Your Austin, TX Dry Cleaner Since 1935.
The Jack Brown Cleaners Story: From Our Family to Yours for Over 95 Years
Z. Taylor Brown Brings “Steam Laundry” Invention from World’s Fair to Midland, Texas in 1904
Austin, Texas-based Jack Brown Cleaners is a family-owned and operated dry cleaning company with its roots in the very beginnings of the dry cleaning industry. In 1904, Jack Brown’s grandfather, Z. Taylor Brown, an engineer and attorney, went to the World’s Fair in St. Louis and was so fascinated by the working exhibit of a “steam laundry”, he bought it on the spot and had it shipped back by rail to his home in Midland, Texas. It sat in storage until 1907, when he gave it to his son, Paul, as a wedding present. Paul installed the equipment and began taking in laundry from Midland residents, even delivering it to their homes in his horse and buggy after his laundry closed for the night. Midland flourished with the oil boom, and with it, Paul Brown’s steam laundry business prospered and grew. In the late 20’s, an oil boom hit Eastland County, Texas, and Paul moved the laundry to Eastland and opened another in Cisco, about 20 miles away. When the oil boom ended in the early 30’s, Paul moved the laundry back to Midland and reopened. It stayed there until 1935, when Paul moved the laundry to Austin, and opened his first store at 1600 San Jacinto Street.
Paul Brown Moves Family Laundry and Dry Cleaning Business to Austin, Texas, in 1935
Paul Brown’s San Jacinto Laundry thrived, and in 1939, the building needed to be expanded, and was doubled in size. At this time, a dry cleaning machine was added, to complete the full-service laundry and dry cleaning plant. In 1943, a devastating fire broke out and all of the equipment except a flatwork iron was lost. Through the generosity of the local competitor, Paul was able to use his plant at night and business continued while the San Jacinto Laundry was rebuilt. This was not an easy task, as World War II was in high gear and steel was extremely hard to obtain. It took almost a year to get back in business.
As the war ended, men and women went back to college in Austin, and the Brown family was there to serve them with their laundry and dry cleaning needs. The San Jacinto Laundry began to launder wholesale shirts for other cleaning businesses and linens for the University of Texas at Austin’s dorms and neighboring motels.
Jack Brown Meets New Needs in Central Texas
In 1951, Paul’s son, Jack, entered the business and took over the production chores. Under Jack’s direction, the business continued to grow and in 1961, he purchased a One-Hour Martinizing Cleaners on his own and hired a manager to run it, while still doing production at the San Jacinto Laundry. Over the next few years, Jack put in three more One-Hour Martinizing dry cleaning plants, feeding the shirts, pants, and linens to the San Jacinto Laundry. To fill the loss of business during summers, when university students were gone, the laundry sent one to two trucks per day to Kerrville, Texas, to pick up the boys and girls clothes from the summer camps. This is where Jack’s children really came into service. Steve, Gail, Terry, Kevin, Jeff, Mary Lauren and Paul were all pressed into service, picking up, delivering, checking the garments, tumbling, and packaging. This experience prepared them for later service as they finished college and entered the family business.
In 1968, Paul Brown died, and Jack continued running the plant for his mother until 1970, when he purchased it from her. In late 1970, another laundry came up for sale, Burton’s Laundry at 615 West 19th Street in Austin. Jack bought the laundry, knowing that the State of Texas was putting pressure on the owner of the property rented by the San Jacinto Laundry, to sell to them or be taken by condemnation. Thus, the equipment of the San Jacinto Laundry was moved to Burton’s Laundry. This proved to be a very good decision, because Burton’s had a contract to do the laundry for St. David’s Hospital, a new line of service for San Jacinto Laundry. Subsequently, Jack convinced Seton Hospital to close their in-house laundry and let San Jacinto Laundry process it. This was the beginning of a long relationship with the two hospitals. In 1971, Jack entered into the drapery cleaning business, and the decision was made to change the names of the seven One-Hour Martinizing stores to “Jack Brown Cleaners”. In 1972, the “Wash ‘n Wear” craze hit the clothing market, and to combat the loss of sales and unused equipment, Jack entered into a contract with Apparelmaster to provide Jack Brown Cleaners with the information and guidance to enter the uniform and dust control business. A linen rental division was also added to the mix. Jack acquired Austin’s largest and oldest laundry and dry cleaning business in town, the Austin Laundry & Dry Cleaning Company, and in 1974, purchased a former Coca Cola bottling plant at 1009 West 6th Street, and equipped the 45,000 square-foot facility with equipment to serve the Uniform Division and Hospital Division, leaving the 19th Street location for family laundry and dry cleaning. Several acquisitions followed, including Acme Cleaners’ 14 Austin locations, Slater-White Cleaners in San Antonio, and many others.
Moving Into the Future with Jack Brown Cleaners
Today, Jack Brown Cleaners remains a family-owned and operated, Central Texas tradition, with more than 37 stores. Jack Brown Cleaners continues to serve Central Texas families with quality dry cleaning and laundry services and a friendly “can-do” spirit that has been handed down with pride through the years. President and CEO, Paul Brown, and the entire Jack Brown family, carry on the tradition of excellence that all started with Z. Taylor Brown’s purchase of the steam laundry at the 1904 World’s Fair. It’s a tradition they celebrate every day, as the company grows to meet the changing needs of families who rely on Jack Brown quality, convenience, and value.
A Letter from Paul Brown
For over 75 years, our family has been helping to make Central Texans’ lives easier through our family owned and operated neighborhood dry cleaning stores, Jack Brown Cleaners and Slater-White Cleaners. Through the years, innovations in operations and technology have worked to help us serve our customers faster and better. Some things, however, haven’t changed. Things like the convenience that Jack Brown and Slater-White Cleaners offers to our customers who rely on us every day to keep their families clean and fresh. Our goal has always been to make our customers’ lives easier, more pleasant, and of course, cleaner. People turn to Jack Brown Cleaners because they know that we will greet them with a smile and most often, with their names. They know that when we say that we will do something for them, we will, and if there is a glitch or a problem, we will make it right, no questions asked. They also know that our stores have our name on them, and we take that very, very seriously.
The Jack Brown Guarantee is what sets us apart from the others. Simply said, it’s as easy as JBC. Jack Brown Cleaners offers the highest quality service in dry cleaning, laundry, alterations, shoe repair, and more. We continue to look for ways to make your life simpler and more convenient, and though we aren’t the cheapest in town, we are the best, and we give our customers the best value for their money. With our in-car service, 24 hour service centers, our great monthly specials, preferred customer bag service, our free pickup and delivery service, and on-site shoe repair and alterations in many stores, Jack Brown Cleaners saves you precious time so you can move on to more interesting things than cleaning your clothes. Things that are important to your family, like spending time together.
The Jack Brown family is here to serve you, and we thank you for your trust in us for these many years. No matter what changes, there is one thing that Central Texans can always count on, and that is that Jack Brown will be as close as the nearest corner, ready and honored to serve you, our friends and customers.
All the best,
President and CEO
Jack Brown Cleaners and Slater-White Cleaners