July 2011 Volume 2, Issue 3

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July 2011 Volume 2, Issue 3

Gill Korb can still remember the horse and buggy days

when he was a young boy helping his father in the

laundry business. Pearl Laundry & Cleaners has been owned

and operated by family since it was started by Gill’s grandfather,

Daniel Korb, in 1896. The business first began in Evansville,

Indiana as The Rust and Korb Laundry Company; now it is in

the fifth generation of the family. Gill Korb still works at the

plant each day; he represents the third generation of family.

Bernie Michel (Mr. Korb’s son-in-law) and Andrew Michel (Mr.

Korb’s grandson) represent the fourth and fifth generations.

8 Universal-UniLink Purchasing Association

Pe a r l la u n D r y & Cl e a n e r s

Pearl Laundry & Cleaners has

embraced many changes through

the years, “from horse and buggy

to modern delivery trucks,

steam power to electricity, hand

statements to computer billing,

cash to credit cards.”

A Story of Family History & Dedication to Business

There are many changes that have occurred in the business

through the years, from operating practices to machinery. Mr.

Korb recalls some of the significant differences. According

to Mr. Korb, all the employees were paid in gold when the

business began in 1896. He can “remember his grandfather

going to the bank with a suitcase and returning with gold to pay

the employees.”

He also recalls using a horse and buggy to deliver laundry;

this delivery method was very slow, so deliveries were limited to

the Downtown area. In the 1930’s Mr. Korb’s father purchased

a Model-T Truck, and business increased because they were

able to expand their delivery area. In the 1940’s many supplies

were rationed from the war. He explained that tires for delivery

trucks were one of the most difficult items to purchase. Mr.

Korb states, “I had a soap salesman that lived in Chicago, who

would bring used tires for us to use on our delivery trucks.”

Even though changes have occurred during each decade,

Pearl Laundry still utilizes some of the same equipment today.

They still operate their utility presses from 1945. Many of the

modern technological advances have increased the speed and

capacity of the business; the introduction of flatwork ironers,

automated machines, and washer extractors has significantly

allowed the business to grow.

Pearl Laundry & Cleaners has

remained competitive in the market

throughout the years because they

provide such diverse offerings.

Currently, they offer dry cleaning,

commercial laundry, residential

laundry, embroidery, and screen

printing services. This wide variety

of services has enabled them to

remain successful throughout the

years. Mr. Michel explained that

it is difficult to predict how the

economy will affect each segment

of the business. He states, “It is rare to have all areas of the

business low at the same time, so you can transfer help to other

areas of the business.” This diversification is demonstrated by

Pearl Laundry’s uniform rental business that was operated from

1983-1993. Instead of discarding this segment of the business,

they used their knowledge to open an embroidery service. This

allowed them to expand their business to a wider customer base

and eventually open a screen printing business.

Mr. Korb realizes that his forefathers had to work hard to

keep the business thriving, which has led to the company’s great

work ethic today. Mr. Michel and Mr.

Korb explain they “can always count

on family and you can always trust

them.” Their family has remained

successful because they have the

knowledge of every aspect in the

business and they have a strong work

ethic. Mr. Michel states, “You have to

do anything and everything to survive

in business. If someone is absent, then

you have to be able to fill in for them

that day.”

The first three locations of Pearl

Laundry & Cleaners are shown.

In 1912 the business moved to

the current location in Evansville,

Indiana.

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