From Intern to CEO of Tide Cleaners
Katie Kool, a mother, wife, daughter, friend, mentor, and CEO of Tide Cleaners. Katie is a woman who wears many hats, both personally and professionally. A native Midwesterner, she’s maintained a steadfast career with Proctor & Gamble after taking a leap with a summer internship. When she isn’t dedicating herself to growing Tide Cleaners, she’s the proud finance director of a Haitian nonprofit that has given hundreds of schoolchildren a brighter future and provides clean water to their community.
With more than 25 years at Proctor & Gamble, Katie Kool, CEO of Tide Cleaners, has proven herself a proactive leader and visionary gamechanger. Katie has surprised even herself with her long and abundant career that started with an internship.
With a double major in psychology and economics, she decided to pursue her MBA at Washington University in St. Louis. During that time, she began an internship with Proctor & Gamble in finance and accounting. From there, her prosperous, life-long career began.
“At P&G, they pushed me to be a master in finance and accounting,” said Katie, “But that wasn’t all. I became exposed to every aspect of the business. I’d work on the floor with producers. I’d work with sales and learn firsthand about our customers. I had the opportunity to work in marketing and research and so much more. I never stopped learning.”
Rising rapidly in ranks, Katie advanced from her summer internship into positions like Laundry Financial Analysis Director, America’s General Ledger, Affiliates Senior Director, Global Operations Sales Finance Director, and Investor Relations Vice President. Now the current CEO, it’s safe to say Katie has worn many hats in this industry-leading company.
Her influence is undeniable. What started as only 35 Tide Cleaners locations when Katie joined the team has now skyrocketed to 187 stores, 16 cities with locker drop-off locations, a presence on 27 college campuses, and is only growing.
Adjusting and Growing in the Face of Challenges
The dry-cleaning industry is making strides after being stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic. While working to navigate the effects that the virus had on the world, Katie and her team decided to reinvent and rejuvenate dry-cleaning by leaning heavily into seeing how technology could help the customers they serve.
“ ’Life, not Laundry’ was born because we recognize everyone needs clean clothes, but everyone is also hungry for convenience,” says Katie. “We believe that through technology and excellent service we’ve created a solid foundation built to thrive.”
Throughout Katie’s extraordinary career, she has made it her mission to turn Tide Cleaners into the nation’s leading on-demand dry cleaning and laundry service franchise. Even before COVID-19, Tide was brimming with ideas of contactless features to benefit customers’ convenience.
Just one of their many services that were ahead of the curve is the wash-and-fold option. The service gives people their valuable time back to spend with their families and friends. Customers can drop off their dirty laundry and pick it up with their belongings washed and ready to be put away. With services like this one, Tide Cleaners is changing how they interact with their customers’ daily lives.
“Our intention is to make the act of dry-cleaning easy. We want to make the act of cleaning clothes an easy one,” said Katie. “It’s why we offer drive-thru and drop-off lockers. There’s no reason for the dry-cleaning experience to be stressful. Our ultimate goal is to provide our guests with simplicity, directness, and quality.”
Tide Cleaners is a brick-and-mortar dry cleaning and laundry facility based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Tide, in partnership with Agile Pursuits Franchising Inc., a subsidiary of Proctor & Gamble, opened its first Tide Cleaners location in 2008. Some things that set Tide apart from the rest are 24-hour access to drop off and pick up clothes, valet service at your car door for your convenience, and all the proprietary processes and products that make Tide Cleaners the most trusted name in the cleaning industry.
Becoming a Great Leader
Katie is a firm believer that the best leaders are the ones who understand how the company works from the ground up. There’s a difference between reading a job description and having a fundamental understanding of how things work via experience. Katie prides herself on being a “learner.” For an industry that’s been around a long time, it’s important that she not get caught up in the mastery and mundane of the business. She makes it a priority to constantly challenge herself and the status quo.
“It’s important to not be a ‘knower’ in the industry, but to always be learning,” said Katie. “To me, when you really listen and hear what your employees are telling you, it’s when you can create solutions that really work and that leads to a greater chance of thriving.”
In her professional life, Katie says Tide Cleaners is her greatest success. She takes a lot of pride in being able to watch the company grow. Katie acknowledges that she, and her team, built Tide Cleaners on the shoulders of giants and always understood the standard that was set. However, with methodical growth, Katie is incredibly proud of her company and the leaps it has grown.
In her personal life, Katie is most proud of being a finance director for a nonprofit. Aside from being a mother, Katie considers being a part of building a school for more than 300 children in Haiti one of her greatest accomplishments. Not only did they build an entire school that serves pre-k to 9th grade, but they also provide the town’s water supply. Because of Katie and her husband’s hard work, they’ve created a future for hundreds of children and provided a safe place for community members to gather.
Honoring Those That Have Made an Impact
Something that sets Tide Cleaners apart from other companies is their intention to promote women in leadership. Katie is honored and humbled to work alongside thought-provoking and empowering women. Ashley Battle is the current COO of the company, while Megan Colvin is the CFO. Both are committed to growing the company and excited to watch it prosper under Katie’s leadership.
Personally, Katie has many role models that have helped mold her into the boss she is today. Three who have given her constant inspiration come to the front of her mind; her dad, her partner in Haiti, and her mentor at Proctor & Gamble. Her dad has shown her all her life how to always do what’s right. Her partner in Haiti, Gabirlle Arel, helps to inspire her with her work ethic and dedication, and her mentor Terry Listoll, has been a mentor towards her since her first assignment at P&G. Katie says Terry often displayed more faith in her than she did herself.
As an agent of change, Katie Kool brings creative business thinking into her organization, which attracts great people to her team. Katie makes it her mission to ensure a safe, accountable, and supportive atmosphere that aims to benefit every aspect of business and growth, no matter if you’re an employee or a potential franchisee.