The history of Puritan Cleaners is testament to the strength of the family that runs the business.
Cardinall Dacosta, general manager of the laundry and dry-cleaning service, stresses operating his company is a family affair.
One son, Jason, is the assistant manager and the other son, Mowbrey, is the operations and maintenance manager.
Their support of each other helped them through the trials of Hurricane Ivan to the point where they were able to purchase state-of-the-art equipment in mid-March to improve their business.
Puritan is also opening a second retail outlet in West Bay 23 April.
The new dry-cleaning equipment is from the US and required a technician to come to Cayman for five days to provide training on its use.
Mr. Dacosta explained the advantages of this new machine over his older model.
‘It has a larger capacity – 60 pounds compared to 44 pounds of clothes – it’s faster and it automatically cools the dry-cleaning chemicals to prevent dyes in the clothing from running,’ he said.
He purchased the machine as part of his continuing commitment to providing quality service, he added.
Puritan counts among its customers hotels, condominiums and the general public.
Customer convenience appears to be high on the agenda. The new outlet, at Centennial Towers, will be open to serve people early in the morning and late in the afternoon, Mr. Dacosta said.
The opening hours are 6 am-11 am and 4 pm-7 pm, Monday to Saturday.
Puritan also runs an outlet on Elgin Road, which the family was able to reopen in March after extensive rebuilding.
Their Strand and Elgin Road stores were both destroyed during Ivan, he explained, and the Eastern Avenue plant was extensively damaged.
‘The whole east side of the plant was gone. Most of our cleaning supplies were lost,’ Mr. Dacosta said.
Despite all the damage, they lost a relatively small amount of their customers’ clothes, he said.
Father and sons worked hard after Ivan and were able to reopen the plant mid-October. Their customers then came directly to that building for service.
They also run a laundromat on Mary Street, which they were able to reopen by mid-September, with the few washers and dryers that remained running on generators.
‘So many people wanted our services, but we could only take one load from each person. We were operating with only about a third of our equipment,’ Mr. Dacosta said.
Staff at the laundromat worked two shifts, covering 7 am to midnight, to accommodate their customers. At that time, a curfew was in place.
‘We needed special passes from the police. We had to advise the police of how late we’d be on the road taking our employees back, and getting ourselves home,’ he said.
There are still not enough machines to reopen the self-service part of that operation, he added, explaining that he was waiting for his insurance payout.
‘We are in the process of biting the bullet and going out of pocket to restore the laundromat to the proper operating standard so the public can be accommodated,’ he said.
Despite the setbacks, Mr. Dacosta and his family have come a long way since the industry’s humble beginnings.
‘When we first started, it was all done by hand,’ he said.
Mr. Dacosta worked for another dry-cleaning company five decades ago, and travelled in from Savannah for four years, earning £4 every month.
Eventually he bought the business he was working for and proceeded to automate the dry-cleaning process and add a commercial laundry. Puritan has been operating since 1958.
‘We are in the process of biting the bullet and going out of pocket to restore the laundromat to the proper operating standard so the public can be accommodated.’