Hometown Hero: the Reeves family
BLUFFTON, Sc. (WTOC) - In Bluffton, a half-century of community growth and the family business that helped fuel it started with one simple question.
“He said, hun, do you think we can do laundry? and I said, I do laundry every day,” said Mary Reeves.
And the Reeves family hasn’t stopped doing laundry since Mary and her husband Jerry started Resort Services Inc. in 1972, originally as a laundry and linen supply company for Sea Pines Resort.
“Bluffton was basically one square mile at that point in time. And the primary revenue for the town came from speeding tickets for people going over 30 mph through Bluffton,” said David Reeves.
But the world had already started to come to the area and the Reeves seized an opportunity in the budding tourism industry, soon serving a 100 mile region from Charleston to Brunswick, adding service to hospitals and restaurants, while growing opportunities in their home town too.
“We went from 80 employees up to 200 employees running a second shift. My father was a big proponent of work, of keeping people working, keeping people satisfied with their jobs. So, I think we’ve done a good job of carrying that forward for him,” said Michael Reeves.
The Reeves’ five sons grew up in the family business and since 1984 have run a complex operation most people only see the results of.
“Your expectations are when you go sleep on a bed in a hotel that that sheet is going to be clean and that pillowcase is clean. Nobody has any idea what goes on behind the scenes.”
And behind the scenes, a laundry isn’t as glamorous as the industries it serves.
“It’s hot, it’s miserable. It’s dirty. Basically, the trucks bring in the dirty linen seven days a week and we have a sorting section. They’ll so the linen per item, then it goes to the washroom floor and from there it goes to the drier system and onto the production floor. And there it’s processed and stacked in carts and shipped out the door.”
That’s been the Reeves’ life for 50 years and a livelihood for employees like Katie Mitchell, who has spent 39 years with RSI after following her mother into the business in more ways than one.
“She was one of the first employees here. I used to come and sit and wait until she got off. And probably around high school, I started working here,” said Mitchell.
“We have been so blessed with our employees. I think our median years of employment is about 25 years.”
So it has been an extended family at the family business of WTOC Hometown Heroes who have contributed to the growth all around them over the years.
“I couldn’t ask for anything better. And I think Jerry would be very pleased, very happy and very proud of what they’ve all done to give this business and keep it going. It’s a wonderment to me that we lasted this long. But hopefully, we’ll keep on going for a little while longer.”
The Reeves family moved to Bluffton from Savannah in 1960, and Jerry started the laundry business after working at Union Camp for more than 20 years.
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