By Erik Harris
For The Tribune
TRUSSVILLE — Several days a week Alex Yearout rises early to leave his home in Hoover.
He makes the 30-minute commute, leaving his wife and two small children behind at 5:30 a.m. in order to fire up the equipment needed to operate a 12-hour day of dry cleaning.
Yearout is a manager at Complete Cleaners in Trussville.
From unlocking the doors to heating up the machinery, Yearout tees up Patterson’s company for a dawn until dusk operation that cleans and presses the laundry of many Trussville households.
Patterson has built a fast, easy drive-thru business that prides itself on friendly customer service and economically efficient labor that he’s stood behind for nearly 20 years.
“We hope that you never have to be here for five minutes when you do a transaction here,” Patterson said.
Complete Cleaners, which currently employs 23 workers, offers same-day service and has recently added a delivery aspect that gives customers three options: to become a member of a route that will stop by their home twice a week to pick up and deliver dry cleaning; to place call-in orders; or to drop off the material at one of the two Trussville locations and have it delivered back to their home after cleaning.
“Anything that’s dropped off in the morning can be picked up that afternoon if it comes in before our typical cut-off times,” Patterson said.
The original Complete Cleaners went up in November 1994 where the Mazda dealership currently stands off U.S. Highway 11. Patterson took the 3,000 square-foot convenience store building, put a covered drive-thru up front and started the business, which was operated by himself and five employees.
In 2001, after moving to a new location, Complete Cleaners became one of the first 50 Green Earth cleaners in the world. Green Earth cleaning is a silicone-based process that lacks the hazardous chemicals of traditional dry cleaning.
“The Green Earth process uses silicone, which is composed of sand and water and C02 and is much safer for both our employees and the environment,” Patterson said.
In addition to its safety benefits, Green Earth is more fabric friendly than previous methods because of the reduced friction.
Complete Cleaners erected its second location in 2005. Patterson wanted to move it further north, as that was the direction Trussville was expanding at the time. This store currently produces roughly 30 percent of the company’s revenue, according to Patterson.
Back in 1994, Rachel Stewart became Complete Cleaners’ first part-time employee. She stayed loyal to the company through two years of high school and four years of college before becoming an elementary school teacher.
While employed for Patterson in the 1990s, Stewart made Christmas decorations that have been put on display for the holidays every year since. Stewart is currently a third grade teacher at Leeds Elementary School, where she’s been for more than 12 years.
While Complete Cleaners continues its growth and expansion, it’s the lasting foundation such as friendly faces, fast service, early risers and, of course, reliable Christmas decorations that have kept this company thriving for nearly two decades.
“The main thing is our people,” Patterson said. “The way we interact with the customer, we hope every customer leaves here and says, ‘She was nice or he was nice’ and that they feel confident in the capability of that person.”