EMI Grad: ‘Thanks for the Skills … Thanks for the Friends’

Posted August 11, 2023 at 1:04 pm

TRSA’s Executive Management Institute (EMI) held its 58th yearly commencement on Aug. 10, with 14 rising industry leaders graduating after completing the final segment of a four-year educational program for members of the linen, uniform and facility services industry. The dinner program also included remarks from students, faculty and TRSA leaders, plus a witty and well-executed skit performed by Year III students.

EMI was launched in 1965, mainly as a way for the scions of family-owned industrial laundries – many of whom began working full-time after high school – to gain university-level skills in areas such as marketing and finance. Today’s EMI, held annually at the University of Maryland, has evolved into a wide-ranging program. EMI emphasizes both technical and leadership skills, coupled with the development of networking contacts that will endure long after this year’s nearly 150 students complete the program.

“You are absolutely part of something that is historic, but you may not realize it,” said Kent Baker, longtime dean of EMI and a faculty member since 1976. “How fortunate we all are to have associations that have been around for decades that provide educational services and training that are really sort of unheard of. To have people from around the country come together, share their views, their ideas, the diversity that we have. Sometimes we just don’t take enough time to appreciate all the wonderful things that we have.”

TRSA President & CEO Joseph Ricci described how the program has evolved over time to keep pace with the needs of an industry in which many rising leaders already have college degrees. Shortly after his appointment as president in 2010, Ricci said he received a call from a TRSA member and EMI graduate who voiced concerns about the need to strengthen the program for today’s industry leaders. Ricci said he and various members held detailed talks with Baker and other faculty members to fine-tune the program for the 21st century. Their success was on display during the program at the College Park Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, Hyattsville, MD. Ricci added that TRSA is forming a task force to look at the current EMI program and suggest changes for continued improvements.

That’s critical because the industry’s long-term health could hinge on the continued success of EMI. “We will continue to build an education that helps our industry,” Ricci said.  “You look around this room and you see the industry leaders of the future. And I can say that with great confidence over the last few years, I’ve seen the people who have come through this program, and they will be running this industry for the next 20-25 years.”

One such prospect for success who addressed the attendees was Will Maness of Alsco Uniforms, a Year IV graduate. Maness thanked TRSA, the EMI faculty and fellow students for making the program an “unmatched” success. “I can speak for every single person in this group that regardless of where our future takes us, we’re going to be successful,” he said. “And a large part of that is due to EMI.”

Like other speakers, Maness thanked the TRSA staff and EMI faculty as well as his fellow students, with whom he’s formed strong bonds of friendship and collegiality. “It’s bittersweet to stand up there for the last time,” he said, adding a sales pitch to Years I-III EMI students to continue the program held each August. “I wish every one of you the best of luck,” Maness said. “Please keep coming back because this is beneficial. … This is meaningful.” He also urged students to thank their companies for investing in them though EMI, “because this is great stuff that we’re doing,” he said. “So come back for Year II and Year III and year IV. It just keeps getting better and better.”

Maness closed by saying he greatly appreciates the memories of his time at EMI, adding, “Thanks for the skills, but more importantly, thank you for the friends.”

For more information on EMI, visit www.trsa.org/emi.