On November 4th, 1933, two brothers, Joe P. and Al J. Sohn, founded the Sohn Bros. Laundry, which would later become Sohn Linen Service, Inc.
They purchased a recently closed laundry on Larch St in 1934, and offered family laundry services, dry cleaning services, and linen supply. With an emphasis on quality service and close relationships, what began as a small laundry quickly grew beyond the capacity of their facilities. In 1946 they expanded the building, adding a new washroom and truck garage.
In 1952 Joe bought out Al’s interest in Sohn Bros. Joe, his wife, Tillie, and their sons, Ken and Joe H., expanded the business further over the following decades. Clean Linen Service was offered in the Flint area starting in 1958.
Continued growth demanded even larger facilities, and so in 1960 a new 26,000 square foot plant was built at its present location on Grand River. That same year, family laundry and dry-cleaning services were discontinued.
Joe and Tillie’s son, Jim, joined the business in 1971 as an accountant to help keep track of the growing business.
In 1972, a maintenance garage was added to the plant, and vehicle servicing was brought in-house.
In the fall of 1972 Joe P. Sohn suddenly passed away, and Tillie Sohn was elevated from Secretary of the firm to President of Sohn Linen Service.
In 1976 an addition to the front of the building provided new office space, allowing the old office space to be repurposed for route make-up.
Throughout the 80’s, as the business expanded, the third generation of Sohns, Ron, Sandy, Jerry, and Sally, joined the business and quickly found their places in it. By 1987 Ron had become the new Plant Manager. Jerry worked with Joe H as a Service Manager. Sally was Office Manager and Medical Advisor, and Sandy was Secretary and Director of HR.
As the 80's gave way to the 90s the business continued to expand further and further away from Lansing. Service Areas then included Detroit, Grand Rapids, Mt. Pleasant, and Ann Arbor.
In 1994 a second story was added to the plant, designated for soil sort processing.
In 1995, at 88 years old, Tillie stepped down and Jim became President of the Company. Although Tillie was no longer involved in day-to-day operations, she remained a fixture of Sohn Linen Service and continued to stop into the office at least once a week well into her late 90’s. Tillie passed away just before her 102nd birthday in 2010.
By 2000, it had become clear that the business was once again outgrowing its facilities so a brand new 72,000 square foot building was constructed a mile down the road on Wood Street. The Grand River plant continues to process dirty laundry to this day, housing more washers, dryers, ironers, and folders than ever. The Wood Street plant houses administrative offices, Sales and Service teams, garment sorting, product staging, linen storage, and stockroom.
In 2018 Neil Soper became General Manager of Sohn Linen, the first non-family member to hold the position. Neil helped to pilot the company as the technologies of the 2000s began to change both the operations and administration sides of the industry.
In the late teens, fourth generation Sohns, Kalli, Krista, and Travis entered the business, bringing the total number of family members working for the company to seven.
Ninety years after the vision of Joe, Al, and Tillie originally took shape, there are three active generations of Sohns on the Board of Directors, maintaining the company’s commitment to providing quality service and stewardship. We can’t wait to see where the next ninety years will take us!
The original Sohn Bros logo
The Sohn family posing for a picture in front of one of the original Sohn Bros delivery trucks.
A letter of recommendation from the Greater Lansing Restaurant Association praising Sohn Linen on the quality of their service and merchandise.
Joe P. and Tillie Sohn helping a customer.
The Sohn Linen Service Plant on Grand River. When built in 1960, the then 26,000 sq ft plant was the single operational facility for the company.
Doug Reeves, a Customer Service Representative, pumps gas from the on-site pump at the Grand River plant.
An arial view of the Grand River Plant in the 90s. Here, additions have been made, doubling the size of the original building.
In 2002 the Wood Street plant was built just about a mile away from the Grand River plant. Here, clean linens are processed, stored, staged, and loaded for delivery. This facility also houses the administrative offices and garment department.
As the technology of the 21st century shapes the world, so has it shaped the laundry industry. Garment sorting systems, tunnel washers capable of laundering 1400 lbs of linen in less than a half an hour, and smart dryers are just some of the new technologies that power Sohn Linen Service.