cleaned, it doesn’t smell like it came from a dry cleaner, it smells very natural,” said Shani Chin, manager of Prada in Miami’s Design District. “They know what luxury service is, and how to care for their customers.”
Worst mistake ever: “Listening to franchisees who wanted to quickly open a store, even if the location didn’t serve our demographic,” Mishaan said. Despite that, OXXO has a 95 percent franchisee success rate, with only three store closures, he said.
Best decision ever: “Going green, because when we started green it was not a big trend,” Mishaan said. “Now it has opened doors, because we are allowed in locations that other cleaners are not.”
Biggest challenge: Finding strip-mall locations that serve the company’s high-end, white collar demographic.
Strategy: “Sometimes when you develop a concept, you try to economize. We didn’t economize, we stuck to our guns, going with a more expensive solvent and machinery,” Mishaan said. “Now we are getting the payback.”