Family owned and client first; the secrets to Arrow Linen’s success
Investments in technology, sustainability and efficient methods of operations are among the main things that sets Arrow Linen Supply Company apart from its competition in the greater New York City area.
Arrow Linen is a family-owned commercial laundry supply business founded in 1947 by Ambrogio Magliocco, who immigrated to the U.S. from Italy at the age of 17. It has built its reputation on excellent service that includes overnight delivery even for items dropped off by 5 pm the day before. Arrow primarily services the hospitality and restaurant industries from delis and pizzerias to high-end, white tablecloth fine dining options and banquet centers.
“We’re a supplier to food establishments throughout the tri-state region,” says Arrow Linen General Manager Anthony Magliocco referring to New York, New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania. It has customers from upstate New York to the Jersey Shore.
Arrow services not just linens but aprons, uniforms, towels, walk-off mats and more – anything that a customer in the hospitality industry needs can be cleaned.
The company has two facilities – one in Brooklyn which is more or less a distribution site, and one in Garden City on Long Island where laundry is washed. Its volume of business is significant, which is proven by the fact that Arrow has more than 225 employees from drivers to plant workers and operators. While it services a wide area, the majority of its business comes from New York City’s five boroughs.
Arrow Linen was first awarded the 2005 Energy Star CHP Award by the US Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy in recognition of the pollution-reduction and energy-saving features of the combined heat and power (CHP) system installed to support its facility. In the nearly 20 years since first receiving that award, owners have continued to invest in the business’ sustainability.
The company’s headquarters on Long Island includes a solar panel system installed several years ago. That system provides 15,000 kilowatts of power per week, covering up to 70 percent of the facility’s electric demand.
More recently Arrow Linen invested in a wastewater recovery system that allows it to reuse discharged water, filter it through osmosis technology and use it to reclaim heat and water. In fact, up to 75 percent of water discharged by the facility is reused in some way. “We feel it is important to know what is being put into our sewers and to understand how we can support environmental sustainability,” says Magliocco.
One of Arrow Linen’s most prominent current projects is the conversion to a new CRM and database management system. This will allow the company to match its energy efficiency with operational efficiency through online invoicing, automated customer communications and a streamlined accounting process. It will also allow Arrow Linen to further expand its market to new industries and expanded geographic areas.
“This is a major investment for us but one we know we have to do to meet the needs of our customers and employees,” Office Manager John Magliocco III says. It will also allow management to be more strategic in its sales and marketing efforts by providing data on customer preferences and purchasing trends.
Anthony says that ownership wants to market its services more effectively online through search engine optimization, pay per click campaigns, social media and other digital marketing efforts. This will allow the business to brand its benefits to new prospects within its target market, allowing it to scale. He says, “we have capacity at our (Long Island) location so it is a good time for us to be looking for new customers.” The belief is this emphasis on operational and marketing technology will keep Arrow ahead of its competition, making it less reliant on referrals, Magliocco says.
With such a large employee base, Arrow Linen relies on its team members to help identify local charities to support and finance. The company is involved with several charities every year, and its team members are active with multiple industry trade organizations for networking, sharing of best practices and more.
Perhaps Arrow Linen’s real secret is its employees and the dedication and commitment they offer. John says it is truly like a “team culture” where all employees are treated like family. He adds, “we succeed and celebrate together but we also work hard. We have many employees who have been with us for a long time.”
That was proven in the last two years during the COVID pandemic. Like virtually all employers, Arrow Linen felt the effect of the Great Resignation by losing some team members to retirement and job changes, but the vast majority remained on the payroll. This was true even while restaurants and food service companies were closed or had limited hours during the early months of the pandemic. By keeping most of its team members, Arrow Linen was able to provide the same level of service that customers have come to expect even while competitors were struggling to meet basic service needs.
“In some ways in the long-term (the pandemic) helped us because we were able to pick up some new customers and still (service) our existing ones because we always had enough staff to meet their needs,” Magliocco says. “It wasn’t always easy but we gained a reputation for being reliable for a whole new group of customers. We never had the level of issues some of our competitors had.”
Hiring for current open positions can remain a challenge, but Arrow Linen generally only has a handful of open jobs available these days. New employees who joined the team generally have stuck around because they saw opportunities for growth and building a successful career, Magliocco says.
Along with human capital challenges, supply chain shortages are an ongoing concern for Arrow Linen. Fortunately, the company has relied on partners like Zecron Textiles in Whitestone, N.Y. and fellow product supplier Regional Apparel to help ensure it had the linen products, uniforms and more to service customers. The supply chain may not get back to pre-pandemic “normal” in the near future, but ownership has found ways to find solutions through communications and relationship building. Anthony referred to the market as “tight but manageable” when it comes to product availability.
Perhaps one of the biggest keys is transparent communication with vendors but especially customers. Whether by phone, email or in person, Arrow Linen’s account managers are committed to providing product updates so that customers are not faced with an unexpected surprise. One example is that occasionally, a customer may be told that black napkins are not available for a few days but that gray napkins can be substituted until the black napkins are available, Magliocco says.
“It comes down to being transparent with your customers,” he adds. “Just be honest with them and they appreciate it.”
Arrow Linen has capacity for growth with its two current locations, including its Long Island plant. Owners are also keeping their eyes open for interesting acquisition opportunities in the New York region but will manage any expansion carefully.
The future for the company is about investing in technology and anticipating and servicing industry trends, Magliocco says. It purchased an automated seal machine that allows team members to easily wrap merchandise in plastic rather than doing it by hand, thereby increasing efficiencies while reducing errors. The company will consider any strategies designed to improve automation while keeping capital costs down, although training current staff on using such technologies will be important.
As part of its focus on technology, recent and future improvements and investments should allow Arrow Linen to become more adept at taking orders online and customizing merchandise, Magliocco says. He also believes restaurants and food service companies are spending more of their marketing dollars online and with social media. To that end he says, “that’s where we want to be, on those same platforms our customers are, and finding ways to make their jobs easier.”
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AT A GLANCE
WHAT: Commercial Laundry Supply Business
WHERE: Long Island, New York
Zecron Textiles, Inc. – www.zecron.com
We were established in 1983 as direct importers and distributors of Institutional Textiles, primarily to the Linen Rental Industry. Our attention to service and quality has made us an industry leader. Since 1986, we are proud of serving ARROW LINEN SUPPLY, The Premiere Linen Rental Company in New York. Please use our website www.zecron.com to get detailed information about our products. Call us at 800-5229294 for any questions you may have or request a catalog. We are looking forward to working with you!
Mazars – www.mazars.us
Mazars USA LLP is an independent member firm of Mazars Group, an international audit, tax and advisory organization with operations in 90+ countries. Since 1921, in the US, we have delivered services across a wide range of sectors in strategic geographies – with seamless access to 28,000+ professionals around the world.
NRG Energy Inc. – www.nrg.com
At NRG, we generate electricity and provide energy solutions and natural gas to millions of customers through our diverse portfolio of retail brands. A Fortune 200 company, operating in the United States and Canada, NRG advocates for competitive energy markets and customer choice, working towards a sustainable energy future.