Clean and Green
Entrepreneurs: Rusty Perry, 35; Noel Bennett, 37; Steve Madsen, 46; and Dave Askman, 43, founders of Revolution Cleaners in Denver
Description: An environmentally friendly dry-cleaning business
Startup: $750,000 in August 2003
2005 projected sales: $900,000
Spin cycle: In the dry-cleaning business, clothing is the name of the game, but Rusty Perry, along with his fellow Revolution Cleaners co-founders, is putting a spin on things by caring as much for the environment as for the fabrics he cleans. According to Perry, Revolution Cleaners stands out as the only dry cleaner in Colorado to use liquid carbon dioxide, an alternative to perchloroethylene, the industry's standard yet potentially carcinogenic cleaning solvent. Taking it up a notch, they also fuel their delivery trucks with biodiesel made from farm-produced corn, canola and mustard seed; their laundry bags and staff uniforms are 100 percent hemp; and they use quickly renewable resources like bamboo and cork in the build-out of their stores.
Pressed to serve: The founders keep the details of their business spotless, including the way customers are treated. With backgrounds in law, insurance and real estate, they were once frequent dry-clean customers themselves and had all too often been on the receiving end of poor service. "We almost invariably came away feeling used and abused," says Perry. "We're hoping to build a substantially different dry-cleaning business."
Talking 'bout a revolution: The team is hip, trendy and ready to iron out some wrinkles in the industry. They've met with investors to discuss expanding beyond their four Colorado locations, and they've also met with local politicians to work at getting initiatives passed. "There's a chance to clean up a really dirty industry and do the right thing," says Perry. "And we think doing the right thing is good business."