One thing about being a dry cleaner is that we get to see all kinds of clothes. We also get to see how they age over time and what companies have the best construction. Simple things like how they source their fabrics and what sort of stitching they use can make all of the differences in the world.

Some companies go all out and get the best materials available and some outsource for the cheapest materials they can get. Small boutique items are typically the most delicate and difficult to clean. There are many reasons why I think this is the case. The biggest reason is these clothes are specially made in small batches with little concern for how long they will last. They are made to be perfect for the one season before the next year's line comes out.

Some of the most expensive brands fall into this category and should be taken to a professional cleaner every time they are soiled. Something I never took into account prior to owning a dry cleaning company is the small beads and plastics found on clothes. These, if not made correctly, can melt in the dry cleaning process or the glue used to fasten them to the clothing can come off making the beads or gems come off in the dry cleaner.

This is worth pointing out to your cleaner when you drop off something like that. A good cleaner should be on the lookout for that type of thing, but sometimes it can be overlooked. Amarillo is really lucky that we have several small clothing stores here that are locally owned and will really take care of their customers.

Being a small business owner is an interesting and challenging proposition. You have to fill many shoes and wear all of the hats to make everything work. In a large business everything is more compartmentalized. You have the CEO who makes the command decisions and the CFO who controls the budget.

There are several such titles in a large business so that not one person ever gets too much on their plate. In a small family owned business there is typically one or two people who share all of those responsibilities.

It becomes a juggling act to try and make everything consistent and perfect. I will say having worked for small and large companies in the small companies where the owner is present there is typically more care and pride in the work, which I always thought was one of the best reasons to try and stay local with my shopping. Being able to walk into an establishment and talk to the owner about things is a huge plus in my book.

Try going into one of the major chain stores and see if you can talk to an owner I don't think it would be possible unless you spent some astronomical amount of money with the business. Case in point I had a customer call the other day about getting a stain out of an item of clothing. I spent several minutes talking to her about what we would try to do to get the stain out. Dry cleaning is as much art as science. You have to watch the PH levels of the water and the clothes having too much acidity can lead to yellow spots etc. Working on the stain board if your technique isn't good, you can blow a hole into the garment, especially a delicate silk blouse. I try to be available to interact with the customers as much as possible.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at dochecleanersamarillo.com

I've lived all over the world, not on vacation but lived in other places for months and years at a time. Amarillo is the greatest little city I have ever been to. People here will help other people in need. I know if somebody is visiting here and their car breaks down many of the local dealerships will go above and beyond to get them back on the road. Locally, we have many great institutions to help people with little legs up such as the High Plains Food Bank, which, through all of the community support, helps locals be able to eat, or our favorite, Colorful Closets, which helps provide children in need with clothing to go to school and have the confidence they need to become successful in their lives.

We have many wonderful donors who support the arts here such as the Amarillo Little Theatre and there is an awesome initiative through the city to have local artists draw murals on public buildings to beautify Amarillo and support the artists in their endeavors. It never ceases to amaze me how, if you look around Amarillo, how many people are there donating their time and money to help this community be great.

Recently a customer brought in a family heirloom to have a spot removed that had gotten on it during storage. It is a beautiful Easter dress that every member of the family gets their picture taken in, I would say, when they were about three or four. I love the challenge of things like this and the trust we have developed in the community for people to come to us specifically for items that are sentimental or valuable and they know they can't just trust anyone with it.

I recently had one of my most challenging pieces ever brought in. One of our customers is a big motorcycle fan and he was setting up his garage to reflect that. He brought in an old Triumph banner from a dealership that had been hung up for decades in a shop. I knew the colorfastness in the dyes was not going to be very good. It made me feel like an archeologist cleaning this. I used delicate brushes and PH neutral water and soaps to keep the orange from bleeding onto the white. It was an adventure to get all of the dingy yellowing and old grease off. I worked on one little section and stain at a time. It turned out great and the customer seemed extremely happy or at least happy enough to bring in another one.


I've been trying to find live music in Amarillo, and it seems there is a shortage of it here. When my wife and I lived in Virginia, they offered monthly live music in the park which was a lot of fun. One of my hobbies aside from cleaning clothes is to try and pluck my way through a song on the guitar. I've been at it off and on for the last few years and can honestly say a teenager who started playing last week can probable pull off more licks than I can. However, it is still fun to try.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at dochecleanersamarillo.com

Today is Easter, which I believe is a great time to be thankful for everything in our life. Whether tackling a new project you are not sure of the outcome of or having just successfully completed a project. I have realized many times that failures often teach us more than successes.

For those who follow my articles, you know I have two daughters and a wife. This means I am highly outnumbered when it comes to any decisions that need to be made. The estrogen is nearly overwhelming in our house. This means on Easter there will be three girls trying to get ready with limited bathroom and mirror space. We as the parents in the house have messed up raising our girls; I think it is a problem with my generation. We haven't instilled the appropriate amount of fear in our daughters.

I remember waking up Sunday mornings as a kid to the sound of my mother's high heels on the hardwood floor in the hallway running to the kids' bedrooms. Nothing in my life compares to that sound. If you think of any scene in a horror movie where the main characters arm hair rises in anticipation of what is next that is what happens to me when I hear the clack-clack of high heels on hardwood. Unfortunately for us, that is not the case with our daughters so I am sure Sunday morning will be a challenge to make it to church on time and in our Easter best.

Dream big. That is such a small statement and yet it means so much. Dreams are where every adventure begins. I had dreamed of being career military and following in one of my granddad's foot steps. However, after five years in the military I realized I had a 5-year old daughter and had been there for her about six months of her entire life off and on I had even missed her birth having been sent to Kosavo and not being able to return home on time.


I knew when it was time to reenlist that her life meant more to me than the small snippets I had been able to enjoy up to that point. So my wife and I moved on and at that point I had no direction and my dreams had to change. After several years of college with no real direction, we figured out what our next dream was or at least mine. I wanted to own a respected small business in Amarillo and be able to give back to the community by providing jobs and being able to help people in whatever way I could like the people who had helped me in my life.

This has been more than the adventure I had hoped for and we have for the last several years been the owners of several dry cleaners here in Amarillo. Every day is an adventure and the dream keeps changing, moving bars set by leaps and bounds. I am so grateful for the people in Amarillo who are now a part of our small family and see us every day. I hope everybody gets to spend Easter with their families and loved ones. I know I am going to try to this year and make it the best Easter I can. Even if that means having PTSD over the sound of high heels on the hard floors of the church.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at dochecleanersamarillo.com

This is probably an odd statement from a guy who grew up in middle-class Amarillo, but the first time I was ever on the receiving end of enemy fire was in a little country called Kosovo. I went into basic training in 1999 and then went to Airborne training in Georgia. Afterward, I received new orders taking me from either being stationed with the 101st or the 82nd to being with the 527th in Giessen, Germany.

I didn't know it at the time, but the reason was they were gearing up for missions in Kosovo. The Army had just spent millions with Textron to produce a new armored vehicle called the ASV, and the 527th was the first unit to be issued them. The Army wanted to prove they were efficient and capable vehicles, so they immediately sent the 527th to the closest proving grounds they could to help write practical training and see how they handled in rough terrain.

While in Kosovo we put the vehicles to the test. Kosovo has a lot of small mountains and undeveloped areas in between cities and small villages. With that in mind the Army unleashed us in these small wheeled tanks and we took them to task. Something that people don't think about the military is how young everybody is.

The sergeants are in their 20s and the higher enlisted are typically in their 30s. So when the Army said we needed to test these out, we did. Driving to every little village in our patrol sector we were in mudder heaven. We crawled up every muddy mountain trail and through streams and lakes many times getting the Humvees stuck and having to use the wench to pull them up with the ASV. One time while I was driving, we did get one stuck so bad we had to call in the tank recovery vehicle to get us pulled out. Suffice it to say, my superiors were not very happy with us over that one.

Sometime during the deployment, they got word of a rebel training camp up in one of the mountains. The plan was to take Blackhawks up into the mountain and ruck the last little way to assault the camp. Unfortunately, it was snowing too hard that day for the choppers to fly in, so they decided to ruck the entire way up through these small mountain trails. They had planned on using a truck to meet us at the top with our extra gear in our rucksacks, to help us make better time up into the mountain passes.

The trucks got snowed out, so all we had was what we were wearing when we started. Somewhere about a mile or two away from the training camp, we stopped for the night after an entire day rucking up these little mountain goat trails, carrying easily a hundred pounds of equipment apiece. Our clothing was wet from sweat and snow, and since the trucks with the extra gear never made it, we had very little to change into.


I have never been so cold in my life. My bones ached. I was about 19 and remember trying to sleep and thinking, "Well, this is the day I never wake up because I am going to freeze to death in this little blown-up ruins of a building on this little mountain pass in the middle of nowhere."

Thankfully, we all made it to the next morning. We ate, checked our gear and marched the last few miles to the training camp. The Special Forces soldiers who were with us did the initial assault, and we stayed on the perimeter to catch any runners and to step in if they started to become overrun. Special Forces completed the mission with only a few incidents, one of them being a small group who tried to escape and headed our way. As we moved to try and flank them, they engaged us, with one of the bullets hitting the snow inches from where my foot had just been.

I can't remember right now, but I think one or two of the SF soldiers did get injured on this mission. This paper had an article on the mission the next day or so, I know, because my mother kept every article on any mission I was involved in in a scrapbook usually from the Globe-News.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at dochecleanersamarillo.com

Today is a beautiful spring day here. It makes me excited to start working in the yard planting flowers, shrubs and all the other general outside maintenance that has been long ignored over the winter months.

I'm sure my wife has a list as long as her arm of the much needed honey do's on top of what I think needs to be done because that's how it works, at least in our marriage. It also means it is time to clean all of the winter clothes and get them ready for storage, which we did start the other day.

I ran into one of my favorite jackets, which is a 70′s Sears and Roebuck slightly orangey brown coat with a fleece collar. I acquired this particular item of clothing from my father-in-law a few years ago and it has become a staple of my winter wardrobe. It amazes me the amount of craftsmanship clothes had even at a Sears price point, which I believe even then their claim to fame was price and availability.

It has been a regular item of worn clothing for nearly 50 years and still has a lot of life left in it. The collars are not frayed and the fabric is not coming apart in any particular areas. Most clothes made today even at higher price points are made to be discarded within a few years of use. The clothing manufacturers don't double-stitch the seams and the colorfastness has declined so much so that how you clean the clothes makes a tremendous difference in how they look even after a few cleanings.

I wonder if there will be any of today's clothes remaining when the current styles come back around in 20 years or if people will be forced to constantly upgrade their wardrobe with newly purchased items. I will admit to being a little bit of a snob in this area. I prefer older things, partially because I figure if it made it 20 years then it must be well made and partially because some antiques, I believe will always be classy.


Besides my old jacket, I also love old German cars. The leather has a uniquely old German car smell that you cannot replicate. The knobs and buttons are analog and you can feel it do something, unlike newer cars where everything is controlled by the computer telling it to do something. It doesn't hurt that you can buy these for pennies on the dollar, and if you pick it out right, you can drive it for five or six years and sell it for what you bought it.

I also have an affinity for old watches. Most of what people wear today for a watch is technology-driven fit bits or Apple watches that cannot stand the test of time. They are reliant on whatever the most recent advances in technology are.

I think everybody should invest in a beautiful Swiss time piece. They will always look classy and serve the purpose of telling time through the intricate series of gears inside them. Keeping old things looking new is one of the things that attracted me to dry cleaning. Most people don't think about it when they launder at home, but small details like the PH balance of the water and soap can make a tremendous difference in the quality of the cleaning and the longevity of your clothes.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at dochecleanersamarillo.com

One of my favorite destinations in the world is Dubai. It is a part of the United Arab Emirates, which is an Arabian Peninsula nation settled mainly along the Persian (Arabian) Gulf. One of the first things you will notice once you arrive at the airport is the country's commitment to luxury.

I know it's kind of a funny example, but even at the airport the toilets are heated and use hot water in the bowl, which you would never think of but it's a memorable experience. As soon as I got through customs and left the airport I was amazed at the number of luxury vehicles I saw. There were Lamborghinis and Ferraris lined up driving everywhere. I walked to the taxi line and they were all very nice Mercedes, which you will see in Germany but there they use the less expensive, smaller Mercedes and in Dubai it is the big fancier models.

There is so much to do in Dubai, but I think the first thing everyone should see is the Burj Khalifa, which is the tallest building in the world. It stands more than 2,700 feet and 163 floors high. At the base there is a fountain that shoots water to music, which is a simplification of how cool it is. I highly recommend watching a video of the fountain. There is also all of the shopping you could ever want to do. Around the Burj Khalifa is Armani, Gucci, Channel and nearly any other high-end brand you can think of.

They also have an indoor ski mountain and manmade islands in the gulf with all kinds of neat aquatic life and other attractions. I would recommend eating at the Bread Street Kitchen, which is a Gordan Ramsey restaurant near the Atlantis where the islands are located. It is better than his restaurant in Heathrow airport in London. If you ever get the chance to visit Dubai just say yes, it is one of the best destinations in the world.

Now that spring is here and summer is just around the corner, it is time to get the summer sport coat out or to purchase a new one. There are many things to take into account when picking out the best summer sport coat. The first should be what type of material. I prefer linen although it never presses out as well as wool or cotton. It will always have a slightly wrinkled finish no matter what method you use to press it.


Another option is cotton. Cotton will breathe great and press out better than linen, making it a little more formal and yet still a much cooler option than wool or a wool cotton blend. The next thing to take into consideration is the lining. They make summer sport coats without a lining, which is the coolest option. However, I prefer suits made with a partial lining. It goes in the suit just around the shoulders and upper torso.It is typically referred to as a butterfly lining because it is shaped like a butterfly.

The next thing to think about in a suit is the button choices. On a summer sport coat the two-button is the most versatile. For less formal occasions I recommend a single button. It's a little different and looks great. Until you dress up a little, you will never understand how people treat you differently than if you just wear a wrinkled t-shirt and jeans.

With a well pressed outfit and a sport coat, random people will stop and talk to you about anything and smile when they see you. You will immediately notice a difference. Try it for a week and if I'm wrong, email me at dochecleaners@outlook.com. I might change my stance, but I don't think that will be the case.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at dochecleanersamarillo.com

Today is the first day of spring, which means wedding season and prom season have officially arrived. Over the years, we have helped new brides save their precious wedding dresses from all kinds of wedding day abuse. The most recent that comes to mind occurred when the new bride came in with a balled up mess of a wedding dress with a large stain down the front.

She pulled it out of the bag she had it in and with a small embarrassed smile she advised us of what happened. Apparently, her wedding was a lot more fun than mine was. We were only 19 and 20, respectfully, so there was not a lot of drinking and partying when we got married. Apparently for this new bride, which at this point is a term I use loosely because it has been over a year since their wedding, was not the case because of the large brown stain down the front of the dress.

After the wedding she had balled the wedding dress up put it in the trunk of her car and forgot about it until recently. This is the opposite of what you should do with your wedding dress after the big day. Luckily enough in this case even though the stain had set very well by this time with a little luck and patience we were able to save the dress and box it up correctly for storage. I would say the best thing a bride-to-be can do is add wedding dress planning to the to-do list.
You just spent several thousand dollars on your perfect dress and there is no reason it cannot be a keepsake passed down to your one day possible daughter or daughter-in-law. Dry cleaners provide quotes for cleaning and preserving the wedding dress and many will let you prepay for the service either on an account or on a gift card then all you have to do is have somebody drop the dress off after the wedding and forget about it until they call and let you know it is ready.

Typically, cleaners usually request about four to six weeks to do this because they try to only do three or four a week. The process of cleaning and preserving a wedding dress is pretty arduous. There are several methods to cleaning a wedding dress which can be used so the first thing is to decide what will work best on a particular dress. Then you have to press it and take it to a clean room where very little dust can collect on the dress. It must be handled with gloves so no grease gets onto the dress. Then it must be boxed so it is presented beautifully in the window of the box. It takes many hours of effort and know how to properly keep a wedding dress perfect for many years to come.

Prom season is also upon us, and this year it is a special one for me. My daughter is 18 and this will be her senior prom. I can't believe how fast she has grown up. It seems like yesterday she was watching cartoons and eating cereal on Saturday morning. We will get the dress for prom and have it fitted, cleaned and pressed so her pictures come out perfect and she makes the most of her last memories of high school. Once it is over, and she is in the real world all I can do is hope she goes out and lives up to all of her potential which she has in abundance right now at the start of her life.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at dochecleanersamarillo.com

It's incredibly hard to believe, but I have been married to my first wife for almost 20 years. My wife and I had barely graduated from high school and I was getting ready to go to my first duty station in Giessen, Germany. I had known my wife for a couple of years and we had gone out on a few dates but never anything very serious.

Mostly we hung out together or studied for tests for classes we had together. I was packing my stuff getting ready to go and I realized if I left and was gone for several years I would lose my chance with this great girl so I went to Barnes Jewelry, bought an engagement ring and called her to see if she wanted to go out that evening.

I was beyond nervous. We had talked a few times that if we kept hanging out we would end up getting married, so I hope it wasn't a complete surprise when I asked. By today's standards I messed up the entire proposal. I didn't really have anything prepared so I hope it wasn't the worst proposal ever but I bet it was pretty close.

I waited until I was about to drop her off at her father's house. At that point, she hadn't started college or moved out yet. I pulled the ring out and just asked, "So, um, you want to get married?" It was not nearly as romantic or awesome as what you would see in a romantic movie or from some guy who had spent months planning some elaborate ordeal. I was 19 and hadn't really thought more than five minutes ahead.

Incredible enough, she said yes so then the real panic started because it was on the condition that her dad gave his blessing. We went to talk to her dad in his living room. I can't remember now if it was the next day or a few days later. He sat in his favorite chair by the fire and we laid it out to him. He was a great man and his only response was "well OK," which if you knew him he was a man of few words and that was about the best you could hope for.

Now that all of that was settled I told my parents everything was a go. For those of you who don't know my mom, which in Amarillo is probably not very many, she pulled the wedding together, I am going to say, in an afternoon. Making the near impossible happen is one of her specialties. Even today if she hears one of us is sick, she will make chicken soup from scratch in five minutes and it will be nearly a gourmet affair.

She lined up the church, the preacher, the bride's and groom's cakes and the reception so all my wife and I had to do was the wedding dress and honeymoon. I only had two weeks of leave before I had to report to Germany so time was of great importance. My wife may not have had the fairy tale wedding she might have hoped for, but she can clean and box a wedding dress better than most.

We are still in need of new socks and underwear for our seats and feats drive with Colorful Closets. We are thankful for the people who have already donated. The Amarillo community always amazes me at how well it will help those in need.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at dochecleanersamarillo.com

Being a dry cleaner is an interesting and challenging job. Sometimes I feel like the old Dunkin Donuts commercial "time to make the donuts." The day starts at 6 a.m.. You have to get the boiler going and the air compressor before any of the pressers arrive so it is at temperature and pressure by the time they get here. I have to get loads of laundry and dry cleaning ready so that when they are ready to press they have several garments waiting and ready. One of the most interesting things about dry cleaning is there is nothing really dry about the process. It actually refers to the fact that an alternative liquid besides water is used.

There are several options to choose from in today's market. We use a man made chemical that used to be the dry cleaning staple because it cleans the best, however, it is one of the more expensive options so most dry cleaners have changed to other chemicals. The dry cleaner itself is really like a giant washer that washes and dries the clothes.

It is referred to as a dry to dry system meaning the clothes go in and come out dry. You have to separate the clothes by light and dark colors and also by how delicate they are. You cannot dry clean blue jeans with delicate blouses otherwise the jeans will possibly rip or ruin the blouses. The clothes are then pressed on dry cleaning-specific presses designed for blouses or suit jackets using a mixture of heat, steam and pressure to release the remaining wrinkles.

Most people don't know this, but on the laundry side of dry cleaning the men's button-up shirts and blue jeans are actually pressed while they are still damp. The laundry presses are much hotter than the dry clean presses and they dry the garments while they are being pressed. This is why shirts and pants sent to the dry cleaner have a much better finish than what most people can achieve with a home iron.

It is also interesting that the starch is added in the wash cycle which is why you cannot have a heavy starch press only shirt. The make of the garment also plays a large role in how it takes starch. Synthetic fibers such as polyester will not stiffen like a 100 percent cotton garment will.

After all of the pressing and cleaning is done for the day, a dry cleaner's day isn't done. You have to begin getting ready for the next day and make sure customer orders are complete or if there is a garment that needs additional attention for stains. You have to decide what process you are going to use on the garment to try and get the stain out and make sure that gets taken care of so the order is still ready in a timely fashion. Customers have high expectations from the places where they do business, and it's up to business owners to do everything they can to meet those expectations and challenges.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at dochecleanersamarillo.com

The surprising thing about having kids is the ridiculous things you will do to make them happy. When my oldest was about 4, we decided that every kid deserves a dog so we acquired a beautiful golden retriever. He was the cutest little puff ball with these ginormous feet.

Over the years he, of course, got much bigger and because of his great personality was certainly a part of the family. My daughter and I would take him for walks and to the park to play fetch. One time when he was about a year old or so I let my daughter hold the leash while we were walking. He saw a squirrel and took off after it. I know it's kind of mean but I remember as soon as the end of the leash hit my daughter launched two feet in the air horizontal so her feet were up in the air where her head was.

It was devastating for her, but once I knew she was OK, I had the hardest time not laughing. He would smile when he met new people, which really made them nervous especially pizza delivery guys or mailmen. He would let us hug him when we cried or just be there for whatever we needed as a family. About two years ago he started having organs fail and they ran all sorts of tests but couldn't pinpoint what was wrong. He pretty quickly passed away. This was very devastating to my two daughters.

He had been a part of the family as long as either of them could remember. One day several months later, my daughters convinced me we needed another dog so we loaded up in the car and adopted a sweet little black lab. She on the other hand is like my youngest daughter and is just as ornery as she can be. I wonder if animals take the temperament of the ones they grow up with. My oldest daughter is sweet and loyal and tenacious just like our golden was and my youngest is fearless but will get into and try almost anything.


A few months went by and everybody got accustomed to each other when my little sister called and said her barn cat had kittens and wanted to know if we wanted one. My 7-year-old couldn't resist so we got a kitten. I made the mistake of not getting her fixed or rather I just kept meaning to do it and time got away from me so of course she ended up pregnant and had a litter of kittens. Out of the six, my daughters wouldn't let me get rid of four of them. If you are a parent of little girls you will understand how hard it is to say no to those little precious faces when the bottom lip comes out and they just melt your heart. Needless to say I am now in the middle of a cat-tastrophy with five cats, two daughters and a dog.

I think it is the responsibility of small business owners to give as much back to the community as they can. We support a local charity here in town called Colorful Closets. They provide outfits to children in need and organize and distribute tenderly used and new clothing for children and adolescents throughout the Amarillo area. They seek to fill this need for those in our area while also ministering to them with the hope of spreading the love of Christ. With that in mind, this month we are doing a seats and feets drive for socks and underwear. We ask anybody who would to bring new socks and underwear in any size to either our Paramount or 34th and Bell locations. Thanks in advance for helping us support this cause.

Dry cleaning is an unusual business. I think there are few people who dream of being a dry cleaner growing up or at least it wasn't something I had thought about. I graduated from Amarillo High in 1999 and immediately joined the Army, got married and had a kid. My plan was to be career military mostly because my grandfather had been a career officer.

My wife and I were immediately stationed at a little post in Germany, where we spent the next four years --- or at least she did. I was sent to Kosavo, Bulgaria, and finally as a part of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Needless to say when my initial five years was up we realized I had only been around for about six months of our then 4-year-old daughter's life.

So I didn't reenlist and instead we went to college. Then in 2010 I had the opportunity to go to Afghanistan and instruct the special forces on how to be soldiers and set up supply lines. It was an interesting time we lived on small forward operating bases and often times on Afghan bases. After four years or so, we decided it was time for me to come home. We wanted to achieve the dream of owning our own business, which is how we ended up becoming dry cleaners.
The first year was absolutely hectic. We had to learn everything involved from scratch with very little experience.

Luckily enough the first one we bought was just a small cleaners and it gave us the opportunity to learn every position from pressing suits and suit pants to blue jeans and men's shirts. We also had to learn the difference between man-made materials such as spandex and natural materials such as cotton.

Each material and even what weave is used to make the garment makes a difference on how it should be processed from the way it is cleaned to the way it is pressed. Several years and lots of experience later we can tell nearly everything we need to know just from the feel and look of a garment. If you have any questions I can address feel free to send them through the contact information we list at the end of my column each week.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at dochecleanersamarillo.com

I was a part of the invasion force into Iraq in 2003. You will never understand the might of the U.S. military until you see it lined up at a border about to take over another country. I stood on top of my Humvee and looking as far as the eye could see in every direction were military vehicles and soldiers. We advanced across the country all the way to Tikret and then back down to Baghdad. After taking over the airport and the city, we were tasked with finding and retraining Iraqi police in a suburb of Baghdad.

This was an interesting time because Iraqi police like many other parts of the world do not work at night and will not investigate a crime without monetary incentive from the victims or their families. Needless to say trying to get them to operate like a western police force was difficult.

Thankfully since that time, my daily interactions with people are much more pleasant and as a dry cleaner I get to know each one of my customers and how their lives are and what their preferences are such as starch level or whether they want their blue jeans washed or dry cleaned.

We have some of the best customers, especially when they pull an interesting prank on us. We have a customer who came in and picked up one of his orders. While he was in the shop, he asked what we would charge to clean his chicken suit. This is not a question we get asked every day, as I'm sure you can imagine, so we quoted him a price we thought was fair. He agreed and said he would bring it in next time. The next time he came in we asked about the chicken suit. He advised us that a friend of his had borrowed it and ruined it. Our employees are thought it would be funny to attach some feathers to the outside of his order bag as a memorial to the destroyed chicken suit. A few weeks later the owner received this email from our website dochecleanersamarillo.com:

"Good afternoon!

A few weeks ago I dropped off a handmade comforter to be cleaned. I had forgotten to ask if you could repair a small rip in the material when I dropped it off. Due to this rip, it appears that a large number of feathers flew out of the comforter as it was being cleaned. Normally, this would not be a big deal to me, but these feathers were plucked from exotic western Peruvian peacocks. The feathers are highly valuable due to their many rainbow colors, water resistance, as well as their gentle touch. My hope is that you did not throw these feathers away and that I will be able to stuff them back into the comforter. Please give me a call and let me know if this option will fly with you.

Sincerely,
Rooster Eggelston"


This, of course, turned into hours of the owner looking through all of the recent comforter orders to find a Rooster Eggelston which, from the name, we should have surmised this was a prank.

Several days later the aforementioned customer came in with a new order and asked if we had received an unusual email, which he had sent. Touche, customer, touche.

David Koen as an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaders and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at dochecleanersamarillo.com