ITU AbsorbTech Celebrates 50 Years in Neenah, WI
ITU AbsorbTech Owners David and Jim Leef with Mayer Dean Kaufert
October 21, 2019
Neenah, WI – ITU AbsorbTech is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its Neenah, Wis. plant on October 23, 2019.
The company will be joined by Mayor Dean Kaufert to commence the celebration with a proclamation from the City of Neenah.
ITU AbsorbTech’s Neenah plant made history as one of the first and largest buildings in the US to be constructed as an industrial laundry facility in 1969.
While other laundries purchased buildings and retrofitted them with equipment, the Neenah plant was built from the ground up and was designed with a strong attitude of doing things environmentally right.
The Neenah plant pioneered innovative systems such as water reuse, wastewater pretreatment,and solar water heating to support the company’s commitment to environmental stewardship.
“Dad was a visionary and built a plant with the size and capacity that could handle innovative processes like overhead gravity and water reuse that he knew were coming,” Jim Leef, president of ITU AbsorbTech, says about second generation owner, George Leef. “It’s incredibly satisfying to look back and see that his vision has come to life.”
The company’s Neenah, Wis. plant launders a variety of products including SorbIts® oil absorbents, uniforms, shop towels, and printer towels, and has processed 750 million lbs. of laundry since 1969.
The roots of the company go back to Minneapolis, MN in 1908 when Harry and George Leef started a company known as Leef Brothers. They began washing and repairing railroad overalls and then got into the business of renting industrial shop towels to manufacturing companies.
ITU AbsorbTech now has 12 locations throughout the US, including five processing plants registered to ISO 14001:2015 by SAI Global.
The company’s zero waste solutions have made a huge impact on Neenah and surrounding communities. Its reuse programs eliminate single-use products that would otherwise end up in a landfill, resulting in a reduction of over 1.4 million lbs. of solid waste per year for manufacturers.
“We’re proud of our history and the vision of service excellence and sustainability that was started by our family back in 1930,” says Leef.
The third and fourth generation of the Leef family are committed to continuing the company’s tradition of Genuine Service Excellence, process and service innovation, environmental stewardship, and community involvement.
“Our company’s steady growth is a testament that we have successfully upheld these values throughout our 100+ years in business.”
Brief History of the Neenah Plant
ITU AbsorbTech broke ground on a new state-of-the-art laundering facility in Neenah, Wis. to keep up with rapid growth through the 1960s.
The Neenah facility added a two-story office, new lunchroom, computer equipment room, vehicle maintenance area, loading docks and water saving system.
The company utilized solar technology and its Neenah plant became the site of one of the largest solar water heating systems in the world.
The company invested in water reuse systems. At the time, ITU AbsorbTech was one of only a handful of industrial laundries to pre-treat waste water and was a pioneer in water reuse.
The company developed and patented a technique in which solvent-contaminated printer towels are processed in a computer-controlled recovery dryer. This environmentally-preferred process prevents harmful VOCs from entering the air, ground, and waterways.
Because of its advanced environmental technology, the company helped guide EPA standards on cleaning printer towels.
The Neenah facility, along with other ITU AbsorbTech facilities, continue to innovate to achieve an even higher level efficiency, quality, and environmental sustainability. One example is the use of Radio Frequency chips (RFID) in uniforms and other products.