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Dress for Success

Karla Perez, National Director of Gaming, Cintas Corporation

Dress for Success

Gone are the days when uniforms in the hospitality industry were bland, ugly and downright boring. Today’s uniforms are expected to convey the fun and excitement of hotel and casino properties, as well as the personality of the employees. Leading that charge over the last few years has been the Cintas Corporation.

Karla Perez is the fashion-savvy, service-oriented leader of the Cintas gaming group. Her enthusiasm and dedication to her customers sets her and her company apart from the formerly staid business of dressing your workers. Perez now brings a new vision to how employees are seen and what the uniform represents.

To cement that new approach to gaming, Perez has been able to take part in a truly remarkable transformation of the entire gaming sector within Cintas. The company stepped up its focus on gaming by developing the Las Vegas Design Studio, which includes a showroom, a design studio, fitting rooms, a uniform warehouse and other elements of a full-service outlet.

“We’ve gotten such great feedback on the Design Studio,” she says. “Not only from the casinos in Las Vegas but all around the country.” Perez says many tribal casinos across the country come to Las Vegas “to experience the full service and receive the special treatment we give all our customers at Cintas.”

The company has made a splash at trade shows, most recently G2E, with high-energy fashion shows featuring attractive models and compelling uniform designs that are certainly not boring. Perez says the shows have made casino executives realize that uniforms can be part of their marketing.

“You’re establishing a brand,” she says, “and everything in your property emphasizes that brand. Why not your uniforms, as well?”

Perez didn’t have any intention of getting into this business several years ago. She was happily working in the construction industry, traveling to Las Vegas several times a year during the “building boom.” During one of those trips, she was approached by Cintas and recruited to join the company.

“I was first attracted by the company itself, believe it or not,” she says. “I was impressed by their attitude toward their customers and their employees. Even though we’re a large corporation, we don’t really function that way. We feel more like a family-business, personal-service kind of company. We refer to our jobs as our family away from our family.”

And the style Perez enjoys fits Cintas like a glove.

“I’m very open and inclusive,” she says. “It’s not just me or other executives making decisions in a vacuum. We listen and take feedback from everyone; it’s a very collaborative process.”

In addition to its wildly creative uniform design services for casinos, Cintas also has a program where they can step into a casino and manage the uniform room. This, however, is a highly specialized service, says Perez.

“We tailor each program for the specific casinos,” she says.

Uniforms are worn every day, so they have to be comfortable and employees have to feel good about them. “We like to think we help customers be more attentive to the needs of their employees,” says Perez. “There’s been a big push to make sure employees are happy, so we hold brainstorming sessions with our customers to ensure that happens through their uniforms.

“It’s not just us designing uniforms, it’s providing the service to our customers to make their business better.”