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    National Clothesline


Association of Wedding Gown Specialists meets in Jacksonville

Members of the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists (AWGS) met recently in Jacksonville, FL, to elect officers and discuss marke0ng strategies with wedding industry experts.

This time, there were two stops during the plant tour: one at Oceanside Cleaner’s plant (a 2020 CINET Global Best Practices winner), owned by AWGS members Mike and Amy Harris; plus a stop at the company’s remarkable, complete computer-programmed drop shop.

During the meeing, the group presented its 11th annual Jack Barth Memorial Award of Excellence to dual nominees for the first 0me ever: Greg and Margaret Butler of Dublin Cleaners in Columbus, OH. When AWGS President Kermit Engh presented them with the award, he noted, “The Butlers represent the heart of our association — family-owned businesses with a long history of both exceptional care for wedding gowns and community activity. When the Butlers joined the associa0on in 2007, they credited AWGS for tripling their gown business over the following year, but AWGS in turn has greatly benefited from their membership — not least because we truly look forward to the true pleasure of their company at our meetngs.”

Dublin Cleaners processes nearly a thousand wedding gowns each year and annually wins the cleaners category for Best of Columbus Weddings. The business was originally founded by Greg’s father as Hudson Cleaners in 1934. Almost 50 years later, the business was moved and renamed Dublin Cleaners in 1982.

Today, Brian Butler, Greg and Margaret’s son, is president and CEO of the third genera0on family business. The couple remain ac0ve in the business, primarily with wedding gown services. The Butlers are also involved in many community activities such as collecting toiletries for the Dublin Food Pantry, cleaning prom dresses for Fairy Godmothers, and suppor0ng the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, Lifecare Alliance/Meals on Wheels and the Community for New Direction.

In addition to honoring the Butlers, the AWGS conference featured a wide variety of educational sessions from expert speakers, including: Kirsten Oe Palladino, founder and editor of EquallyWed.com spoke about learning to use inclusive language and affirming values to better serve and market to the rapidly growing LGBTQ+ community; Trevor Allred of kenect.com demonstrated the benefits of marketing via text through a business phone number rather than a personal cell; and Francis Flair of Flair Consulting Group convinced the group that effective management of the customer’s experience can make price irrelevant.

Other presentations included: “Is Your Number One Employee (Your Website) Ready” by Tracy Arnee of Wedding and Party Websites, “Surviving the Pandemic and What Lies Ahead” by Kermit Engh of Methods for Management; “Documen0ng the Bride’s Gown” by Vikki Reed of Fashion Cleaners in Omaha, NE; and “Why and What to Blog” by Michael Astorino of Fabricare Cleaners in Norwalk, CT.

Re-Elected to office were: president, Kermit Engh; vice president, Gary Fine of Parkers Custom Clothing Care in Toronto, ON; and secretary-treasurer, Sharlene Thum of Five Star Wedding Gown Specialists in San Antonio, TX. Malcom MacGregor of Browns Cleaners in Oeawa, ON, serves as immediate past president and chair of the finance committee.

Incoming members of the board of directors include: Mila Mar0n of ArGown Preservation in Bentonville, AR, Michael Rowe of Shores Fine Drycleaning in High Point, NC, Angel Suarez of Rey’s Cleaners in Miami, FL and Heather Ziccarelli of Owl Cleaners in Piesburgh, PA. For more informa0on, visit www.WeddingGownSpecialists.com.