STEUBENVILLE - The way Tony Corella sees it, to be the best you have to be willing to buy the best.
So Corella, owner of Two Brothers Dry Cleaning at 606 N. Fourth St., recently plunked down a hefty chunk of money on a new shirt unit, the Unipress, because it's made in America.
The fact that it was judged best of show at the Clean 2011 trade show was just icing on the cake.
BIG INVESTMENT — Two Brothers owner Tony Corella says his new shirt unit, the Unipress, was “a big investment for a small business,” but one he said has allowed them to process far more shirts while at the same time giving their customers a better, smoother press. - Linda Harris
"Since we bought the bigger unit, we're able to do far more shirts," he said. "We can do almost double what we did before, and the quality is way superior to what we were getting off the old one."
Corella's company motto is "A Strong American Company," and he tries as much as possible to make sure he buys American from the soaps he uses to launder clothing to the machinery that allows them to work in bulk.
"So much of the stuff here is made in America," Corella said as he weaved his way through the racks of freshly cleaned suits, shirts and jackets waiting to be claimed by their owners. "I try to get as much of it as I can, even the soaps we use for laundry and the dry cleaning (agents). Anything we can get that's made in America, we do."
Since the Unipress was installed at the beginning of October, he figures they've done about 7,000 shirts. Though not the numbers shops post in bigger cities - Corella said one of his friends does "500 or 600 a day" - that's still a pretty significant number. Best of all, he said, is that his numbers are growing. "We're doing more and more, our volume's up."
And in an industry that's been shrinking, that's good news.
"We're one of the few (shops) that actually does shirts in-house," he said. "We do most of our dry cleaning in house."
Corella also has a seamstress working on the premises, "which is something nobody else has."
"That's something we're trying to do, offer the services people need in a comfortable location," he said, adding customer service remains a high priority.
He said they also test their cleaning processes monthly to gauge how well it's all working.
"We believe in high maintenance, we want to keep clothes looking great," he said.
Corella bought the business in 1984 with his father's help. A fire in 2005 destroyed the original shop, which is when they acquired the 4,000-plus-square-foot building on Historic North Fourth Street.
"It took us about a year to reopen, but business has been increasing" since the move, he said.
A Steubenville native, Corella is active in the Grand Theater Restoration, Steubenville Revitalization Board and the advisory board at his alma mater, Franciscan University of Steubenville.
"I truly believe in my hometown," he said.
"This was a big investment - a big investment for a small business, but I thought it was worth it over the life of the business. I want to see this business carry on, even after I'm gone."
Two Brothers is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and closed on Sundays.