Q&A with Todd McKeown

Vice President of Direct Sale Strategic Markets, Cintas

Casinos spend many hundreds of million of dollars on elegant buildings and décor to impress customers. Some of them make the mistake, then, to skimp on the one item that customers see most frequently, the employee uniform. Cintas has a proven track record of producing elegant uniforms that are attractive and compelling to the customer and comfortable to wear for the employee. Todd McKeown explains why Cintas has become more dedicated to the gaming industry as more casinos are built and others are renovated with fresh new looks. He spoke with GGB Publisher Roger Gros from his office in Chicago in June. To hear the full interview, listen to the GGB Podcast at ggbnews.com.

GGB: Describe the services and products Cintas provides to the gaming industry.

McKeown: We like to think our products and services under three umbrellas—one being image, two being safety for our gaming companies and their employees and guests, and the third pillar under facility services/guest satisfaction and experience.

Our image products and services really relate to our uniform programs. We’ve got a pretty comprehensive set of capabilities, all the way from design to production, for uniform programs, as well as rental programs to departments within a casino. It also includes uniform room services. We actually run about a total of 65 uniform rooms within casino resorts, where the customers actually outsource the uniform room to us, and we’re physically managing those assets for our customers. So, that kind of falls under our image pillar.

Our second pillar is safety; that is safety for our gaming companies and their employees and guests. That relates to our fire protection services, our first aid programs, and our safe floor solutions. We offer a whole suite of fire protection services, including inspection and repair of lighting systems, extinguishers, suppression systems, alarms, monitoring, and then of course all the repairs associated with that. We can service multiple properties for our customers across the country.

Our first aid and safety products really entail first aid cabinets, the supplies and things in those cabinets, AED, defibrillators, as well as first aid and safety training. The safe floor solutions are matting products that prevent slips, trips, falls and injuries while on the hotel or casino floor.

Our third pillar is really that facility cleanliness or guest satisfaction pillar, and that includes all of our cleaning systems from microfiber cleaning systems, restroom systems, deep clean services for tile and carpet, to air conditioning coils, and then chemicals, mops and towels, and a whole suite of facility services.

Let’s talk about the glamorous side, with the uniforms and the image products.

We offer a full suite of uniform products and services from design to custom uniform solutions, to off-the-shelf modified stock product that we can ship relatively quickly. Our goal with that part of the house is that it is more a distinctive look because the customers certainly do see it. We want uniforms to be an extension of that casino or gaming company brand, and what they’re trying to portray with that image, but it’s all about putting our customers in the right uniform programs.

And when you look at the back of the house, it’s all about helping our customers be more operationally efficient. We’ve spent a significant amount of time training our partners on how gaming professionals and gaming executives run their business. We truly want to be an integrated partner.

We see outsourcing continuing to be a big trend. Gaming companies want to focus on their core business and outsource those things that aren’t core. We want to be there for our customers to help them drive occupancy, RevPAR, operational efficiencies and profitability, with our service solutions.

You just opened a design studio in Las Vegas. What does that say about your commitment to gaming?

Our gaming business was lumped in with our hospitality business, going back to the 2008/2009 time frame, but we really wanted to expand our presence in Las Vegas. So we made a conscious decision to segment that gaming business away from hospitality, because it truly is different and unique, and we wanted to bring those same capabilities that we have at our Chicago headquarters to the Las Vegas market, but with a very gaming-centric flavor.

With the Las Vegas design studio, we’ve got image consultants that work directly with our clients to understand the brand. We have project managers dedicated to the right look and service. We’ve got sales operations and customer service in that facility. We’ve got design, we’ve got technical design, and then we’ve got production, in terms of sample-making and small production, and then we have a production staff there that outsources larger production needs. But really, it was all about just having a turn-key solution in that Vegas market, to really help get us more woven into the fabric of the gaming community in Vegas.

Let’s talk about what the process is, when a casino is either opening or decides to reinvest in uniforms for an existing employee base.

It starts with a meeting with the different folks at the gaming company, casino, and really understanding—a deep understanding—of what their needs are, and what their direction is. We have image consultants who work in the field, who work hand-in-hand with those properties, and then designers who also get involved to put together designs that reflect the brand and the property. And once we fully understand, our designs really try and capture the latest trends, colors, styles, silhouettes that you see on the runway, and then design the merchandise program that meets that customer’s needs. What we excel in is that end-to-end solution when either a customer is considering a new uniform program, or it’s a brand new opening.

Roger Gros
Roger Gros is publisher of Global Gaming Business, the industry's leading gaming trade publication, and all its related publications. Prior to joining Global Gaming Business, Gros was president of Inlet Communications, an independent consulting firm. He was vice president of Casino Journal Publishing Group from 1984-2000, and held virtually every editorial title during his tenure. Gros was editor of Casino Journal, the National Gaming Summary and the Atlantic City Insider, and was the founding editor of Casino Player magazine. He was a co-founder of the American Gaming Summit and the Southern Gaming Summit conferences and trade shows. He is the author of the best-selling book, How to Win at Casino Gambling (Carlton Books, 1995), now in its fourth edition. Gros was named "Businessman of the Year" for 1998 by the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce, and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Gaming Association in 2012.

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