5 Questions with Leonard McCullough, Linen King

5 Questions with Leonard McCullough, Linen King

Leonard McCullough is CEO of Linen King, a health-care laundry services company he helped start in 1999. McCullough was Collinsville High School’s class of 1990 valedictorian. He attended Duke University on a wrestling scholarship and graduated in 1994 with a double major in public policy studies and psychology.


1: What is the history of Linen King? What markets and kinds of clients does the business serve?


I founded Linen King in 1999 with my father, L.K. McCullough, and a local entrepreneur, Kevin Jordan. We started with one location in Oklahoma and now have five locations throughout four states. We primarily serve the health-care laundry sector, choosing to focus on large, acute-care health systems.


2: Your business had $20 million in revenue this year and expects that to grow by 20 percent next year. To what do you attribute that growth?


Great people and hard work. Our industry is very stable and the outlook is quite positive. However, none of our growth would be possible without our outstanding employees who are willing to work very hard, both physically and mentally.


We also have a strategy that focuses on both organic growth and acquisitions. Our goal is to become one of the nation’s leaders in health-care laundry service. This involves maximizing the capacity in our current markets and also expanding in ways that provide backup for our existing facilities. We are also considering other sectors of the laundry industry, such as hospitality and uniforms, because we have so much capacity and multiple locations.


3: What are your plans for the locally owned business over the next five years?


I’d like to continue implementing our growth strategy and achieve revenue between $50 million and $100 million. Additionally, I’d like us to become known as a laundry service provider that provides customized solutions for its clients and is also a great place to work.


4: What would you say is the greatest challenge facing small- to mid-size businesses right now?


I think the government can be one of the greatest challenges. From overreaching regulatory action, to an inconsistent economic message, to actually competing against us for employees and clients, the government is sometimes the single-biggest source of frustration for business owners. That’s not to say that there aren’t positives to consider; it’s just that we’ve seen a major change recently with respect to the message being sent to small business owners, and it is creating paralysis and confusion in markets.


Our clients, the major health systems, are putting pressure on vendors to lower prices because they are being squeezed on government reimbursements. However, the vendors are experiencing major expense increases as a result of regulatory requirements and insurance mandates, so it creates tension.


5: What is it like to work side by side with your father in the business? How does that affect day-to-day operations?


I am often asked this question and I always answer it the same way: It’s fantastic! I think the key to our success in this area is that we both started the business together, so there is a certain amount of mutual respect. Moreover, we each have very distinct skill sets, so you won’t find me second-guessing him on operations or equipment and vice versa when it comes to sales and finance.


Lastly, my dad is just a great guy who works extremely hard. He is 65 years old and still goes to work at 2 a.m. every day whether he needs to or not. I’m trying to get him to cut back to part time, which would only be about 60 hours per week.