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Luna Laundry
By Cindy Bellinger
For The New Mexican
March 8, 2005

It’s a pretty simple business, what with picking up clothes, washing them, drying them and returning them. “If people want items ironed, we’ll do that too,” said Scott Ciener, owner of Luna Laundry.

After doing his bit in the world of high-tech from Hong Kong to Silicon Valley, Ciener is completely happy with how simple his business and his life has become. He opened up a panel on a broken dryer. “See? The technology in these machines hasn’t changed in 40 years. It’s pretty straightforward,” he said.

The success of his business will be straightforward, too, if it continues in the direction it’s heading. For customer Eric Stapleman, Luna Laundry is a godsend.

“Scott is fantastic. He’s reliable, on time and the quality of his work can’t be beat,” said Stapleman, owner of the restaurant, Trattoria Nostrani. “He also doesn’t make you sign one of those ridiculous contracts the larger linen companies make you do.”

According to Stapleman, who’s been in the restaurant business for 25 years, the large national laundry companies lease linens which “you pay for even if you don’t use them all.” With Luna Laundry companies can buy their own linens and pay for washing what they use.

Ciener said, “This means if a café wants to use green tablecloths during the winter and yellow ones during the summer, they can. They aren’t forced to use white all year if they don’t want to.” He also does laundry for spas, doctor and dentist offices, hotels and bed and breakfasts and anyone else who has a large amount of linens that need washing. He also is a diaper service.

When he and his wife, Anne Russell, wanted to leave California, they looked around for a less hectic place and fell in love with Santa Fe. And when Ciener, 39, looked around for a business to buy, a laundry business showed up in the want ads. He was one of 23 bidders, and got it.

The business has a rather long story. Years ago after the commercial laundry White Swan was purchased by Mission and moved to Albuquerque, Santa Fe was without a commercial laundry. Then two nurses began a diaper service. It went through several other owners until it finally ended up as Luna Laundry.

“What we’re trying to accomplish is a higher level of service. We do a better job at less the cost,” Ciener said.

He paid $20,000 for the business and ended up investing another $30,000 for new equipment. He says he was fortunate to have taken over the existing laundry facilities because the previous owners had gone through all the environmental hoops. Ciener didn’t have do. He could focus on growing his new business right from the start. Luna Laundry has five washers, two being 85 pound washers. The facility has the capacity to wash over 300 pounds and hour and dry 500 pounds an hour. One of his dryers can handle 125 pounds.

A large flat iron roller can iron a king size sheet or large tablecloth without folding. The pricing starts at 65 cents per pound to wash, dry, fold and wrap in plastic. Items Ciener cleans include sheets, towels, blankets, napkins, mop heads, chef coats—and just about anything other kind of linen. “One of our customers is the National Guard and right now we’re in the middle of doing some sleeping bags for them,” he said.

Located off Airport Road, the space is 2000 square feet and he inherited one employee and hired four more. “I’m lucky to have good people working for me,” he said. He also offered his fulltime employees benefits, but they all had medical coverage elsewhere so turned him down.

For people who live in outlying areas, Luna Laundry keeps a drop box outside the facility. “I get a few customers for personal laundry, but for the most part we’re focusing on commercial businesses,” Ciener said, adding, “This is the lowest of the low tech.” Just what he was looking for, and Stapleman is one customer that’s happy he found it.