Entrepreneurs Todd and Kathy Laabs grew up in Iowa. They met at an MBA program at the University of Iowa. Once married, Todd’s 15-year career with Procter & Gamble would take them all over the country. They moved six times during an 11-year period. The couple now resides in Edina and owns the new Tide Dry Cleaners franchise just behind the Lunds & Byerlys on France Avenue.
Why Edina? While their corporate career track was fulfilling and expanded their horizons, after starting a family, they began to feel the pull of home, as well as a desire to own their own business. They also felt their children—Veda, a third-grader, Adele, a first-grader, and Winston, a preschooler—needed to be closer to their grandparents, who, with Todd and Kathy, co-own a small hotel and restaurant in Clear Lake, Iowa.
The taste of various cities they’d experienced over the years, though, made the Laabs look across the border to Minnesota, where they decided very intentionally to put down roots in Edina. The family moved here in July 2016.
“We love what this community has to offer,” says Todd, citing the vibrant culture within easy reach. They enjoy walking the lakes, meeting friends at Bread and Pickle at Lake Harriet or at George and the Dragon, and exploring the different things Edina offers within its borders and nearby in Minneapolis. It is a great place, they feel, to raise a family and start a new adventure together. The opportunity to buy the franchise in Edina also made a lot of sense because they’ve become quite familiar over the years with the Tide brand, a Procter & Gamble product.
The Laabs have already joined the Chamber of Commerce, and Kathy serves on the PTO at Cornelia Elementary as secretary-elect. Todd spoke at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast about dry-cleaning basics and is working with the chamber on its golf tournament. The couple is open to more ways to connect in Edina, and continue to have their antennae up about how business owners in the community can link arms with one another.
“Edina is really that place where you can dream that American dream of owning your own business and investing in the community,” Todd says.
The couple feels Edina is very friendly to small businesses and have already felt the support of the local community. They have been welcomed warmly and are making connections with other business owners. They’ve also experienced the way people in Edina want to see businesses succeed—a great place to launch their new venture.
Kathy adds, “We see the huge benefits of what the Edina school district offers for our family.” Their kids have embraced their new home and school, and are already connected through lots of activities. Veda is involved in Girl Scouts, piano lessons and fast-pitch softball. Adele just joined the TAGS gymnastics team while Winston keeps busy with T-ball.
When they decided to open a business here, the Laabs saw a chance to provide a service as well as a way to put down deep roots. “We are here to stay,” Kathy says.
Todd, whose father was also an entrepreneur, says of his Tide Dry Cleaning venture that opened in November 2016, “Owning our own business has really brought me full circle and affords us a flexibility we didn’t have when we were in corporate jobs.” He adds, “I’ve always liked the franchise model because it offers somewhat of a guidebook to do business but some freedom, too.” The Laabs also saw that Tide Dry Cleaners is an innovative addition to an industry that hasn’t changed for quite a while.
“Tide Dry Cleaners was developed with the busy, modern person in mind,” says Kathy. All of the cleaning is done on-site using Green Earth, a non-hazardous, environmentally safe solvent. There is a 24-hour kiosk where customers can drop off or pick up their cleaning even when counter service is closed. The store also offers a valet service including delivery to both home and office. Plans involve more stores with drive-throughs. “We have tried to think through what our customers, who have a million other things to do, need,” Kathy says.
Beyond owning a business, the Laabs are committed to being good community members. They did a big clothing drive in April for Tide Loads of Hope, a program to meet the needs of people devastated by natural disasters. Look for similar charitable opportunities to come. Also, the couple hopes to award a few Super Bowl tickets next January, since Procter & Gamble and Tide Dry Cleaners is a sponsor of the event.
Eventually, the Laabs hope to expand and grow their business. “We are the 45th store to open in the U.S.,” Todd says. “It is really a growing business and a national brand.” The couple would like to have more stores in Edina and then possibly expand into other southwest metro areas. “But,” he adds, “we are mindful of going at the right pace. We want to make sure we get customer service right and can continue to serve the community.”
For now, Kathy says, “We’ve realized that we need more Hornet green clothes.” The family is having fun building up their Edina wardrobe. And they have a great place to keep all that green and white especially clean.
For more information about this family owned franchise, visit the Tide Dry-Cleaners website.