The Executive Committee of TRSA’s Board of Directors has unanimously approved the nomination of Steve Larson, Alsco Inc., to receive the association’s highest honour, the TRSA Operator Lifetime Achievement Award. Larson will receive his TRSA Operator Lifetime Achievement Award during the TRSA Annual Awards Dinner on Oct. 17, in conjunction with the TRSA Annual Conference at the Meritage Resort & Spa, Napa, CA.
Larson, a career employee at Alsco who began working for the company part-time as a teenager, is currently vice president of its North American Linen Division. Founded in 1889, Alsco currently employs 18,000-plus people in 14 countries across five continents. Larson oversees the linen, uniform and facility services business in the U.S. and Canada. Alsco is the largest family-owned laundry operator in the two countries.
TRSA President and CEO Joseph Ricci recently informed Larson of the Executive Committee’s decision, noting that, “It gives me tremendous pleasure to notify you that the TRSA Executive Committee unanimously agreed to recognise your contributions and support of the linen, uniform and facilities services industry with the TRSA Operator Lifetime Achievement Award; TRSA’s and the industry’s highest honour. It is bestowed only upon professionals in recognition of their exceptional personal service to our industry and to the associations that serve the industry.”
Larson has come a long way with Alsco. His father served as an engineer at the Portland, OR, location of the company, formerly known as Steiner Corp., and doing business as American Linen. Larson began working there in his high school years, washing trucks on weekends for the company. In 1968, he earned a scholarship created for the sons and daughters of Alsco employees. This program enabled him to work during holidays and summer breaks as a relief route salesperson.
After graduating from Washington State University in 1972, Larson went to work at Alsco’s Portland branch as a production manager and later as service manager. He advanced to the post of general manager at the Tacoma, WA, branch in 1984. Five years later, he relocated to Honolulu, where he also served as a general manager.
In 1997, Larson received another promotion to the post of regional manager for California. He advanced again in 2006 to the post of vice president of the North American Division, the job he continues to hold today. He is based at the corporate headquarters in Salt Lake City.
Long active in TRSA, Larson has served on the Board of Directors and is a regular attendee at Production Summit & Plant Tours and other educational programs. He’s also a past president of the Western Textile Services Association.
In a 2015 interview with Textile Services magazine, Larson answered a question about the industry’s future in an age of automation. He noted that while machinery is growing ever-more sophisticated, success in the linen supply business still requires hands-on dedication from employees at all levels. “Robotics is getting better and better, but this business is a people business,” he said. “We still have to have people that feed and fold and wash and do all the other processes it takes to get our products out with the quality we expect. As far as Alsco is concerned, we commit a lot of resources every year to upgrading our plants and buying more efficient equipment. Because we’re such a people-driven operation, we have to use this resource as effectively as possible.”
Larson is the 15th recipient of this award, which goes back to the year 2000. The inaugural winner that year was the late Tom Hammer of Shasta Linen Supply Inc. Other winners in the last three years have included the late Ron Croatti, UniFirst Corp.; Steve Bryant, Wildman Business Group; and Michael Potack, Unitex.