Written from my perspective.
With the end of World War II, the United States saw significant economic growth. Prosperity returned to the American people as many American industries expanded. The dry-cleaning industry was part of that economic growth. Though the process of dry cleaning was not new to that era, the growth was seen as more Americans moved up to “white collar” positions in the corporate world. Many workers attire was made up of fabric that could not withstand a normal cleaning process, and needed to be cleaned with solvents. With dry cleaning, one of the final processes is dry clean finishing. The finishing process includes pressing the clothes and de-wrinkling. That’s where Rema Dri-Vac comes in to play.
Rema. Research, Engineering, & Manufacturing. Founded in 1947 in Norwalk, CT Rema Dri-Vac became the originators of the vertical air vacuum trademarked as a Dri-Vac®. The founders of Rema were innovative in designing new products. Coming up with ways to save valuable manufacturing space, they engineered vertical air vacuums, overhead air vacuums, and dual air vacuums. They were pioneers in an expanding industry.
The Rema Dri-Vac vacuum unit changed the dry-cleaning finishing process. Our Dri-Vacs are a standalone vacuum that allows for multiple steam machines to be hooked up to it. Our machines help to create suction that pulls the steam through the garment, helping to de-wrinkle and form nice creases. As the steam is pulled through the garment, it is sucked into our vacuum condenser tank where it is either vented or condensed into water, in the tank.
In the early 1960’s, my grandfather Bill Petri was given a job opportunity at Rema Dri-Vac. He took the job, bought a house, and moved the whole family from Syracuse, NY down to Norwalk, CT. Bill was a great salesman. He would travel around the United States, promoting and selling our Dri-Vacs. Being very personable, he was very successful at building long lasting relationships and a network of distributors. In 1970, Rema came available to purchase and he jumped on the opportunity.
Bill had three daughters, and in the 70’s and 80’s, he offered his three sons in laws, Jay, Jim, and Barry a job to help expand the business. They knew that they had to diversify and began expanding by manufacturing new products. With time, they created their own versions of a condensate return system with Burks Pumps and blow off separators. Having these new products helped to expand Rema into new markets and grow as a company.
Throughout the 70’s and 80’s, Rema experienced great sales and growth. In the 80’s, Bill experienced another great opportunity to purchase a company. In Norwalk, CT, there was a competitor air vacuum manufacturer. He took this opportunity and bought the B-Vac corporation. This allowed for Rema to take on many new customers and expand our sales, by converting the B-Vac customers over to Rema Vacuums.
By the early 90’s Bill decided to retire and leave the business to sons in laws to run. As a kid, I always hung out at Rema and when I was old enough, I would work in the shop doing odd jobs to make a couple dollars. In 2000, I went away to college, but would always work at Rema during my breaks. After college, I started to put in more hours and being more involved with the daily tasks of running the business. Learning the books, working in the shop, meeting the customers, was all part of my growth. By 2007, I was working full time.
2008 was a tough time for Rema, the dry-cleaning industry, and many markets across the country. The dry-cleaning industry took a big hit and lost thousands of retail outlets, as Americans cut back on their spending. Rema was fortunate enough to pull through and have an optimistic outlook for the future, though the dry-cleaning industry has never fully recovered.
Being Rema, we adapt to changes and look for ways to bring in new business. In the 2010’s we began designing our new Condensate Receiver tanks using Burks Pumps. Being used in the heating and cooling industry, these tanks allow us to attain new customer and expand Rema’s foothold.
Now in the 21st century. Rema is an international brand with a network of distributors on five continents. We continue to strive to be innovative and provide the best customer service. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for Rema and will continue the legacy of what my grandfather did for Rema.