Lifetime Achievement: Watts Emphasizes Industry Solidarity


IRVINE, CA – September 20, 2019

Tom Watts, president of Prudential Overall Supply, Irvine, CA, told a crowd of nearly 200 people at TRSA’s Sept. 19 Awards Dinner during the 106th Annual Conference that he felt like the entire industry should receive recognition for its work. However, he graciously accepted the laundry industry’s highest honor, the Operator Lifetime Achievement Award, thanking his wife, Marcy, and Prudential Chairman Dan Clark for their many years of personal and professional support.

Left to Right: TRSA Chairman Jim Buik, Roscoe Co., and Tom Watts, Prudential Overall Supply

“I will say this,” said Watts, in a lighthearted address that capped a 43-year career at Prudential that began in 1975 with a job as a route service representative, “Everybody in this room that I’ve met over the years and people that aren’t in this room that I’ve met over the years, they’ve been so willing to help I almost feel like it’s the entire industry that should get this award.”

He quipped that he’d take custody of the award, noting that, “I’ll keep it for you. But anyone that wants to come see it, you can come see it.’

Speaking of industry unity, he noted that while fiercely competitive, commercial laundry companies in California do look out for each other when crises such as natural disasters strike the Golden State. “In California, we have earthquakes and every once in a while freeways collapse, bridges go down and it’s devastating,” Watts told the crowd gathered at the Hyatt Regency Boston Harbor near Logan Airport. “But every time we’ve been in one of those situations, we’ve gotten calls from competitors, people that we compete with every day on the streets, saying ‘If you need any help, call us. We’ll do whatever you need. People have actually reached out and said, ‘Look, we want to keep you in business. It’s good for the industry. We’ve very much appreciated that.”

Watts appreciates Marcy and their two children as well, though the latter two work on the West Coast and were unable to attend the program. “They’re working for a living,” he said, adding with a laugh, “That’s good. They’re not on my payroll.”

In thanking his wife, Watts noted that a career as an executive in the laundry business requires many long hours and dedication. Marcy’s help was a key ingredient to Watts’ success he said.  “There’s a number of people I want to say thank you to,” Watts said. “First and foremost is my wife Marcy for her support and understanding. As many of you in this business know, it’s not a 9-5 job, it’s an all-day career. So I want to thank her for her support.”

With a touch of self-deprecating humor, Watts also thanked Clark and his wife Laura “for keeping me around for all these years.”  Watts, who rose through the ranks at Prudential from a route manager, sales and service manager, general manager, operations manager and finally, as president of the family-owned company, reflected on his many long drives with Dan to visit customers, an experience he found both challenging and rewarding. Watts joked that he also should be recognized for enduring those many trips over the years. “We spend 5-6 weeks on the road together visiting every one of our locations, putting on a state of the company meeting as well as explain to our employees about our profit-sharing and 401 (k) plan,” he said. “It’s extensive it’s time-committing, very grueling. But let me just say this: If you’re in a car with someone for 10 solid hours, driving from Tucson to El Paso, Texas, and back the same night and having two meetings and listening to Abba and Judy Collins round and round. Just that, I deserve some kind of award but …”

On a more serious note, Watts thanked Clark “primarily for surrounding me with some of the best people that we’ve ever found in the industry or anywhere that just make me look good. I’ve been fortunate enough to have them line up some great people, talented people that we’ve had over the years. It just makes the job that much easier.”

Watts concluded with kudos to the industry at large, including vendors, as well the association. “Thank you to the industry, TRSA members, staff, all of the suppliers, all of the vendors in the room that have supported Prudential over the years,” he said. “You have made the job much more pleasant and easy to earn this award. Thank you very much.”

See the recent feature by the TRSA.

Release date: 09/20/2019

Contact: Jerry Martin, V.P. of Sales & Marketing (949) 250-4850 ext 275

By: Jerry Martin, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Prudential Overall Supply

About the author

Jerry Martin is the Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Prudential Overall Supply, a leading provider of workplace uniforms and personal protective equipment (PPE) to a wide range of industries and organizations. Currently a board member for the American Reusable Textile Association (ARTA) where he works on projects to further the benefits of reusable textiles versus disposable alternatives. Martin also contributes to the Textile Rental Service Association (TRSA) where he is a former chairman of the association's Marketing & PR committee and helped establish TRSA’s international standard for its Clean Green certification program.