Longtime Operator Les Craft Passes Away

Posted September 20, 2016 at 3:29 pm

Two years after he retired from textile services and sold his Houston-based regional company, Admiral Linen, to Alsco Inc., veteran laundry operator Les Craft, 75, passed away on Sept. 15.

Patrick Garcia, president of Division Laundry of San Antonio, recalled Craft as a true friend who helped Division survive a devastating fire 15 years ago. “The day of our early-morning (2:30 a.m.) fire, on June 25, 2001, I made a call to Les around 5 a.m.,” Garcia said in an interview with Textile Services Weekly. “After I explained that we had a loss of our plant, I asked Les if he could take a tractor-trailer load of our Austin hospital accounts, until I could figure things out. Without any hesitation whatsoever, Les committed himself to take the first tractor later in the day and for as long as it would take us to figure things out. On July 1, 2003, we were able to bring the Austin hospitals into our new plant.

“Les was part of our success in helping us get back on our feet, while preserving our integrity and reliability in times of disaster. Les always kept his promises, and I know it created a hardship in his operation to take our work in to help us through those hard times. As my father once told me, ‘You can put your true friends all in the palm of your hand.’ … Les was one of those true friends.”

Another Texas-based operator, Roger Harris of Metro Linen, McKinney, first got to know Craft when Harris was selling laundry machinery. Later, as an operator, Harris was impressed at the skills that Craft brought to the business and his focus on helping the entire industry grow as well has his own company.

“While I was in the laundry equipment business during the ’70s and ’80s, Les Craft was known to be a good knowledgeable laundry operator,” Harris said. “After acquiring Metro Linen some 30 years ago, it quickly became obvious that Admiral Linen would be our largest and best competitor. Competing with Admiral Linen under Les Craft’s management was an incredible challenge and education. 

“Les Craft taught me more about servicing customers and the expectant level of quality than any of my previous years in the industry. When an operator, even a competitor, had a major issue, it was Les or his management team who would reach out and offer assistance. They held the industry in higher regard than their own business. Our industry lost a highly respected leader and a good operator.”

Craft passed away at home with Angie, his wife of 30 years. Born in Greenville, NC, Craft moved to Houston in 1955. At the age of 16, he got a job as a mechanic helper at Admiral Linen. From there, he rose to the leadership ranks, and eventually become president and owner of the company. 

Survivors include a son, Leslie Craft Jr. (Lisa), Kemah, TX; a daughter, Mary Trimble Collins (Ken), Houston; brothers Tommy (Brenda), Houston; Frank (Sharon), Greenville, NC; five grandchildren and several nieces. Interment is planned at Forest Park Lawndale Funeral Home, Houston. Click here for details.