Linen King plans to bring 25 jobs to Columbia

Wednesday, June 2, 2010 | 8:28 p.m. CDT; updated 11:01 a.m. CDT, Thursday, June 3, 2010

COLUMBIA — About 99 percent of the jobs at Linen King's new Columbia facility are planned as local hires and wages could range from minimum wage to six figures, said Leonard McCullough, CEO of the Oklahoma-based business.

McCullough said the company plans to hire 25 employees to start at the new facility. 

“We may have one or two that could transfer in from our other facilities, but right now we don’t have any plans for that,” he said.

The company bought a 52,000-square-foot facility at 2600 Maguire Blvd. in LeMone Office and Industrial Park.

A news release from Regional Economic Development Inc. said Linen King expects to begin hiring sometime in July and plans to have close to 100 employees in less than five years.

Bernie Andrews, executive vice president of REDI, said the jobs are important no matter what they pay.

“Columbia’s a pretty diverse community in terms of education and skill levels, so we need to have job opportunities for all types of residents of Columbia and Boone County,” Andrews said. “It’s good to have these types of jobs in our employment base.”

Linen King’s annual revenue is between $10 million and $20 million, McCullough said. The company has more than 200 employees in its four facilities in Springdale and Conway, Ark., and Midwest City and Bixby, Okla.

Laundry from the Mercy Health System in the St. Louis area will be transferred to the Columbia plant.

McCullough said the company is also working to attract dozens of other customers throughout Missouri and Kansas City. He said Linen King will compete for contracts to provide laundry services to Columbia hospitals.

“Every hospital of a certain size, we’re interested in," he said. "We’d want to try to win the business of those hospitals in Columbia because they’re part of the community.”

MU Health Care spokesman Matt Splett said hospital's laundry contract is with Missouri Vocational Enterprises, a Missouri Department of Corrections company staffed by prisoners.

Jacqueline Lapine, spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections, said Missouri Vocational Enterprises works only for state agencies such as MU, and for not-for-profit organizations.

“We’ve had a really great relationship with the university,” Lapine said. “We anticipate that support would continue.”

Currently, 412 inmates work in Missouri Vocational Enterprises' commercial laundry service, Lapine said. All prisoners employed by the correctional system are paid a stipend and receive between 15 cents and 71 cents an hour. Given the level of wages, Lapine expects little competition from Linen King.

Spokesman Jacob Luecke said Boone Hospital Center uses the Missouri Department of Corrections in Moberly for linen services.

Andrews said neither REDI nor the city offered incentives to bring Linen King to Columbia. McCullough said other communities would have provided incentives but the availability of a workforce made Columbia attractive.

“We were also very well received by the city,” McCullough said. “It seemed like the workforce has a very good work ethic, and we’re excited about that as well.”

Andrews said the building that is planned to house Linen King was last used by Cole Harford, a redistributor for disposable food products. He said the LeMone Industrial Park is becoming an employment district and IBM and Linen King are examples of that.

“We’re out there trying to market our available buildings and sites to a variety of different types of companies,” Andrews said. “Columbia is a growing community and a great place to do business.”

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