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The National Drycleaners Perspective: An Interview with New DLI President Jess Culpepper

Once again, SDA provides top volunteer talent and leadership to the Drycleaners and Launderers Institute International (DLI). Jess Culpepper, of Culpepper Cleaners in San Antonio, was installed last week as the latest DLI President after volunteering his way through the DLI leadership roles.

Prior to his DLI “career”, Jess has served in nearly every volunteer capacity with SDA, including President and Chair of the Cleaners Showcase Committee for the past four years. He presently is on the steering committee preparing to lobby the Texas Legislature in support of extending the Texas Dry Cleaning Remediation Program.

Q, Jess, tell us why you have consistently volunteered your time and leadership for so many years to your professional association.

A. I am motivated because Culpepper Cleaners is now a fourth-generation family business which has provided us with a pretty good living. It just feels right to give back to the industry and organization which has provided me with so much support. I kinda like the people, too.

Q. What is your primary goal during your term as DLI President?

A. You’ve already begun to see it. We want to be the one-stop shop for drycleaners to have a place to go for all things COVID. We have directions to navigating government programs and webinars that are recorded so they can be accessed later. We’re doing all this while continuing all of our previous programs.

Q. Speaking of COVID, what is your long-term prediction about its effect on the industry?

A. First we need the vaccine to get us back to having proms, parties, office wear and weddings. This thing doesn’t look like it’s going away by itself. Piece counts were declining for a decade before this mess. I’m afraid 20 percent of the existing businesses won’t make it so we will be dividing up that market share, which has the potential to strengthen some of the survivors.

Q. Jess, what else would you like to share with your SDA friends?

A. The people of SDA have been among my best friends for most of my life. I won’t forget that SDA is the largest regional association, or Joint States Association, within DLI. SDA has a long heritage and I want my service to reflect well on SDA. All of us on the DLI Board have been very active at the JSA level and we understand that our strength is derived from our relationships with each other.

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