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Unique tales of family pride, told in their own words
CHICAGO — A young family man takes over the cleaning business in California. A second takes over the family business in upstate New York, having at first never envisioned being a drycleaning owner. A third proudly maintains the family name down in Texas. And all share one thing, the love of the business....
“My son’s name is Dario. He was born Dec. 17, 2016,” says proud papa Saro Semercian, owner of Harbour Cleaners, located on Bolsa Chica Road in Huntington Beach, Calif. The business is situated along a bright, wide boulevard, in a snappy-clean little shopping center, just about a mile from the coast, close enough to the Pacific Ocean to smell the sea when the breeze is just right.
“My parents used to both work at this location, and my father would help with the plant’s daily operations. We do everything from hems, let out and take in waists, and sleeves. We do not tailor shirts or jackets from scratch,” he relates. “We have an Instagram account at our drycleaning business. We try to keep it fun and humorous and, of course, show off our spot-removing expertise.”
Semercian, who turned 41 back in May, says, “I have proudly owned Harbour Cleaners in beautiful Huntington Beach (HB) since 2004. It was originally established in 1973. My family and I moved to HB in 1984. I went to elementary, junior and high school all in HB. My father had an agency with a full tailoring department that he and my mother grew to support the family.”
He recalls never wanting to be a dry cleaner: “Hell would have to freeze over! But I’m ice skating as I’m telling you this,” Semercian quips.
College wasn’t for him, so he became an apprentice to a jeweler. That lasted three years.
“I started working for a dry cleaner near the University of California Irvine (UCI) and started falling in love with the customer service aspect of the business and after four years I decided I wanted to open my own store.”
The location he now owns is two miles from the elementary school he attended: “Funny how things work out. I tried to never become a dry cleaner, and 16 years later, I love coming to work every day — well, almost!”
Semercian says he’s a self-taught spotter.
“I have gotten pointers from a close friend and mentor, Dan Pollock. I can repair most of the machines, outside of computer or electric, and I’m an above-average presser when needed. My first love will always remain customer service, and my second love is spot removal,” he confides.
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