LaCarte Enterprises was recognized by The Pittsburgh Business Times as the 2016 Family Business of the Year in the 226 – 400 employee category.
Founded 30 years ago, Model Cleaners is the Pittsburgh Region’s largest family owned dry- cleaning operation with 12 dry-cleaning locations and free pickup and delivery services to more than 70 communities in Western Pennsylvania. Model Cleaners is also the leading provider of home/office pickup and delivery service in the region, with half of their business coming from their free pickup and delivery service.
Model Cleaners has built their business on quality family values since Jack LaCarte opened their first store nearly 30 years ago. Raised on a cattle farm in Indiana, PA, Jack has always worked seven days a week to support his family. It was always Jacks vision to own a family business, and he first executed this vision by putting his family to work on their farm. Due to the economic instability of the 1970’s, the farm was forced to shut down and Jack moved his family to Charleroi, PA to seek other opportunities. Jack continued with his goal and opened a small dry cleaning shop in Charleroi, naming it Model Cleaners.
By 1995, Model had branched out beyond their Dry Cleaning Division. Model also operates a Uniform Rental Division (www.modeluniforms.com), a Model Apparel division (www.modelapparel.com) for companies looking to enhance the image of their employees along with a real estate development division. Model started with 5 employees and now employs over 300 people across all divisions.
Jack continues the tradition through his five sons, who are now part owners of the business. John is president of the overall company. Mike is the corporate controller, Dan is President of Model Cleaners, Joe runs the uniform business and Dave is President of Model Apparel. “Our father taught us that if you take a stick and you break it, by itself it’s easy to break,” John LaCarte said. “But if you take the broken pieces and put them together, it gets more difficult. The more bound together, it gets more difficult” The five of us working together has made us a stronger player in the marketplace. John credits his roots working on the family farm as what helped teach the brothers how to work well side by side. We grew up together when my dad was running the farming operations, this taught us a lot about hard work and what it was to get along and work together. There’s something about growing up on a farm. You have to learn there’s not a lot of people around. If you needed to entertain yourself, you had to get along with your brothers. They were not only brothers, they were your best friends.”
The company has developed a succession plan, although with 13 children in the fourth generation alone ranging from learning to crawl age to college stage, it’s a bit early to identify who the next leaders will be, John said.