What One Old Uniform Company Knows…That You Don’t

growth strategy example

Jim Wasserson thinks about uniforms all day long. More than 100,000 of them. As CEO and President of Clean Rental, Wasserson, whose grandfather founded the company in 1918, is a born-and-bred expert on what makes uniforms unique, memorable, functional, clean and comfortable.

Sounds simplistic? Not when you consider the fact that Wasserson are clothing professionals for more than 10,000 clients in industries ranging from pharmaceutical and industrial to medical and consumer, plus utility. Chances are, if you see a person on the job in the Philadelphia region, they may be sporting a Clean Rental uniform. In fact, Clean Rental supports clients within a 200-mile radius of its Center City headquarters, and partners in deals nationally and in Canada.

Originally providing coveralls to factory workers, Clean Rental has come a long way in its first century. Today, the company specializes in larger customers, mammoth businesses with sizable bases of employees wearing uniforms. For the past three decades, the size of Clean Rental has doubled every five to seven years, servicing many Fortune 500 businesses.

How has Clean Rental survived – and thrived – for nearly a century? Wasserson shares four growth strategies that have carried his once strictly coverall company since 1918.

Be Flexible. Be Proactive. Be Engaged

The company offers industry experience, fresh ideas and an open approach to customer service that asks clients ‘What are your uniform needs’ as opposed to saying ‘You must fit into our mold’ which, as Wasserson is quick to point out, is an important distinction.

Whether service, industrial or professional wear, Clean Rental’s hallmark is its fresh and flexible approach to delivering its services. Clean Rental serves a variety of industries, including food processing, chemical and safety, service industries, manufacturing, hospitality and gaming and healthcare. Wasserson shares:

“With the tremendous consolidation out there in the corporate world, we have had to adjust and be prepared for anything. To be proactive, we have to be very creative in our thinking and ready to take risks.  We have to be very agile and come up with plans to be ready to engage all scenarios all the time. We don’t run from situations that may require us to be extremely flexible. We engage those situations – 100 percent. As we all know, it is a very heavily changing business environment right now and has been for a while – the flexible, proactive and engaged business will survive.”

Establish & Maintain Customer Trust

Clean Rental prides itself on being the uniform rental and cleaning services leader with solutions that fit:

“We are in an industry where our main target accounts are large and, when working with large companies, Clean Rental is superior at remaining flexible and building true partnerships. We establish, early on, a trust level with our customers and that enables us to service them immediately and make adjustments as necessary – we are always focused on making clients happy by being flexible and delivering seamless transitions.”

What’s the biggest thing Wasserson can advise?

“Always, always listen to the needs of your customers and fulfill their needs. Always, always, always listen to your customers. “

Change With The Times

When Clean Rental was founded nearly 100 years ago, it was all about coveralls for factory workers. Today, a uniform is not just simply a uniform anymore:

“A uniform can be a blue shirt with blue pants, scrubs or a tuxedo. When working with our clients, we often say to ourselves, ‘What would we want to wear to work every day’ if we worked here?'”

In many ways, Clean Rental is evolving to be more of a workplace clothing company versus a uniform company:

“That is where we are trending now. We are a flexible company, we change with the times and we change to meet and exceed the expectations of our customers, as well as their taste in workplace clothing.”

Changing with the times, Wassserson advises, means growing with the times.

Embrace Technology

Clean Rental relies on state-of-the-art water softeners, soil-release technology and extra-large water heaters to deliver a truly sanitized, hypoallergenic cleaning service to its diverse clients, many with careers in the hospital and biomedical fields.

When it comes to Clean Rental’s cleaning expertise, how important is technological adoption?

“Technology is extremely important, no matter what business you are in – you have to run to technology, not avoid it. In the uniform rental industry, I would like to think, with all of the merits and successes of Clean Rental since 1918, what we may be best known for is our technology. Regardless of your business or market, investigate how the latest technologies available to your business may boost productivity, improve customer service and leverage your business for the long haul. The business that fears technology is the business that gets overtaken by change.”

Uniform Photo via Shutterstock


Chris Miles Chris Miles is Founder and CEO of Miles Technologies, an award-winning IT, custom software, web design and online marketing firm in Moorestown, New Jersey. Miles Technologies in 2013 developed business by MILES, a Web based business operations platform designed to support all business functionalities. Miles is an expert in IT and business solutions.

2 Reactions
  1. Thanks Chris,

    This seems to be a company that gets it.

    They’re flexible enough to satisfy their customers, and smart enough to know how important it is to be flexible.

    The Franchise King®,

  2. These days, engagement is no longer an option. It is a must. It is a must if you want to stand out and be remembered by your customers. It is also a must if you want them to choose you from the rest.