From customer to headlines

Twin-Industry is paving a new path forward regarding client/customer relationships. Here is what they have to say:

Legacy Profile

History Behind the Headlines

FABRICARE CANADA July/August 2015   •   view/download the original article here

I think we did it right

Twin-Industry has been serving western Canada since 1957. Its history is a Canadian immigrant success story, and reminds us of what is good about this country and this industry.


Emil Solypa was born in the Ukraine in 1927 and his family immigrated to Canada in 1929. Raised on a farm and the eldest child, Emil had to leave school early and go to work to help the family. At age 19, after graduating from welding school, he went to work for Perth's Cleaners and Dye Works as a mechanic. After a year he was the head mechanic.

In 1949, the energetic Emil started a courier/messenger company with a one-ton panel truck. By early 1950 he had two trucks on the road. Business was very good, but Emil sold out in 1951 because it wasn’t challenging enough for him.

Once you have been in the laundry/dry cleaning industry, it gets in your blood. You miss it, said Brent Solypa, Emil's son and the head of Twin-Industry today. Emil had to get back into the business.

He worked for different cleaners, but wasn't kept busy enough with maintenance, and so he learned cleaning and spotting, as well. When he moved to New Method Laundry, he found the large laundry had plenty of equipment - and breakdowns - to keep him busy. Sometimes he'd go two days and two nights straight, never seeming to get a break, said Brent.


Emil met the service manager from Prosperity Co. Inc. in 1955. It was the largest manufacturer of commercial laundry and dry cleaning equipment at the time. Prosperity was looking for a new distributor and very much wanted Emil for the job.

Fred Saurberry from Prosperity convinced me to go out on my own, said Emil. He thought that I was a `natural' for the industry and too good to work for someone else. It took Fred two years to convince me and I never looked back.

On Dec 2, 1957, Emil and Alice Solypa started Twin-Industry Sales & Service Ltd., in Winnipeg, Man. The company name reflects Emil's view of the industry. You have the laundry and the dry cleaning industry, he said. They are two separate industries, but they go hand in hand. It's a Twin-Industry.

The original office was 144 square feet. (Today, the company works from a 10,000-sq.-ft. office/warehouse.) Prosperity sold equipment on a commission basis. Emil bought parts on his own as a dealer and was on a monthly retainer plus expenses for service work. Prosperity put Emil on his feet.


Emil's company was said to be the first of its kind in western Canada selling and servicing equipment and supplies to the dry cleaning, laundry, clothing manufacturers, hospitals, hotels and institutions. Emil also did complete machinery and piping installations and had the Prosperity line of equipment, serving as its representative for western Canada and as far east as Thunder Bay, Ont. Winnipeg had many garment industry companies. Emil's pipefitting skills were fast and neat and it didn't take long to get work from most of the garment manufacturers. At the height of the garment industry, Twin-Industry had 10 pipefitters/mechanics working.

The competition couldn't keep up, since Twin-Industry was a full-service company, said Brent. Emil was a genius with metal. He could engineer/design anything out of metal.

Whatever we did, I think we did it right, said Emil. We never took advantage of anyone and always tried to help our customers.

For years Emil also travelled the road. He worked all day and half the night, and then drove the other half with his car loaded with parts and other gear to meet a client like a hospital administrator in Saskatchewan first thing in the morning and sell a hospital laundry. Alice was holding down the fort, running the office, doing all the bookkeeping, making sure orders got out, coordinating service calls and servicemen, and always keeping Emil posted with phone calls. All the while, she also kept the home fires burning and raised their three children.


Financing was difficult to get for a lot of dry cleaners. One garment manufacturer was setting up a stone wash laundry and the only way he could get financing was if Emil would stand surety with the bank and take back all equipment within five years should something go wrong. Solypa knew he would succeed. Though he didn't look at it as a huge risk, it was. The factory grew to be one of the largest jeans manufacturers and biggest laundry in the industry. Twin-Industry sold them every piece of equipment and serviced it. The laundry ran 24/7 for many years.

Emil financed many customers so they could get their businesses going. I knew the people. They worked hard and were good people and I knew they would do well. They just needed a little help to get going, he said. Many of them became Emil's lifelong friends and treated him like family. While he was on the road, they insisted he come to their homes for dinner, and he even became the godfather for a baby of a good customer from Ontario.

Helping others was private for Emil. He never told me about it, said Brent. But I've had many customers who would say, `Your father helped me out so I could get started.' Many times he struggled himself so his customer could get up and running.


Throughout the years Twin-Industry has sold a variety of brands of equipment. For 58 years Twin-Industry has been a complete laundry and dry cleaning manufactured distributor, selling everything from safety pins to million dollar hospital laundry equipment. The company prides itself on being self-sufficient. The staff members are trained mechanics, licensed gas fitters and highpressure steam fitters, and quality control government-certified installers. They install and repair what they sell and do not rely on outside contractors.


Emil and Brent credit several reasons for Twin-Industry's longevity:

  • They know the equipment. Being a good mechanic is more than just being a parts changer.
  • They know the industry, what their customers need, and how to help them be better.
  • They help their customers by getting equipment running, being called out at all hours. It's not always about the money; this separates us from the competition.
  • They can do it all, from plant design, layout and set-up, through installation and hooking up all necessary piping and equipment, without relying on outside contractors. No competitors are able to provide this level of expertise and service.
  • They take pride in all aspects of their work. They overhaul and re-manufacture used equipment, sandblast and repaint it, and overhaul all parts and valves. Equipment doesn't leave the shop with dirt and oil on it.

Somewhere along the way, everything has gone from quality to price point, said Brent. But quality workmanship is still a staple of Twin-Industry.

The company holds its longstanding business relationships with excellent equipment manufacturers in high regard, and continues to sell and service some of the best equipment lines on the market today. Twin-Industry has over 100 years of technical knowledge and, even after 58 years in business, sales this year are exceeding all projections. Hard work and dedication to the customer still pay off. Best wishes to Emil Solypa in his well-deserved retirement!

Laundry by Relationship

FABRICARE CANADA May/June 2018   •   view/download the original article here

There are 462 Hutterite colonies in North America, 75% of them in Canada. Over 100 of them are in Manitoba, surrounding Winnipeg and other southern cities. The colonies are home to roughly 45,000 people - and they all have laundry.


Twin-Industry Sales & Service of Winnipeg has worked with several colonies for decades to get equipment needed to facilitate their laundry needs. Emil Solypa, who founded Twin-Industry 61 years ago, developed a very special working relationship with colony leaders that went beyond typical vendor/client interactions. He was considered to be a true friend of the colonies he worked with, and never let them down. I appreciated his honesty, and respected him as I would a father said Rosedale Colony leader John Waldner. We though of him as family, and he would visit regularly.

With Emil's passing in 2016, the relationship has continued with son Brent, who enjoys the beauty of the countryside around the colonies, and the down-to-earth practicality of the leaders and members. They were some of my dad's first customers, and have welcomed me as they did him. They have a different way of life and it's amazing the technology stuff that they go for and are getting better at.


Unlike the Amish in the U.S., who shun technology in most forms, the Hutterites have adapted their 16th-century way of life to include machinery and other equipment that makes that lifestyle easier to maintain. The sect developed in Europe in the 1500s following leader Jacob Hutter, and emphasizes communal ownership of everything, practising their Christianity in daily life, and being pacifists. Persecution have driven them across the globe, with the highest concentration in Canada.

Some thing never change, however, like hand-shake business deals and transparency in working with others. I never ask for one penny down from them, said Solypa. Their word is as good as gold; when they come they pick up the machines, they give you a cheque and you don't wait for your money to clear. Colonies hear of Solypa's work and contact him, rather then the other way around. A couple of months ago a colony I had never dealt with phoned me up. I talked to him for 5-10 minutes and he asked me a little about the machines. He said the other colony said they're good machines, and I'm a good guy to deal with. He asked me for a price, then asked if I was giving him a good price, and I assured him I was. The gentleman said, `I'll give you my verbal order for $80,000 worth of equipment'


The Rosedale Colony, located 30 miles west of Winnipeg, encompasses 7,000 acres of farming land. The people grow canola, wheat, barley, soy beans, and corn silage and alfalfa for dairy cows. They also raise 25,000 to 30,000 hogs per year, 15,000 egg-laying chickens, 50,000 turkeys, and milk 45 cows twice a day. Approximately 90 men, women and children live in the colony, and hold all assets in common. Cooking and dining are done communally, and laundry facilities are available to all. Generally, when a Hutterite colony reaches 100 people, a new colony is planted elsewhere.


The washroom is for the whole colony. It includes six washing machines and 2-4 dryers. Each family has an assigned wash day, though the washroom can be used other times if needed and available. Equipment has to hold up to heavy usage, so they buy quality pieces.

They just don't buy a regular dryer or washer, they want the top line computerized model, said Solypa. They're looking for driers with the OPTI-dry option, which shuts the dryer off when the load reaches a specific dryness. They choose the most energy efficient dryer and they all like the stainless. They finish off the trim around the machines beautifully, and you don't see any water lines, electrical or drains. Really nicely done.

Though decision making on the colonies is done by a the male leaders, especially when it comes to expenditures, the women are definitely consulted for the washroom. They value the women's input because it's the women that are going to be using the equipment, Solypa said.


We've had UniMac for as long as I can remember, said John Waldner. The quality of the machines has constantly improved over the years, and we've always been extremely satisfied with their performance. UniMac has been very good for the community through the years. That doesn't prevent him from asking around at other colonies about their equipment, but UniMac still wins in his book.

The laundry hall at Rosedale Colony was renovated in March 2018. It includes a UniMac 40-lb. soft-mount high-speed washer/extractor, a 30-lb. soft-mount high-speed washer//extractor, 4 UX 20-lb. soft-mount washers and a UX 35-lb. soft-mount washer. UniMac electric dryers round out the package.


The Hutterite colonies make up an interesting niche market that Twin-Industry and other companies have been able to serve for many years. Loyalty is a byword with Hutterites, and once a vendor has established its credibility, the relationship is likely to be a long one. I'm proud to be welcomed at the colonies, and to be able to serve them in this way, said Solypa.