By Christopher Gillett
Lamar Gilford has been working at Youngstown State University for 17 years. He was recently inspired to start a new mobile laundromat business to help disadvantaged people around Youngstown.
Gilford is a YSU staff member, currently holding the position of site manager for Core Facility Services. The company he works for does janitorial work around campus, cleaning the bathrooms and buildings.
Lamar’s new business, Mr. Mar’s Wash and Dry, is a mobile laundromat he started in April. He was inspired to start the business during the pandemic after having a dream one night and waking up “in sweat and cold.”
“I had a dream that I was doing something to help out with the pandemic. My dream was the push to figure out: What can I do here to be able to help the world out?” he said. “I wanted to be different so I had to figure out real hard and think real whole, what would be different in the world and is actually helping people with the pandemic? The first thought in my mind was laundry.”
Gilford remembered his employees stories about struggling with laundry for years, and the toll the pandemic took on them.
“I had six employees that got sick going to laundromats, six employees that we had to let … quarantine for 14 days,” he said.
He operates out of a bus and services those who cannot access laundromats due to reasons such as danger, poverty, injury, disability or age. Gilford purchased the bus in April from a man in Cleveland who had been using it to bring people to church.
According to Gilford he was “blessed” to receive the bus from the man, who after learning what he planned to do with it, lowered the price.
He redesigned the inside of the bus to include two washing machines, a dryer, a water tank, two televisions and three lounge chairs. This will allow customers to entertain themselves or work while their laundry is being processed. He gets his water from the water department and his electricity from a generator.
Because Gilford is close to campus, he hopes to appeal to YSU students.
“In regard to the YSU students, I feel like it would be a big help for them to actually stay here on campus and they don’t have to go farther out to the bigger places,” he said. “They don’t have to go out worrying about getting robbed or worried about somebody taking stuff from them, [or] being in bad environments.”
He has had limited success with YSU students so far, but according to him “I would love to be able to get these students help.”
Gilford spoke on his ambitions to expand the business across the country.
“I hope to achieve to be nationwide and public and branch off to different cities and states. I’m hoping that everybody will actually like it,” he said. “My biggest goal is to have contracts so that I can just branch off.”
If anyone would like to contact Lamar Gilford about Mr. Mar’s Wash and Dry, you can call (234) 855-5638 or email [email protected]