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70 years later, family business still suits
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Business - November 2018

01 Nov 2018

Business - November 2018 Image

70 years later, family business still suits

By David Schout

As an industry, dry-cleaning has survived several challenges in recent times.

Relaxed workplace dress codes, shifts in fashion trends and even Melbourne’s smoking bans has meant suits and garments need less attending to.

And it’s been tough on business.

“It’s a funny industry,” David Hudson, general manager and third-generation member of the family-owned Master Dry Cleaners, said after his company recently expanded into Docklands.

“Casual clothes are more accepted at work now. Even going to the races – you can wear chinos and a shirt rather than a full suit. That impacts us,” Mr Hudson said.

“One of the big ones was in the ’90s, when they removed smoking inside pubs. That impacted the dry cleaning industry big time, because you’d wear your suit to work, go out for a drink on a Friday night and everyone would get home and stink. Then, you’d have to get your suit dry cleaned regularly.”

Forecasts, however, aren’t all doom and gloom.

The adept businesses in the sector have learned to diversify their services.

For Master, this has meant an investment in its pick-up and delivery service, something David describes as Master’s biggest growth area.

And if any business is adept at riding the waves of change, it’s the Hudson family.

David’s grandparents started the business in Werribee in 1948, where the family offered a trusted service.

His father then took over the company aged just 21 and, with his uncles, grew it to having (at one stage) 13 retail stores in Melbourne.

One of five children, David had no plans to carry on in the family business when he embarked on a marketing degree.

But after travelling and returning to some unfulfilling jobs, he found himself back in the fold.

Four of the five siblings now work in the business, with the outlier being David’s younger sister who works as a paramedic.

Master now operates out of six Melbourne stores, with Docklands being the newest addition.

David said a “really good opportunity came up” in the area, which he describes as “booming”.

Like in Werribee, where “every second person knows the Hudsons”, he wants the business to become a known, trusted store in the area.

“We want to get involved so people know our story, and can put a face to the business. So I’m trying to work on that because community engagement is really important,” he said.

With his marketing and sales background, David focuses primarily on business growth while his siblings work in operations and production.

“I get the work, they do the work,” he said with a laugh.

“That’s pretty much how it works. It’s a good balance because we’ve all got different skills. Our business is set up so we can utilise our best skills.”

“You need that. If all of you can only do the work, then your business isn’t going to grow.”

Master Dry Cleaners is now open at Shop 3/837 Bourke St (next door to the post office). For more info, visit masterdrycleaners.com.au

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