Busi­ness is clean­ing up

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By Colin Camp­bell and Natalie Sher­man cm­camp­bell@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/cm­camp­bell6

Up To Date Laun­dry work­ers, from left, Doris Monge, Gladis Ramos and Clau­dia Cam­pos are among more than 400 em­ploy­ees work­ing at the com­pany’s South­west Bal­ti­more plant. The com­pany, which serves many lo­cal health care providers, plans to dou­ble its ca­pac­ity at an East Bal­ti­more lo­ca­tion and dou­ble its work­force as well.

Up To Date Laun­dry, a Bal­ti­more-based com­mer­cial laun­dry op­er­a­tion that cleans sheets, doc­tors’ scrubs and other linens for many of the area’s ma­jor health care sys­tems, plans to dou­ble its ca­pac­ity and even­tu­ally its em­ploy­ment with a new fa­cil­ity in the Hol­lan­der Busi­ness Park next sum­mer.

The 70-year-old com­pany ex­pects to hire 100 new em­ploy­ees of var­i­ous skill lev­els when the Pu­laski In­dus­trial Area lo­ca­tion opens in July 2017, and an ad­di­tional 300 over the first five years of op­er­a­tion, of­fi­cials were to an­nounce to­day. .

“We’ve been here a long time; the city’s been good to us,” said Mark Carter, Up To Date’s pres­i­dent. “By ex­pand­ing in East Bal­ti­more, that’ll bring more jobs to a com­mu­nity that des­per­ately needs jobs. I think that’s re­ally, at the end of the day, what’s im­por­tant.”

Aside from call­ing it a mul­ti­mil­lion­dol­lar in­vest­ment, the com­pany de­clined to say ex­actly how much it is spend­ing on the new 79,600-square-foot fa­cil­ity. The pro­ject is be­ing fi­nanced by Re­vere Bank and the Johns Hop­kins Health Sys­tem’s Hop­kin­sLo­cal ini­tia­tive. The Bal­ti­more Devel­op­ment Corp. is lend­ing $300,00 for cap­i­tal im­prove­ment as well.

The new fa­cil­ity is ex­pected to in­crease the firm’s laun­dry ca­pac­ity by 72 mil­lion pounds per year and speed up turn­around for its clients, which in­clude Johns Hop­kins Health, the Univer­sity of Mary­land Med­i­cal and MedS­tar Health sys­tems. The com­pany serves 37 hos­pi­tals, as well as doc­tors’ of­fices, surgery cen­ters and nurs­ing homes.

Up To Date cleans more than 60 mil­lion pounds of health care linen each year for hos­pi­tals across the re­gion, mak­ing it one of the largest health care laun­dry ser­vices on the East Coast, of­fi­cials said.

On Wed­nes­day, whirring con­veyor belts and em­ploy­ees whisked hun­dreds of pounds of laun­dry, la­beled by hospi­tal, around the firm’s cur­rent fa­cil­ity near the In­ter­state 95 over­pass on Desoto Road in South­west Bal­ti­more. Even with many op­er­a­tions such as fold­ing mech­a­nized, the sheer quan­tity of laun­dry the com­pany pro­cesses re­quires a work­force of more than 400.

It is one of the only lo­cal fa­cil­i­ties ac­cred­ited and cer­ti­fied to ser­vice hos­pi­tals and other med­i­cal cen­ters that have ex­tremely high hy­gienic stan­dards, said Corey Blan­ton, se­nior ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of sales and mar­ket­ing.

Up To Date didn’t al­ways wash hospi­tal sheets. Its laun­dry ser­vices orig­i­nally catered to an­other of Bal­ti­more’s gi­ant in­dus­tries: the port.

Then-owner Wil­liam Stair Sr., fa­ther of cur­rent owner Nancy Stair-Carter, op­er­ated the com­pany for years as a rapid laun­dry ser­vice for ships that came in from New York and Vir­ginia.

The com­pany made the jump to allmed­i­cal laun­dry in the 1960s, Blan­ton said.

In the past 10 years, hos­pi­tals have em­braced out­sourc­ing of ser­vices like laun­dry as they cope with changes to re­im­burse­ments and con­sol­i­date, said Linda Fair­banks, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the As­so­ci­a­tion for Linen Man­age­ment.

Bal­ti­more City Coun­cil­man Bran­don M. Scott, whose dis­trict in­cludes the Hol­lan­der Busi­ness Park where the new fa­cil­ity will be lo­cated, said the an­nounce­ment is a sig­nal of the area’s re­vi­tal­iza­tion.

“I wel­come any­one who wants to open a busi­ness in the Pu­laski In­dus­trial Area,” Scott said. “Any­time some­one calls me and says they’re look­ing for an in­dus­trial place, that’s the first place I sug­gest.”

KEN­NETH K. LAM/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

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