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OAQDA helps 100-year-old family-owned business plan for the future
Mount Vernon (Knox County)

“My grandpa started this business in 1922 and it’s been family owned and operated by three generations over the past 100 years,” Jim Gault, owner of Gault’s Cleaners, proudly conveys. “We’ve employed hundreds of people in three different counties in Ohio throughout the years. We’ve contributed to local schools, churches and civic organizations, and if you get right down to it, OAQDA’s support has ensured that this legacy and community support will continue.”

As many in the dry-cleaning business know, the chemical perchloroethlene, more commonly known as PERC, became the go-to chemical for dry cleaners in the 1950s and, unfortunately, is still widely used today. OAQDA has been helping businesses like Gault’s make the transition to cleaner, more environmentally friendly chemicals through CARC.

The Authority closed on $85,120 in bond financing and awarded $17,024 in grant funding to Gault’s in 2020 for the purchase of new dry-cleaning equipment that complies with the federal Clean Air Act to benefit employee health and the environment.

“We discovered the negative impacts of PERC and had been trying to identify a better solution that would be healthier for our employees and customers and better for the environment,” said Gault. “Through OAQDA, we were able to replace our machinery with new equipment that uses a safe hydrocarbon solvent. We have always had high standards for our business and now we can safely handle more types of garments than ever before, which gives our customers even better quality and service.”

Many dry cleaners have gone out of business and decreased sales dramatically since the pandemic, and Gault estimates the industry demand overall is down about 80 percent. “The dry-cleaning industry has struggled from COVID-19, but the financial support from OAQDA made our upgrades possible at this time,” says Gault. “We are now much better positioned and feel confident that the great legacy my grandfather established 100 years ago will continue on well into the future.”

The CARC process is one Gault would recommend to other small businesses.