I am a Speed Queen brand ambassador. I have not received any compensation for this post. Please note that, as always, any personal opinions reflected in this post are my own.
I’ve heard a good number of cliche sayings over the years. Many aren’t totally accurate, but some are spot on. One of the sayings I’ve probably heard the most is “they don’t make ’em like they used to.” I’ve heard this said about everything including appliances, cars, clothing, food and more. And often, it’s true.
Recently I looked into purchasing a new microwave. When I asked about the price of an extended warranty, the sales rep quoted me a price that cost almost as much as the microwave. It wasn’t something I’d get. I think this is becoming more typical. I think some manufacturers are purposely making appliances to be disposable. Remembering my mom’s old washer and dryer, I hear “they don’t make ’em like they used to” echoing in my head. But that isn’t entirely true, because Speed Queen does.
If you’ve ever done laundry in a laundromat, hotel, college, apartment complex, nursing home, hospital, military barrack or jail then chances are you’ve probably seen Speed Queen products. The brand, which came to be in approximately 1928, supplies approximately 80% of the commercial laundry space in this country. They have the number one market share in the commercial space. I remember the first time that I saw the brand. I was 19 years old and living in a dumpy apartment that had no laundry room. I hated going to the laundromat, but always considered myself lucky to have one near me that had machines that worked and worked well. I did notice the name, but had no idea of what a commercial laundry powerhouse company they were. As I have since learned, approximately 85% of Speed Queen’s revenue comes from their line of commercial products. With numbers like this the machines have to work and be reliable.
How does a company get such a large piece of a market space and hold it? That’s simple. They build machines that are reliable and dependable. That’s how they’ve always done it and that’s how they plan to keep doing it. About 1,250 hourly employees keep the plant of almost 1 million square foot in Ripon, Wisconsin running smoothly. The plant, which I toured recently, has just undergone it’s 46th expansion. It has a daily output of approximately 3,000 total units (spread across 82 products). I sort of expected to see a lot of robots on the manufacturing line, which wasn’t the case at all. Speed Queen products are made here in the US by trained workers. If I recall correctly, there was only one area of the plant where a task was automated.
Right about now you may be wondering what the best-selling commercial washers and dryers have to do with you and I, residential consumers. The answer to that question is really simple. Speed Queen residential washers and dryers are the same as the commercial models, with the exception of a few labels and a difference in the control panel. The “heart and soul” of both residential and commercial Speed Queen products is the same.
When designing any product, Speed Queen does extensive testing. And when I say extensive, I mean REALLY extensive. Every Speed Queen model goes through approximately three years of design, development and testing. A typical washer or dryer that you find in a big box store is tested for about 2,500 cycles, which is approximately 6 years of typical use in a home. Speed Queen washers and dryers are tested for 10,400 cycles, which is approximately 10 years of typical use in a home.
I remember learning how to do laundry as a child. It was back in the 70s. We had a big washing machine and dryer down in the laundry room at our house. I dropped something behind them on more than one occasion and remember finding out how heavy they were when I tried to move them a little. I remember the insides all too well. Gray speckled metal. None of the plastic stuff that you see more and more of these days. The metal was a big part of what made the machine so heavy.
To make product trusted for their reliability, Speed Queen manufactures machines using quality material. For a washer or dryer to withstand hours upon hours of use every day it has to be made of quality materials. Speed Queen machines begin as rolled sheet metal. That’s right, metal. Giant rolls of it. Why metal? It lasts longer than plastic. It also doesn’t absorb odors and such like plastic.
The metal is cut, rolled, stamped, finished and assembled at different stations throughout the plant.
Once the product is fully built it is turned on to be sure it works. That sort of surprised me when I found that out. But, having had one or two experiences where I bought a new product and found it didn’t work when I opened the box, I was glad to see that they do this.
Speed Queen products are designed to last a long time. They do cost a little more, but the price difference is quite understandable when you consider the machines are manufactured with durable, quality materials, and that they are built to last a lot longer than your typical big box brand machines.
I learned a lot on my tour of the Speed Queen plant. The pride in product and workmanship was very clear to me. I am very excited to have been chosen to be a Speed Queen ambassador, and to be receiving a Speed Queen washer and dryer later this month. I can’t wait to share my thoughts on the machines with all of you, along with more of the information that I learned.