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Lighthouse Laundry is powered by family ties | Business Buzz
Personal life and work careers can intertwine, resulting in unforeseen successes in both.
This is the case of a Federal Way married couple Patrick Montgomery, a college teacher, and Laurie Montgomery, a certified preschool teacher, who combined their personal goal of starting a family with important career changes.
“I never dreamed of owning a laundromat,” said Patrick Montgomery, who still commutes regularly to Seattle to teach college classes.
When the couple started looking for a business to own that could provide lost income when Laurie stayed home with the children, their career paths took a new twist.
After researching opportunities, the couple calculated that a laundromat could provide what they needed in their family: A flexible work schedule, additional income and sufficient time for family activities, such as a summer vacation.
With their financial plan in hand, they bought their first coin-operated laundromat, Lighthouse Laundry, in Tacoma’s Westgate South Mall 10 years ago. The company’s name was inspired by a biblical verse, Patrick Montgomery said.
During the business startup, they traveled to Cambodia to adopt their first child. After four months, they were pleasantly surprised and elated when they returned home with two bundles of joy — twin boys.
Four years ago, the couple acquired a second laundromat, Lighthouse Laundry II, located at 1905 SW Campus Drive in Federal Way. The 1,400-square-foot space had formerly been occupied for 23 years by another laundromat. The couple remodeled the space with light colored interior paint, vinyl flooring and 42 new high performing, energy efficient dryers and front-load washers.
“Larger families especially like our big washers and dryers because they can do four or five loads at one time, saving water, time and power,” Patrick Montgomery said.
Maintaining a clean, well-lighted and friendly environment for customers is also a high priority, he said. Soap supplies, bill changers and vending machines that dispense snacks and beverages are also available for customer convenience.
When asked where he learned his entrepreneurial and income diversification skills, Montgomery remembered his boyhood.
The youngest of six children, Patrick Montgomery grew up in a small town in upstate New York where his father was a pastor. The family ate the fruits and vegetables they grew on a one-acre plot. They raised and sold pigeons, and his mother taught elementary and high school.
Looking ahead and planning for the future, Montgomery’s father retired as a minister to sell Electrolux sweepers to earn Social Security benefits. Perhaps, his father got that idea from his own father (Patrick’s grandfather), who sold horseless carriages.
Today, three generations later, the 10-year-old Montgomery twins are learning some of these same practical lessons in adaptability and flexibility as they tag along with their parents during laundromat visits.