When Gordon Craig first began washing clothes for a job he used his hands and a 10-litre stainless steel bucket filled with water.
Now, 40 years later, the veteran of Taranaki's laundry and dry cleaning scene has a machine that can wash 35 tonnes of dirty clothes a week and his La Nuova business and Apparel Master franchise employs more than 50 people.
"It was a temporary job at first. My old man had a dry cleaning business. I was between jobs. I told him I would help out but really he was helping me out. And I never left," Craig says.
Except for a couple of times, which the father and son team managed to resolve amicably.
The laundry business has changed quite a bit since he started. Synthetic fibres and gentler household washing machines kneecapped the dry cleaning industry, which Craig said was suffering from a decline in national dress standards that reduced the need for suit, shirt and tie cleaning. "It's gone way down. Until 10 years ago I never wore jeans. I used to wear a tie to work every day."
There has also been a change in the way he works. Instead of working for his old man, he is the old man with son Brad the latest generation to join the family business.
To adequately mark his four decades in the textile cleaning business Craig was presented with what may be New Zealand's largest coat hanger - a 2.7 metre-high construction made up of hundreds of normal-sized coat hangers by Steve Molloy from Korver Molloy Gallery.
"It's something a little bit different," his son said. "The old man has always been difficult to buy for."
- Taranaki Daily News
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