superior linen service nears 60 years in tulsa  

Tulsa Business & Legal News Article


December 20, 2013 | Tulsa, OK | Jessica Turner jessicat@tulsabusiness.com

Entrepreneurship has been seen throughout Tulsa’s
history, and Superior Linen Service is a 
product of early Tulsans’ desire to take business into their own hands.

Heading into 60 years, Superior Linen Service  started
in 1954 as Industrial Uniform and Towel Supply by Irving Waldman in Downtown Tulsa. After expansions, acquisitions and significant business decisions,
Superior Linen Service now has one corporate office, three divisions and five branches that are lead by third generation president, Douglas Waldman. 

Waldman took over as President in 1996, but he did not always want to be in the family business. Growing up, he worked in the business, but did not return until 17 years later after college. He is now the only active member of the family in the company.

Over the years, Superior Linen Service has moved into Kansas, Arkansas and Missouri and created another branch Oklahoma City. Waldman said that the growth was not exactly planned, but a lot of the growth was from going into different areas where they knew they could find a market for their full service linen company.

Some of the growth was from acquiring other linen service companies. “This industry has been dominated historically by family businesses and independent companies. What happens over the years is the founders of companies have figured out how to make a transition to another generation or they don’t figure that out when they get ready to retire…”, he said.

Their growth has gotten them on Inc. Magazine’s Top 5000 fastest growing private companies in 2010 and 2012, but Tulsa remains their home with a corporate office on East 12th Street and their Western Division in the Pearl District. 

In Tulsa, one might go to a restaurant or visit a hospital and notice tablecloths and napkins or bed sheets and scrubs. These textiles that people see in the industries of hospitality and healthcare are most likely not owned by the restaurant or hospital. They are owned and rented from linen service suppliers like Superior Linen Service. “For them to do this themselves, it takes a ton of space that no restaurant, and no hospital has. It takes a ton of cost because they have to go buy the product, and they can’t do it as inexpensively or hygienically clean and as energy efficient as I can,” said Waldman.

The full service company has three service specialties; hospitality, healthcare and facility services. They supply 3,000 businesses on contract, and around 500 is in the Tulsa area. Waldman said that healthcare is their largest service right now and that Hillcrest and St.
John’s are a two of their healthcare clients.

Superior Linen Service is proud of their accreditations they have received that reflect their hygienically clean technology and services, like the Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council (HLAC) and the TRSA Clean Green Certification.

Like many companies with older history, marketing is key to staying connected to customers and current industry trends. Superior Linen Service recently has gone through a re-branding project headed by Director of Marketing and Communications, Ashley Tosh. 

As the first in her position, Tosh joined in January of this year and found that there were multiple versions of the logo around. Motivated by a company survey, they chose to completely start fresh with their newest and current logo. 

The branches of the company make this re-branding process slightly harder. “Re-branding takes time, especially when you have a company that’s spread out into different 
states with different vice presidents and branch managers. It’s hard to get everyone on the same page and really get rid of all the old logo material and roll it out at all at once,” said Tosh. Along with a new brand, Superior Linen Service also launched a new website, www.superlinen.com this September that's equipped with company information along with fun staff profiles. “We wanted to be a company that’s really connected with our customers and show who we really are.  I think that’s what makes customers really trust a brand is to see that behind-the-scenes, funny stuff. We wanted to show personality.” she said.

Their personality blends with their full customer service to create that company-to-customer
connection that they strive for. Despite their multiple divisions within the company, Waldman said he wouldn’t describe Superior Linen Service as a large company, but they are on the verge of growing out of their “small business” label. That also causes them to make financial  decisions towards their re-branding process. Tosh said that so far the parts of the business that customers see have been given new logos, like their employee shirts. They will look to continue their re-branding efforts going on into next year.