Born the son of Korean immigrants, Paul Woo knows about hard work.
He learned it firsthand, growing up in his parents’ dry-cleaning business in Rochester Hills, Michigan, where they would work 12 hours a day, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday. Paul’s father, Dong, started working at a dry cleaner after moving to the U.S. His boss saw potential in him, and offered to invest in opening his own place where his mother, Junghee, joined him on the shop floor.
A graduate of Michigan State, Paul earned his degree in business administration and accounting. Now, he’s followed in their footsteps and at 26-years-old, manages Kingwood Cleaners for his parents who own the shop, nestled in the heart of the community that bears his shop’s name.
“When we came down here, we thought it was well-placed, in a good neighborhood to start up in,” Paul said. “When the time came and the opportunity lined up, that’s when we decided to come here. I agreed to work with [my father] on this business and it’s been growing, slowly but steadily.”
Kingwood Cleaners provides dry cleaning and laundry services, including washing and pressing, in addition to alterations, tailoring, and leather care. Started in September 2017 when Paul’s parents wanted to escape the harsh Michigan winters, it has quickly become a popular place for Kingwood residents.
The American dream is the obvious story with the Woo family. But it’s also about American ingenuity. Paul took a struggling shop and turned it into a profit-maker. Originally a satellite store where clothes were sent off to a third party to be cleaned, all product is taken care of in-house, increasing revenues.
“When we came here, we fixed up the machines, replaced some machines, and now we’re a fully running plant,” Paul said. “We do all the work on site and the response has been great since. Everyone can tell that the quality has gone up and I think that’s why we’re growing right now.”
The hard work is paying off. Even though other cleaners might be a little cheaper, the attention to detail and customer service is what keeps customers coming back and trusting their garments with Paul. Need proof? Just check out the shop’s Google rating.
“We came out here and checked out the store, and the location was good, but I could see there might be a few issues with the previous owner and how they took care of things,” Paul said. “We’ve really turned it around. We took a 2.7-star rated cleaners and made it a 4.2.”
Paul now works the same schedule his parents did, the work ethic they instilled in him helping him become another successful, young business leader in Kingwood. As owners, the Woo parents are there to support their son, their two decades of experience running a shop on stand-by.
Paul’s main focus is the shop and only keeps Sunday for himself. As a golfer, he hopes to hit the links soon when the weather cools off. Who can blame him if his only day off is used to get some much-needed rest and relaxation?
“I work 69-hour weeks, so the one day off, I just really enjoy spending it for myself,” Paul said. “Sunday is a dedicated rest day.”