Star Brite Cleaners
In the spring of 1983, Andy Kocher and Kelly Blake were students at Midwestern State University. Both were enrolled in an entrepreneurship class in dire need of a class project by midterm. Eventually, they decided on a dry-cleaning business. Even though they only received a B on the project, they decided to do more research. After several months, they committed to their dream of owning their own business. On October 1, 1983, at 23, Andy and Kelly opened their first store in Wichita Falls. By 1992, they had opened five stores in Wichita Falls.
In 2003, Andy and Kelly sold the original five stores in Wichita Falls. These stores were franchise stores, which helped them learn the business model and the dry-cleaning industry. They sold the five franchise stores in Wichita Falls and opened five stores in Austin under the name "Star Brite Cleaners." By 2006, they returned to Wichita Falls and opened two additional locations.
In 2006, they franchised Star Brite Cleaners. Currently, they have two stores in Wichita Falls with 34 employees. Under different owners, there are two additional locations in Austin, Texas, and two in New Braunfels, Texas.
The original director of the SBDC at MSU was a management and an SBI instructor in the 80s. He knew the students' project and referred to it often – it was a classic dream-to-reality story. The partners turned to the SBDC in the summer of 2011 when looking to open additional locations in Wichita Falls. Andy has always been an advocate for the SBDC, but it wasn't until the COVID-19 pandemic that Andy found himself at the SBDC again. The business received PPP funds and applied to the EIDL program. Obviously, with the pandemic and people staying home, the dry-cleaning industry suffered. The SBDC assisted in communicating with the SBA, locating his EIDL application, keeping the partners up to date on new programs, putting them in touch with an SBDC in Austin, and providing an IBIS World Report.
After almost forty years in business, Andy says their philosophy has remained the same, "Treat each customer as we want to be treated and do the best job possible." "Anyone can be mediocre, but to us, it's all about service and quality work at a fair price." They still give the professor a hard time about that 'B.'