When the California Cleaners Association awarded Sajid Veera with its prestigious Drycleaner of the Year Award at Fabricare 2018, it was the culmination of a long journey by the owner of Door to Door Cleaners and his family.
The Veera family, consisting of Sajid and his brother Habib and their parents, Yasin and Yasmin, originally hailed from Bombay (now Mumbai), India, where they launched entrepreneurial ventures ranging from juice/ice cream bars called Canteena to a frozen food brand called Lazeez in the 1980s.
Looking for more lucrative opportunities, they eventually relocated about 8,700 miles away to Redondo Beach, CA, and started a drycleaning business in 1993.
“We all started it together,” Sajid said, “and it doesn’t make sense for me to get the award when all of us equally have done everything with the business.”
Now, the business is in its 25th year and has expanded to include a 15,000-sq.-ft. processing facility with about 50 employees to handle work from ten locations along with pickup and delivery service. While the scope of the business has changed some, the core values have remained the same.
“We don’t focus on price. We always focus on quality,” Sajid said. “When we opened in 1993, we found out that our nearest highest-priced competitor was charging like $3.50 for a pair of pants at that time. We said, ‘You know what? We are going to charge a dollar more than what they are charging, but our quality and our service and everything that goes along with it is going to be far superior to theirs. We are going to blow them out of the water.’ That’s been the philosophy from that time on.”
Over the years, the Veera family business has joined America’s Best Cleaners and the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists. Their efforts to be more environmentally friendly has also earned them several distinctions, including an Environmental Hero Award and a SEED Award from the South Bay Business Environmental Coalition.
The company has also fostered a reputation for being one of the best in the industry. It is a daily battle to keep on top of their brand, especially in a time when anyone can post complaints online.
“We never get complaints about our customer service. We never get complaints on our quality. The only complaint we get is on price,” Sajid noted. “Whenever that happens, my standard answer to a customer who complains about price is ‘I’d rather you complain about price than you complain about quality.’”
In terms of earning the award, Sajid chalks it up to all of his family’s hard work and focus. The company must always comes first.
“We don’t have an extravagant lifestyle. We have a decent lifestyle, but everything we make we put right back into the business,” he emphasized. “That’s what has contributed to our success.”
It doesn’t hurt that Sajid himself is rarely satisfied. He considers himself a perfectionist and is always looking for ways to improve Door-to-Door Cleaners. Still, he realizes he is just one aspect of the overall formula for success.
“This award is not a reflection of me. It’s a reflection of the entire family who put the work in,” he said. “It’s awesome to be the best drycleaner in California.”