A history of the company and a look at each division...
In 1931 Phil and Angeline Billoni founded Colvin Cleaners on Colvin Blvd. in North Buffalo. A tailor by trade, Phil specialized in tailoring with dry cleaning secondary. They were the only employees for years.
As business grew they moved in 1938 to a larger storefront in Kenmore and in 1943 they remained in the village by purchasing a building at 2375 Elmwood to house its plant and finishing operation. It remains the company headquarters.
Phil’s brothers, Tony and Sandy, joined the business in the 40’s and for years the Billoni’s accounted for the majority of the small work staff. Upon his retirement 32 years ago In. 1978 when Tony’s son, Paul, while attending Buffalo State College, moved into the business. The sons and daughters of all three brothers grew up working in the business but Paul was the only one to make it his career.
“When I became involved, there were seven employees and four were family,” explained Paul, whose mother, Josephine, became the company’s business manager. Today, Paul is president of Colvin Cleaners and Colvin Draperies. His wife Cyndee is vice president of the company. Educated at Geneseo State College to become a schoolteacher, Cyndee chose to work with her husband for the past 25 years.
Colvin Cleaners employs 45, many with more than 15 years experience. Paul’s uncle Phil and Aunt Angeline, in their 90’s and reside in Florida. Paul’s parents and Uncle Sandy have passed.
“The business is a passion of love with a great deal of pride in continuing a tremendously successful family business,” Paul said. “We have a great family name to uphold and we are all looking forward to celebrating our 80th anniversary in 2011.”
Colvin Cleaners has full and part-time employment opportunities available for men and women, from high school students to those retired, who wish to return to the workforce. Applications are available at the store in Kenmore or on-line at www.colvincleaners.com. Click employment opportunities and follow the directions. Drug testing and physicals are part of the pre-hiring process.
Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) at the front counter greet the company’s guests, who come from Buffalo, Kenmore and surrounding communities with their items to be dry cleaned or laundered. The CSRs can process same day service if the items are in by 11 a.m. weekdays. Usually, the guests return in three days, usually seeing the same CSR.
“Because each guest who walks through the front is our most important customer, we realize their time is precious so every one of our managers can assist the CSRs when we are extremely business. We want our guests in and out of the shop in minutes so they can continue their errands or get to work on time,” Paul explains.
Currently, there are 12 full and part-time CSRs working from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. weekdays; 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Requirements for employment include the ability to type 30 words per minute since all invoicing and retrieving a customer’s items are done on computers.
“We hire men and women with a smile, dependability and they must possess a great attitude. They also must be open to continuous learning because we are always training quality customer service.
There are three full-time tailors in the tailoring department. They offer all major and minor repairs and in-house fittings of suits, dresses and all outfits for customers. “We began with tailoring in 1931 as the primary aspect of the company,” Billoni explains. “Today, we continue to offer expert tailoring as one of our featured services with dry cleaning, shirt laundry and drapery and all window finishing take down, cleaning and re-hanging as our primary business opportunities.
Inside “the plant” Paul has renovated several times with the most up-to-date equipment in the industry is the hub of the company’s quality service. It is where spots are professionally removed, everything is cleaned, finished (pressed—both by machine and by hand), assembled, packaged and racked for pick up and delivery.There are 15 employees in production and the qualifications are: dependability, good health (they work on their feet all day), good attitude and a willingness to learn. The Green Earth cleaning system begins at 4 a.m. and the remainder of the production staff starts at 6.
There are five drivers on the residential and business route service providing Colvin Care at your home or office.
The pick up and delivery of clothing, draperies and other garments twice a week has become quite popular in the past five years. With monthly statements and many guests automatically with their credit card on file, a driver may never meet his customer.
Call 873-2952 to begin the service.
The company’s route service began with Paul’s father, who was the only driver for 35 years. Paul, Mike and their younger brother, Tony, all drove the route once they received a driver’s license. “It has always been part of our business,” Paul said. “It was what our dad used to teach me and my brothers the importance of customer service, a trait all three of us have used throughout our careers.”
Drapery, Window Finishing Service
Four full-time professionally trained technicians and several on-call techs take down and re-hang draperies, blinds and window treatments in residential homes and business offices and buildings throughout Western New York and for some corporate customers with locations throughout the state or out of the state, they will travel to complete the job.
Fire, Flood, Disaster Restoration Dry Cleaning
The most unique division of the company. When a home or business suffers a disastrous tragedy to their home or office in the form of fire, flood, furnace puff backs or sewer back ups, the Colvin Care Restoration team is there immediately to restore their clothes, leathers, suede’s, draperies and essentially, any fabric in the house that the service companies do not clean. Working closely with insurance and independent adjusters, along with service companies, Colvin Cleaners responds to calls throughout WNY and to Eastern Pennsylvania and Erie, Pa. )
There are 3-parttime and eight on-call technicians with up to eight trucks available. The company has an in-house ozone room to remove the smoke and musty smell from clothes, along with a secure warehouse to store the items until a family is ready to move back home, which could take up to one year.
“Our goals are simple,” Paul says. “Our management team has a firm commitment to drive and grow this company. We will continue to make strong environment statements as the industry continues to change the way we clean and care for our customer’s garments. We look at ourselves as the pioneer in WNY in the environmentally-save Green Earth cleaning process.
“The key to success in any business is you are only as good as the team around you.”
Colvin Cleaners offers tours to perspective job applicants, its customers and anyone else during store hours. Just ask a CSR for a tour of the facility, which covers two buildings in Kenmore. “We are very proud of our facility and customers are simply amazed once they see how their clothes are cleaned and finished,” Billoni concludes.