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TITANS OF INDUSTRY


responsibility with an appetite for growth and that’s what continually drives and motivates us to invest in product, invest in acquisition or offices around the world in these emerging markets. The opportunity is still quite significant for us.”


The value-add Alliance’s presence and size ensures it can provide round-the-globe, round- the-clock service to its customers, says Pyle. Something that most competitors, particular those operating in the emerging markets, cannot match.


“If I’m a business owner and know


that Alliance has a field service manager 10 kilometres away so if, in the middle of the night, that piece of equipment has a problem I can make that call and they can be there, there’s a value in that. That’s what marks us out from someone that would just sell a piece of equipment. “When you talk about parts delivery, online tools and offering, when you talk in some markets about a financing option – where people can actually finance their equipment through Alliance rather than have to go to a bank, these are all things that help support our position. That’s the advantage of scale – some of our competitors can’t take that approach.” Part of that ‘approach’ is also about using local expertise where appropriate. “We keep a central oversight of brand, making sure that the brand stays consistent. However, all of the marketing execution is done locally. There are only a few things that are ultimately managed by the corporate entity, otherwise all our people live in those regions or are from those regions. We try to hold to the belief that the people in those markets are the market experts, not someone sitting in Wisconsin.”


That kind of strategic thinking comes from years of Pyle and his team studying the cyclical nature of the world economy and how that relates to an operator’s investment in equipment. Fortune, it appears, does indeed favour the brave. When many manufacturers


“Some of our biggest growth in the last two years has been in some of the most economically depressed countries in Europe”


began downsizing operations in European markets that were bearing the brunt of the financial crisis, Alliance began increasing their investment there. And it has paid off.


“Some of our biggest growth in the last two years has been in some of the most economically depressed countries in Europe,” says Pyle. “As an example in Spain, when the economic crisis first hit in 2007, 2008 other companies were pulling out, firing people, closing offices. We invested in the country because we’re in this business for the long term. To have a real growth opportunity we believe you have to have a balance in terms of investing in mature markets. You can’t leave those alone. You must have a certain amount of investment in what we call emerging markets and then you have to have some investment in totally developed markets.” In Spain, Pyle and his team saw an opportunity in the vended laundromat segment in particular. “We began to plant seeds, invest and have a local presence, and now, a few years later, we are able to offer a company financing option for Spain. As things have started to improve, we’re already seated there. We didn’t believe at the time that situation was going to last forever in Spain. Spain was going to come back. Italy is going to come back. Let me use a term we actually use in our business: it’s a ‘bounce back’, and it’s happened specifically within the laundromat segment. “Over the years, you know, there are economies that go up and go down, but the laundromat business model is an extremely sound one. When the crash first came along, we all were impacted. We did scale back in Europe and North America. But we did not cut so deep that we were >


A 100+ YEAR HERITAGE


Established in 1908, Alliance Laundry Systems’s beginnings in Ripon, Wisconsin, can be traced back to two local hardware store owners, Joseph Barlow and John Seelig, who believed they could increase the efficiency of the hand-powered washing machine they had purchased from a company in Kansas City, Missouri.


Barlow and Seelig founded the company that became known as Speed Queen, which would later evolve into Alliance Laundry Systems. The company’s wide array of equipment is used in laundromats, multi-housing laundries and on-premises laundries (OPL) under well-known brand names Speed Queen, UniMac, Primus, Huebsch, IPSO, Cissell, Lavamac and Deli. Alliance products are able to accommodate loads from 12lb to 265lb. More than 2,500 dedicated employees work in more than 1.4 million sq ft (129,600 square meters) of global facility space.


Based in Ripon, Wisconsin, and in Wevelgem, Belgium, the company has more than 800 Alliance partners, with an extensive worldwide presence. Priding themselves on the fact that “laundry is all we do”, the company’s credo is: “Our customers always come first. Customer One is our commitment to your profitability and success.”


Alliance Laundry is an indirect subsidiary of ALH Holding Inc, a portfolio company of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan managed by its private equity investment division, Teachers’ Private Capital.


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