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Aladco Installs New 'Green' Washing Machine

Andy McKeever

Aladco contracted local companies to retrofit the 19th-century building to more energy-efficient technology.

ADAMS, Mass. — Aladco is the latest business to go green.

The linen company installed a new $700,000 washer expected to reduce water usage by 84 percent. The company tore out the equpment it had been using for 50 years and retrofitted its  19th-century Commercial Street building for the modern technology.

"It's really cool to see an old building get a third or fourth life," Kevin Ellingwood, the company's public relations spokesman, said. "This has been in the works for a year or so."

The Pulse-Flow washing system replaces four washing machines that held 400 pounds of laundry each with a conveyor belt system. Every three minutes, workers load 50-pound batches onto the corkscrewlike belt. The batches then go through the various steps of a wash.

"It took them a little while to get efficient using the machine. Workers used to just load it in and go get a coffee or something," Ellingwood said. "It will result in significant savings."

Previously Aladco used 10 washing machines that used 2.5 gallons of water per pound of laundry, using 1.5 million gallons of water per month. The new system uses .4 gallons of water per pound – reducing the monthly usage to 250,000 gallons. Additionally, the less water used, the less gas and electricity are required to heat it.

Berkshire Gas contributed a $50,000 rebate to Aladco for the project.

"The projected savings for this project of over 67,000 therms and nearly 1.7 million therms over the life of the equipment, are impressive, to say the least. To put this into perspective, the annual savings from this one project equates to the amount of natural gas needed to heat approximately 70 homes per year," Michael Sommer, manager of energy services at Berkshire Gas, said in a press release.

According to Ellingwood, Aladco is the first hospitality linen rental facility in the nation to make the change.

Additionally, Aladco recently introduced three new eco-friendly products: a lint–free microfiber wiping towel, microfiber mop system and the Environap, an alternative to disposable napkins for the same cost.

The company provides table and kitchen linens, bed linens, uniforms, entrance mats and dust control to restaurants, hotels, motels, hospital, medical service providers and schools and colleges.

More information on Aladco here.

Tags: Adams, Aladco, Green, Energy      

Powder Shield Looking for Business

Staff Reports

An example of Powder Shield's work.

ADAMS, Mass. — Reports of Powder Shield Technologies' closure are a bit exaggerated, says Joseph White, operations manager.

An assertion had been made at the North Adams City Council meeting Tuesday night that the shop had closed and tossed 25 people out of work.

White, who answered the phone on Wednesday with the buzz of equipment in the background, said that wasn't exactly true. "We didn't close," he said. "We kept one part of the shop open."

The 25-year-old company uses an electrostatic process to lay a powder, rather than liquid, coating over metal products. It also does pretreating, custom work, sandblasting and related work. It was one of the largest operation of its kind in New England.

When business was good, some 35 people were employed at the Howland Avenue facility. But, like so many other small businesses in the region, it's been undercut by cheaper work out of China and has seen orders drop off. White estimates about 75 percent of the company's regular customers have defected to China.

It most recently employed about a dozen people and there was talk of shutting down the operation. White's trying to persevere with some part-time help until things look up.

"I'm trying to build the business along with [owner] R.J. Scullin," said White. "We still have the production line, we still have the ovens. We're trying to find the right direction."

That includes an energy audit to help cut down on costs and more aggressive marketing to build a base of loyal, local customers. But he's been running into a problem.

"I've been really marketing for two weeks and people say to me, 'I thought you were closed,'" said the Adams native. "We're still here, we still exist."

Learn more about Powder Shield's capabilities by contacting White at 413-743-0022 or joe@powdershield.com.


Tags: Powder Shield, China, Adams      

South Adams Exposes Retail Clients

By Tammy Daniels

The employees of South Adams Savings Bank will put your shirt on their backs if you're a customer.

ADAMS, Mass. — If everyone at the South Adams Savings Bank is wearing a promotional T-shirt, it must be the first Monday of the month, when the bank quite visibly takes care of business.

The bank's found a way to help its commercial clients by offering free advertising. The concept's simple: Provide a space for business clients to showcase business cards, brochures and fliers. Then pick one to be featured for a whole month on the South Adams Web site.

The dividend: You can't buy that kind of advertising.

"Oasis Liquors was the first one we featured," said bank President Charles O'Brien. "They were being complimented just about on a daily basis."

Businesses were a bit shy about jumping on board, said O'Brien and Amy Giroux, senior vice president of retail banking, but soon saw the benefits. The promotion's only been going a couple months but the number of businesses participating has doubled with 35 featured during April. "Good buzz goes around," said Giroux.

The idea was hatched by a member of the Taking Care of Business committee, a group of bank employees who discuss ways to aid customers. In addition to space in the bank for advertising, the workers don promotional garb as well.

The promotion not only helps get out the word about businesses doing business with the bank, it also helps other bank patrons connect with its retail customers. The bank also has branches in Williamstown, Cheshire and Lee.

"We're really happy to provide this benefit to our customers," said Giroux. "It's such a spot-on idea and it doesn't cost anything."

This month's featured business on the Web site — and on the bank's Facebook page — is Bedini & St. Pierre Building and Maintenance Contractors. Look for a new business May 3.

If you're interested in becoming a featured business, contact tcb@sasavings.com.

Tags: South Adams Savings, Adams      
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