The Dry Cleaning Master

As you have probably read in the Editorial, Rocky Point has a new dry cleaning business, Biosfera. I never imagined that an interview for dry cleaning could be so interesting but when you get the chance to chat with Eugenio Arturo Villegas Romo (Arturo), his enthusiasm for his business rubs off on you.

    Arturo, as he is called and his wife, Ana Laura spent over 1½ years investigating the dry cleaning business before deciding to set up Biosfera. Born in Naco, Mexico, Arturo spent some time in Chihuahua working and studying but has spent most of his life in Caborca, where some of his family, and many friends reside. After the death of his father, he had an opportunity to start a new business. Having friends in the dry cleaning business and seeing a need for such a service in Puerto Peñasco, he and his wife spent the next 1½ years gathering information, calling on friends and going to shows and demonstrations all over Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and Mexico to try and decide if this would be the right business for them. Arturo had no previous experience in dry cleaning but his friends and business associates lent him their experience and knowledge of over 40 years. With information from friends, conventions, demonstrations and the first International Convention, “Lava Expo” in Mexico, Arturo and Ana Laura realized they were making the right decision.

    Next came finding a building and stocking it with the necessary equipment and employees to make it a success. When Arturo went looking for a building for Bisofera, he thought about renting but decided that they needed to buy a piece of land where they had enough room to expand and could make changes as necessary. Arturo took his neighbors into consideration when selecting a location. He wanted to be sure that the noise from the machines would not have ill effects on the neighbors and that the chemicals he was using would in no way effect the environment. He also wanted to make sure that his neighbors would not experience a decrease in water pressure due to the increased demand of Biosfera. (He gathers the water in the wee hours of the night and stores it in tanks so the neighbors see no difference.)

    Arturo told me that he is very concerned about the environment, not only the environment but the whole biosphere – hence the name Biosfera. He took great care in selecting his dry cleaning chemical. He said that most cleaners in the U.S. use a chemical called Perk and he was all ready to buy a big machine that used Perk but upon further investigation he felt that the chemical would put his family and employees in danger of getting cancer due to the aggressive nature of the chemical and them being exposed to it day after day, as well as it not being good for the environment. Perk is cheaper than what they currently use but Arturo feels the safety of his family, employees and the environment far out weight the cost-factor. EXXOL D-40, the chemical he currently uses, also allows him to work on more delicate items such as animal skins, appliqué, beaded gowns, hats, shoes and boots. He has also worked out a disposal system with his supplier: when an order for new chemical is placed, the old chemical is returned to the supplier and disposed of properly. (Arturo’s concerns are well founded since his wife had just given birth to a baby girl, Ana Victoria. The couple also has two boys, Guillermo who is 4 ½ years old and Eujano who is 2 ½ years old.)

    Arturo says the clothes that are brought to Biosfera for cleaning go through a multiple-check system to ensure the customer complete satisfaction. As I approach the counter, Esmeralda takes my clothes and checks them for stains, rips, tears, loose buttons, etc. She asks me if there are any stains or anything they should be aware of. I point out a grease stain on a sweater and she takes a look and then writes me a receipt listing all of the items I brought in along with the prices and tells me when to come back to retrieve my clothes. Esmeralda then takes my clothes over to a table behind the counter where they are again checked for stains I may have not reported or missed or a number of other things she has been taught to look for. At this table the items are tagged with color coded tags to ensure that my order stays together and I get all of my pieces back. If anything is noticed at this stage, such a loose button or stain, they phone the customer to let them know they found something. At that point they may suggest a manner of treatment or they may be able to repair whatever the problem is such as a loose button. During these checks they also look for ornate buttons, appliqué or anything that may require special attention. They don’t just accept clothes and hope for the best. Arturo says he wants the customer to be completely satisfied and if it means working on an item over and over again, they’ll do it.

    The clothes are then bagged and taken to the back where they are separated by colors, stains are treated and given one last look under flourscent light before they are put in the dry cleaning machine. If anything at this stage is found, the customer would be called whereupon Arturo may suggest a manner of treatment and/or ask the customer what they wish. An example was an oil-splattered blue leather skirt on the table. The methods of dry cleaning currently used may not have gotten the oil stains out but Arturo said that they had just returned from an expo in Mexicali where they discovered a new process which allowed them to work longer on leathers without damaging the leather or color. With this new process they could treat the stains over and over again until they were finally removed.

   After the clothes have been approved for cleaning, they then go into the dry cleaning machine which uses a mixture of solvent and steam to clean the clothes. In their back room there is a large machine that produces steam for the washers and dryers: One line makes the steam and sends it to the machines and a return line brings the water back and reproduces the steam. Also in this back room are large washers and dryers and they have a 50,000 water storage tank in the event that there is a problem with the Rocky Point water supply. (The stored water is put through a filtration system to remove sand, minerals and impurities.) After the clothes are washed they are dried in steam or gas dryers, ironed and wrapped in plastic. If a stain is found at any of these latter stages, the clothes are sent back for reprocessing or the customer is called, depending on the severity of the problem.

    Arturo takes great pride in his work as do all of his employees in fact he considers them more as family than as employees. He knew starting out, not having any experience in dry cleaning, he would need to find experienced personnel. Efrain, who is considered their “Magic Man” and is the heart of the operation has 15 years experience in dry cleaning. He and Martin worked together in Caborca for 7 years and all were friends before they came to work together. Arturo says that the success of Biosfera is 75% personnel and 25% machine. He said the machines will clean the clothes but it takes the team players and the combined experience they have to produce the final product. The Biosfera team includes Arturo and his wife Ana Laura, Efrain, Rosa, who is Efrain’s wife, Martin and Esmeralda who has been studying business administration. Arturo hired Esmeralda to help with the business end of it but Rosa has been teaching her the ropes to help out at the counter since Ana Laura has taken time off for their new baby. Arturo says that he is getting a great response from his Mexican and American customers and has found it necessary to spend a lot more time behind the counter at Biosfera to help his increasing American clientele.

    Biosfera is in the process of setting up service for all hotels and motels in the Rocky Point area. Anyone that is a guest will be able to get same day washing and dry cleaning service from the comfort of their hotel room. This, of course, applies to residents as well. Biosfera is able to clean a wide variety of items such as comforters, blankets, down jackets, leathers, suedes, animal furs, hats, boots, shoes, purses, beaded gowns, baseball caps and just about anything else you can think of. They also offer regular laundry service and perform magic on removing stains from every day clothes. The sooner you bring a stain to be removed, the greater the success is. Arturo asks that you report all stains and problems with articles brought in so that they can better serve you.

    Biosfera is located on the corner of Adolfo Ruiz Cortinex and Cuauhtemoc #20. The easiest way to get there is to take the main blvd., Benito Juarez, north and make a left on Constitucion. Go to the street past the Hotel Paraiso del Desierto, make a right and go 2 blocks. Biosfera will be there on the corner – big blue building painted with bubbles – can’t miss it. They are open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM and offer one day laundry service (in by 10:00 AM) and also one-hour express service.

    It was a pleasure to interview Arturo and meet his crew. I will never look at dry cleaning the same way. If you have something that needs laundering or dry cleaning, don’t hesitate to go to Biosfera – Arturo speaks great English and goes the extra distance to make his customers feel welcome and produce an outstanding end result. You can reach them by phoning (011-52-638) 383-3929.


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