Mark Ryan jokes that he has solvent in his blood. “I’ve got really vivid memories of being 5 years old and going into my grandfather’s dry-cleaning vans – I can really remember the smell,” he says. “Some things never leave you.”
Reflecting a proud Dry Cleaning heritage
In 2010 Mark rebranded his Canberra Dry Cleaners business in Mawson as R&R Fabricare to reflect its history and his heritage. “This dry cleaner was set up by myself and my father back in 1985, as a small, customer service-oriented dry cleaner based in Cooleman Court, and another now at Mawson” explains Mark. “But it was always an ambition of mine to resurrect the family business name.”
Generations of Dry Cleaning Expertise
In 1933, Mark’s great-grandfather, Herbert, his brother Gus, son Alan and friend Leo Robins set up R&R in Goulburn; and in 1942, Alan opened another in Monaro St, Queanbeyan. Alan’s four sons all joined the business, and it was Mark’s father Peter, who opened Canberra dry Cleaners in 1985. “The new name is a tribute to my Grandparents and the hard word they did raising 7 kids in Queanbeyan, and my grandfather as an entrepreneur. He rally laid the foundation for this business,” Mark says. “I’ve been a bit surprised by the reaction to the rebranding. A few of our customers thought we’d left or been taken over by multinational, and they were actually really relieved when they found out that wasn’t the case! I’m the fourth generation of Ryans in the industry and a lot of things have changed in dry-cleaning over those generations, but not the professionalism”.
Techniques of changed for example Mark says: dry cleaners now need to be up-to-date with water-based cleaning as well. You need to be able to offer your customers a choice.
“We also need to be environmentally aware solvent to totally license these days and it’s really important to be up to speed on current legislation and housekeeping. Housekeeping’s an important word in this industry. The big difference between my work and my grandfather’s era is the back then, a lot of the solvents were petroleum-based white spirits, emissions won’t even regulated!”
R&R Fabricare is still basically the same business as Canberra Dry Cleaners Mark says “garment care is still all about customer service, and we’ve got staff have been here 20 years or more. It’s all about our customers image about how they feel when they wear their clothes: how nicely they present themselves. Our customers are handing over their personal possessions and that image to us, and it’s like a lot of other relationships, with their hairdresser or chemist or doctor; people are always looking for a good drycleaner and they talk when they find one! There is a drycleaner on every street corner, but not too many with my pedigree.
R&R Fabricare has been servicing Canberra since 1933 and can now be found in 3 convenient locations, Weston, Yarralumla and Mawson.