Over the years, its owned-and-operated laundromats have gone by such brand names as Launderland, Sudz and the most recent brand moniker, SpinCycle Laundry Lounge. Its modern laundromats are known for up-to-date fixtures and finishes, energy efficiency and positive patron experiences.

In addition to developing state-of-the-art retail laundromats and selling them to independent operators, PWS is the nation’s largest distributor of laundry equipment and parts for laundromats, commercial laundries and multifamily landlords. Financing and brokerage are additional components of the PWS business model.

Market indicators

“My business partner, Brad Pollack, is a second-generation owner and we both see an incredible opportunity to accelerate the development of new laundromats,” Steinberg says. What would make this a good time to look at this business type? According to Steinberg, the factors include a growing cohort of renters, who of course comprise the largest segment of the self-service laundromat business. Another is the availability of opportune retail real estate locations, especially given the failure of many retailers this year. Given the decline in many commercial property owners’ fortunes during the pandemic, some owners may offer greater flexibility to cover cost of build outs.

From landlords’ perspective, the benefits include steady demand for operating businesses on the part of eager entrepreneurs. Laundromats are also long-term, stable tenants, and their steady business can bring substantial foot and vehicular traffic to shopping centers.

Despite the freshly-washed lingerie known to emerge from laundromat washers, there’s nothing sexy about this business. Still, Steinberg finds it hard to fathom a more pleasurable career, or a more dependable business for a neighborhood shopping center. He says they are stable, consistent performers operationally. They are resistant to recession, virus and Amazon. And they are a magnet for local traffic, he asserts.

A Los Angeles baseball fan, Steinberg recalls leaving his home hours before first pitch at Chavez Ravine, a move letting him and his partners “touch all the bases” along the way. “We would leave for a 7 p.m. Dodger game at 10 a.m., so we could stop at 20 laundromats on the way to the stadium,” recalls Steinberg, who spent part of his career in investment banking. “As much as I loved banking, this was always my true calling.”