Going Local: Hermes Commercial Laundry Equipment

 Leo Hermes, owner of Hermes Commercial Laundry Equipment, located at 205 S. Lee Street in Bloomington. (Image Credit Erik Prenzler)

Leo Hermes, owner of Hermes Commercial Laundry Equipment, located at 205 S. Lee Street in Bloomington. (Image Credit Erik Prenzler)

Leo Hermes graduated from Bloomington High School in 1973. He never went to college and says he doesn’t regret the decision to go straight to work in his father’s refrigeration business.

One of nine children, Leo says he and six of his siblings were active in family businesses of refrigeration, heating & cooling, or commercial laundry at some point. (The businesses are not all connected in ownership or management, however).

Leo's father, Robert Hermes, retired in 1984. After his father’s retirement, Leo shifted the business into a company that offers dry cleaning, coin laundry, and commercial laundry equipment service and sales. Leo opened the first Starcrest Cleaners at 208 N. Prospect Road in Bloomington in 1990. Today there are 26 Starcrest Cleaners in Illinois, Missouri, Indiana and Nebraska. The company also has nine self-service coin operated laundromats.

As business attire becomes more “casual,” there seem to be fewer dry cleaning needs, but “when the economy is good, the dry cleaning business is good,” notes Leo.

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LeoHermes opened the first Starcrest Cleaners in 1990. 

Hermes employs over 260 people total, including 40 employees in Bloomington-Normal. The company also offers a 3-4 year apprenticeship program for store managers. Leo says the company’s biggest challenge is finding good people. “We don’t hire the talent, but we do hire the character of the person,” he said.

In addition to running his laundry business, Leo also likes to exercise. He is a member of a noon-time running group that meets at the Bloomington YMCA. The group of 10-12 men typically run about 4-5 miles each day. “I’ve enjoyed it for almost 30 years. It helps keep the stress off and is a good balancing tool for me,” Leo told AdaptBN.

Leo also enjoys outdoor sports and is an Indianapolis Colts fan. In his office, he has a photo of himself with Peyton Manning.

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