Maurice and Trudy Klinke started Klinke Hatchery on Monona Drive in the early 1930s. Maurice Klinke, along with his father, Richard, built the original hatchery. During its heyday, this hatchery produced 125,000 plus baby chicks each week and shipped them to destinations from North Dakota to Indiana. Klinke Hatchery was one of the largest hatcheries in the Midwest.
Hazel Hoffer, one of our coin dry cleaning attendants, is weighing in an order for a customer. The Econo-Crest dry cleaning machines in the background were early forerunners of the modern dry-to-dry cleaning machines. Wearing apparel was put into the machine, soiled and dry, and if everything worked as planned, the clothing came out of the machine, cleaned and dry. This cleaning “by the pound” was a low-cost concept that from its inception was greatly applauded by our customers.
Maurice Klinke, with two of his attendants, in the new “Bulk Dry Cleaning” department. While coin laundries were relatively new in the mid-50s, bulk drycleaning was a brand-new feature in the 1960s. The concept was drawn up to be similar to customers using coin laundries. However, problems resulted when unknowing customers put mixed items in the dry cleaning machines and these items bled, shrunk and were so damaged that they became unwearable. The only alternative was to add an attendant. This person would weigh in the dry cleaning, sort the order, check the pockets, and then process the load. Back then, 10 lbs. of dry cleaning was $2.00. Although this was clean only, the price per piece was less than 25 cents.
Two of our key employees, Marion Fleming and Gladys Torke, were involved in our first Klinke Cleaners location at 4518 Monona Drive. At this time, our location included an in-house shoe repair station, a coin laundry, coin dry cleaning, and full professional dry cleaning services. All services were performed on site. A total of eight employees worked at Klinke Cleaners, not counting Maurice and Trudy Klinke, their son, Jim, and daughter Lois.
Alterations and tailoring were mainstays at our original location. Customers would come from all parts to be fitted by our expert staff. Although there were several tailoring shops in the Madison area, Klinke Cleaners was the first to have in-house tailors, available to the customers six days a week. Through the years, Klinke Cleaners gradually added to its list of serviceable household items. In this photo, Marsha Klinke is handing out draperies to her father-in-law, Maurice Klinke, for a drapery promotional ad. Currently, Klinke Cleaners cleans drapes, pillows, comforters, leather jackets and rugs.
Jim and Maurice Klinke in an early photo. New equipment was installed at our Monona Drive facility in a major plant renovation during the winter of 1971. This equipment included the pants topper (used for steaming out the waists of slacks) and the pants legger (used for setting the creases in slacks). All the equipment purchased was the latest in technology and made for a major improvement in employee efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Alice Walsvick, a longtime employee, is shown pressing shirts on our new, modern shirt-finishing equipment. A very dependable and quality-conscious employee, Alice took great pride in the quality of her work. The shirt-finishing process today is basically the same as it was 20 years ago. After washing, shirt sleeves are pressed on a sleever device which blows out the sleeve using air pressure, and then the sleeve is pressed on stainless steel plates. Collars and cuffs are then pressed on another unit before the shirt body is pressed on yet another piece of equipment. Lots of training and coordination are required in order to do a quality finishing job that the consumer will like.
Jim Klinke and Maurice Klinke are featured in the “American Drycleaner” industry magazine. The article talked about Klinke Cleaners fast growth into uniform rental. This facet of the Klinke operation was begun in 1974 by Jim Klinke and rapidly rose to national prominence. The company leased uniforms, mats, dust cloths, etc. to over 600 southern Wisconsin companies.
The first phase of drapery pleating by Marie, one of our garment finishers, is depicted. A great deal of care is taken in the handling of draperies. After the drapes are cleaned and pressed, the fabric is hung on a drapery pleating machine, with the pleats lined up, and a steaming of the pleats sets the pleats in a soldier-like row. This process is very time consuming but the results are well worth the effort. Marie examines the draperies before the final banding takes place. Note the exacting uniformity which exists in the finished product. Great care is taken in order to ensure evenness and balance.
Margaret Gross is attending to a customer in our very first drive-up window. With the growing business trend to provide quick and quality service, the addition of a drive-up window was a natural progression. Due to the instant success of this added service, drive-thru windows have been added to as many Klinke Cleaner locations as possible.
Care and proper garment maintenance are essential to the uniform rental business. Here, Ruth Struebing is attaching customer ID tags to work clothes while Dorothy Pierce, Jim Klinke’s mother-in-law, is checking a customer’s order in the Klinke Uniform Rental stock room.
Our original location in the 4500 block of Monona Drive is renovated to house the Klinke corporate cffices as well as rentable spaces. In the foreground are Jennifer and Richard Klinke, Marsha and Jim Klinke’s two oldest children.
The 1933 building is renovated into its current design. Monona Drive has seen several changes throughout the years and Klinke Cleaners has changed right along with it.
Madison Steam & Dye was founded in Madison around 1870 and was quite possibly Madison’s first dry cleaning facility. Through the years, Madison Steam & Dye has changed ownership as well as location. Originally, the facility was on Pinckney Street but was then moved to East Washington Avenue in 1959. The last owner of this company sold it to Klinke Cleaners in the early 1980s. For the first few years, Klinke Cleaners operated the establishment under its former name until converting it into the Klinke image in the mid-1980s.
As the 1980s ended and the 1990s began, Klinke Cleaners altered its entire focus to become a strictly customer-driven company. Deciding to no longer divide his attention, Jim Klinke sold Klinke Uniform Rental in the early 1990’s to devote his time entirely to Klinke Cleaners. Jim believed strongly that the company needed to expand by building locations rather than by using the existing route services. So Klinke Cleaners took a risk by eliminating the central plant and the delivery service in order to build several smaller facilities throughout Madison, each with the mission to offer Same Day Service, Monday through Saturday, on both shirts and dry cleaning.
1993 & 1994
In November of 1993, Klinke Cleaners constructed the Stonefield Shopping Center in Middleton and occupied one of the end spaces of the building. This new store replaced an existing Klinke location in Middleton near the old bowling alley. The grand opening was held in 1994.
Klinke Cleaners decided to leave its 14-year-old Fitchburg location in the Bowman Plaza to build a new shopping center just a few miles up Fish Hatchery Road. The new center, built on Cahill Main, is a much improved facility that is also more conveniently located for our customers. As well, this is the first Klinke location to use DF-2000, a new environmentally-friendly solvent which is also much more gentle on fabrics.
At the start of the new millennium, Klinke Cleaners undertook its greatest challenge to date—expansion into Waukesha County. Since the founding of Klinke’s Econ-O-Wash Coin-Laundry in 1958, the Klinke family never contemplated expansion beyond Madison. Now, however, expansion is the company’s next logical step.
In the first week of May 2001, Klinke Cleaners began demolition at 2110 E. Moreland Boulevard in Waukesha, Wisconsin, in front of the Westbrook Shopping Center. On this site we are building our newest location with a double drive-thru and the latest in dry cleaning technology.