Meet DLI Chair Jess Culpepper, CED, CPD, CPW, Culpepper Cleaners and the DLI Executive Committee



The Drycleaning & Laundry Institute’s Board of Directors recognizes valued contributions and inducts new volunteer leadership each year. New Directors are sworn in as their predecessors move to an executive position or become DLI Senators, an exclusive title for previous members of the Board. This year DLI welcomes a host of new faces to its governing body.

DLI asked this year’s group of DLI Executive Committee Members a few questions to help members of the Institute and industry get a better sense of who they are and what they strive to achieve.


CHAIR

JESS CULPEPPER, CED, CPD, CPW, Culpepper Cleaners, San Antonio, TX

Why did you volunteer to serve on DLI’s Board of Directors? To attempt and do what I can to help DLI and other drycleaners. I consider my family fortunate that the drycleaning industry has provided us and our employees a means to earn a living since 1911.


How has DLI membership impacted your business? We have been members of DLI for decades, all the way back to when it was NID. We have gained knowledge and and added to our abilities through our membership.


What complications or supportive developments do you foresee for 2022? Moving forward I see a shortage in the labor force so by becoming more efficient wherever possible will help mitigate that problem. On demand and online shopping will continue to grow which equates to more of the retail dry cleaning business becoming pick-up and delivery, which we need to embrace as an opportunity.


What is your favorite part of being in this business? I enjoy the work because of the satisfaction I get from doing a job well and working at improving everyday.


What might most people in the industry not know about you? I enjoy spending time with my family and am a weekend rancher. I enjoy being a steward of our property and spending time in the outdoors.


PRESIDENT

Bobby Patel, Kona Cleaners, Costa Mesa, CA

Why did you volunteer to serve on DLI’s Board of Directors? I volunteer to serve the drycleaning industry that has provided a living for me and my family.


How has DLI membership impacted your business? I joined DLI 20 years ago. DLI helps me keep up with the current industry trends and has made me a more professional drycleaner.


What complications or supportive developments do you foresee for 2022? We will continue to see closures from the impacts related to Covid. The drycleaners business that survive will do well.


What is your favorite part of being in this business? The daily challenge of bettering my business for me and my Team.


What might most people in the industry not know about you? I enjoy volunteering, hiking, and spending time with my family. Also, being an introvert, I thoroughly enjoy a little time to myself.


PRESIDENT-ELECT

Jeff Schwegmann II, CGCP, Sunshine Cleaners, Cold Spring, KY

Why did you volunteer to serve on DLI’s Board of Directors? Several years ago I attended a MWDLA meeting in French Lick Indiana. It was my first drycleaning conference. I met Jan Barlow, who gave the keynote speech. She encouraged me to attend the board meeting. I was hesitant because I was not a board member. I followed her there with some encouragement. Eventually I was appointed to the the MWDLA board, became President, then joined DLI's board. But it really is the people. DLI has all the educational tools you could ever need but the guidance from the fellow members and DLI staff is invaluable.


How has DLI membership impacted your business? DLI's leadership during the pandemic shows the quality of the institution and its people. We learned so many things from DLI and its members. The information we learned from DLI was used to help with our decision making. We survived and are now growing as a result.


What complications or supportive developments do you foresee for 2022? The employment market is tough and will be for a long time. Members need to take advantage of the training tools DLI offers. Members need to look at all the benefits their membership provides and use the tools as part of their training programs.


What is your favorite part of being in this business? I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, to build and manage my own thing. I didn't plan on entering the family business but I am glad I did. 20-years in and I look forward to the challenge every day.


What might most people in the industry not know about you? My favorite activity is sarcasm. My favorite hobby is aggressive sitting. I enjoy watching other people walk on the beach. I enjoy golfing and my favorite part of golfing is riding in the cart. I don't like cats. Dogs are tolerable. My kids are loud. My wife is wonderful.


TREASURER & DISTRICT 1 DIRECTOR

Kathy Benzinger, Benzinger's Dry Cleaning, Hamburg, NY

Why did you volunteer to serve on DLI’s Board of Directors? At FallFest, I was introduced to one of my great mentors, John Dallas, and had the privilege of meeting Peter Blake, as well. At the time, they were looking for a District Committee Member (DCM) and asked me if I would be interested. As a DCM, I attended all DLI board meetings. When John Dallas later left DLI’s Board, I was more than happy to take on a larger role. Every member of the board is passionate about the industry and helping others. I am truly grateful to have the opportunity to work with all of them and to contribute to DLI’s efforts.


How has DLI membership impacted your business? My father was a member of IFI when I worked at his cleaners after graduating from high school. He was always reading the information we received at the cleaners. He was a firm