An Ohio couple found a cheap laundromat on Craigslist. Now they're millionaires.
- In 2010, Dave Menz was working at a telephone company when he decided to invest in a laundromat.
- Now he and his wife run four laundromats that brought in $1.8 million in revenue last year.
A little change can go a long way.
It did for Dave Menz, a 46-year-old real-estate investor in Cincinnati, who calls himself the Laundromat Millionaire.
The four laundromats Menz operates with his wife, Carla — along with their consulting business helping other laundromat owners get started and grow their businesses — have, indeed, made them rich. The couple has a net worth of $3.4 million, according to financial documents reviewed by Insider.
In just 13 years, Menz has gone from working a 9-to-5 job at his local telephone company to building a mini-empire of laundromats that brought in $1.8 million in revenue in 2022. Insider verified Menz's income.
In the last few years, the Menzes started helping other aspiring real-estate investors take the same path.
They offer workshops, conferences, and consulting services for fees ranging from $10 to $4,000 to people who want to get started investing in laundromats or existing operators who want to grow their businesses. This line of business brought in $320,000 in 2022, pushing their total gross revenue up to $2.2 million last year, according to documents viewed by Insider.
"We've really fallen in love with the impact that a newer laundromat with new technology and nice facilities has on a community," Menz said.
He shared the details of the journey with Insider.
From humble beginnings to a 9-to-5 day job
Menz spent the first decade of his life living in "pretty extreme poverty" in Flint, Michigan, he told Insider in 2021.
When he was 11, his dad got a job as a computer programmer at a hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, and moved the family there. The Menz family "went from being pretty poor to probably lower middle class to maybe even middle class," he said.
Cincinnati has been good to him ever since.
He became a 411 operator at Cincinnati Bell, a local telephone company, at 19. Over 17 years, he rose through the ranks and eventually became a lineman.
Menz realized early on that he wanted to be his own boss. He and Carla began living frugally while squirreling away any extra income from his day job to eventually pursue entrepreneurship.
"We lived well below our means and saved a lot of money," he said.
Buying the first laundromat
Menz found his first laundromat on Craigslist. He was able to take control of a rundown facility in the Cincinnati suburb of Amelia for $85,000, using $30,000 the couple had saved and a small business loan.
Menz used their remaining savings to renovate: He painted, opened up the floor plan, and added a video surveillance system. Those steps made it "clean, bright and safe," he said, "the three main components" of a laundromat. He took out an equipment loan to buy new washers and dryers.
Just seven months after the purchase, the laundromat was bringing in around $14,000 a month. After expenses, Menz was making a monthly profit of about $1,500, which he reinvested into business.
While the income wasn't much, Menz told Insider that he expected a slow start. He kept his full-time job so he and Carla could pay back the loans, cover utilities, and afford raising three kids, now age 25, 15, and 13.
Expanding to more laundromats
Business only grew from there.
In late 2010, Menz acquired a second laundromat, this one in a Cincinnati strip mall that had been abandoned by a previous operator.
"I knew I had a mess on my hands," he said, "but it was a great location." There was no competition nearby, he added.
The landlords were so eager to get the place up and running again that they gave Menz three months of free rent, a discounted ongoing rent of $1,100 a month, and a few thousand dollars for renovations, he told Insider.That location, which opened in January 2011, became profitable within three weeks, Menz said.
By early 2014, the two locations were bringing in $7,000 a month.
Around that time, Menz negotiated a deal for a third location, in Anderson Township, a small village east of Cincinnati.
He purchased the laundromat business for $75,000 and the building it was in for $170,000. After eight months of renovations, that outpost opened, and started to generate $3,000 to $4,000 per month.
By the fall of 2014, Menz was making enough money to quit his job at the phone company. He paid himself about $70,000 annually and reinvested the rest into the business.
Over the next couple of years, Menz added a wash, dry, and fold service to all three locations. While it cost time and money in the beginning to implement, it ended up creating another revenue stream.
In 2016, Menz took control of a fourth laundromat for about $35,000.
In 2022, the Menzes gave up their first location and used the proceeds to open a 9,000-square-foot facility down the road.
It acts as the headquarters for the couple's laundry operations as well as their coaching and consulting work. It's also a community hub where they host workshops for aspiring laundromat owners and free pizza parties open to all.
It's not just about acquiring more locations
Menz's strategy isn't all about growing his portfolio, he told Insider.
He constantly upgrades and tweaks his four locations to make sure they are not, as he put it, "just that 13th pizza place on the corner."
That means having attendants at every location, making sure the storefronts are clean, and providing services beyond just washers and dryers.
The couple has a team of 40 employees who run day-to-day operations at their locations while they focus on expanding the consulting and coaching portion of their business.
They believe that laundromats offer more to neighborhoods than just a place to clean clothes. Menz called them "a vital community resource."
"If we're underserving or not properly serving our community, the community literally suffers," he added. "It's not something to play around with."
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