The Story of EcoClean
Chapter 1: A Business is Born
EcoClean was started by John and Sarah Henderson, who both grew up in the ranching & farming community of Teague, Texas. In the 1970s, John and Sarah came to Austin after graduating from Prairie View A&M. John began a career at IBM, and they opened a copy store that Sarah managed. In the 1980s, they sold the copy store and moved to Washington, DC. John continued to work at IBM while attending Georgetown Law School. After graduation, the Hendersons returned to Austin, and John practiced patent law at IBM.
In 1995, the Hendersons were again looking for a business opportunity when their daughter Chanda began to complain of fumes and headaches from the dry cleaner near to her workplace. Soon after, John learned about a non-toxic alternative to dry cleaning, and the family researched what it would take to open a business. In 1997, the Henderson’s opened EcoMat, which provided both professional, non-toxic garment care and a state of the art self-service laundry. Sarah managed EcoMat, this time joined by son Wesley. EcoMat had its home at 2915 Guadalupe – a place dear to many who remember it as a long-time location of Austin’s historic Antone’s blues bar.
By 2006, John and Sarah were ready to retire and Wesley was anxious to take up ranching on family land back in Teague. John Dorgan and Conrad Bejarano, owners of EcoMat’s iconic neighbors I Luv Video and Spider House knew the community loved EcoMat. John and Conrad bought EcoMat and subsequently changed the name to EcoClean.
Chapter 2: New Owners, New Technology and A New Name
John and Conrad met in high school in El Paso, Texas and moved to Austin together in 1984 to open a video store. Today, I Luv Video is known across the country for its massive selection and bohemian charm. In 1996, John and Conrad followed up with the equally iconic Spider House Café – a sprawling outdoor homage to good weather, good vibrations and flowing libations. They knew how important EcoMat was to the community and they were eager to shepherd it into the future. After purchasing the business from the Hendersons and renaming it EcoClean, John and Conrad made several investments in technology to keep EcoClean at the forefront of the changes taking place in the traditional dry cleaning industry.
Chapter 3: Expansion Keeps All of Austin Clean
In 2010, Mark Hess and Kevin Bonfield formed a partnership with John and Conrad to help take EcoClean from a single location serving the central Austin area to a premiere garment cleaning business serving all of Austin.
Since assuming executive management of EcoClean, Mark and Kevin have continued the technology push started by John and Conrad. In October of 2010, they installed a new computer system for tracking clothes and improving the customer experience. This also enabled the expansion of a free pick-up and delivery service for the entire Austin area. Investments have also been made to continue to reduce the environmental impact of garment cleaning. The most popular has been the rapid adoption of Green Garmento bags, which eliminate the need for plastic protective bags with every order.