The Cleveland Clinic laundry operation has long been a crown jewel coveted by Evergreen Cooperative Laundry, which along with Evergreen Growers
and Evergreen Energy Solutions makes up Evergreen Cooperatives, a nine-year old employee-owned company.
As Brett Jones, executive vice president, told us last year
, Evergreen was mission-driven from the start, and continues to be, but it's also a business proposition. It can't depend on the goodwill of major clients alone; it has to demonstrate that it's a profitable and sustainable operation with a diversified portfolio, and it has, so that no one contract is a make or break proposition for any of its three divisions.
"What we've done is try to keep the percentage of revenue from anchor institutions at about 25%," Jones told us. "It's part of what leadership has done, keeping a healthy balance, looking at anchors but also securing other revenue so that when people look at us, we're not too dependent. If you only have two customers, that's a risk. So, in terms of spreading and growing revenue, the Clinic contract would be important for us, but every contract is important."
While the laundry division didn't exactly have the greatest growth potential before — "Laundry is four walls, there's only so much you can do; a greenhouse is a greenhouse, there's only so much lettuce you can grow," he said — that changes with the new Clinic development announced today.
Evergreen will not just be handling the Clinic's laundry, it will be taking over management and operations of the Clinic's laundry facility in Collinwood and adding 100 new employees to the cooperative. Between the three divisions, it currently has about 220 or so, 50 of those in laundry.
"This expansion validates the core idea at the heart of the Evergreen model—that businesses owned by workers can succeed and thrive in the market, helping close the wealth gap," Jones said in a statement.
The Clinic is likewise enthused:
"We are proud of this new collaboration with Evergreen Cooperatives because of the impact it will have on the local community," Ralph Turner, executive director of patient support services at Cleveland Clinic, said in a prepared statement. "We see this as an important step we can take to support the health and wellbeing of our neighbors, including the ECL employees."