Nestled off the bustling lanes of Route 4 stands one of the finest dry cleaning services in the country. Specializing in high-end couture cleaning, Hallak Cleaners services clients in all 50 states.
"We even have clients that ship us items from overseas," co-owner Joe Hallak says.
Back in 1980, his parents, Joseph Sr. and Marie Louise, were ready to sell. After 14 successful years running the business, they were preparing to close the Upper East Side location. Despite a potential deal with an interested buyer, son Joe stepped in to take over.
"I had to convince my parents I wasn't doing something foolish," Joe says. He told them he had a vision for something bigger.
Something bigger turned out to be 12,000 square feet bigger. In 1983, Joe and his brother, John, bought a second space in Hackensack, and they expanded in 1994 to the current warehouse. The two current vice presidents saw their clientele in New Jersey grow quickly.
In the past two years, the company has invested more than 1 million dollars in updates to the Hackensack location. New additions include a K4 halogen-free cleaning system from Germany and an iOS app with which users can track their garments and the status of each item.
"This app allows you to control your own preferences," Joe says. "You want your clothes boxed and not on hangers? Sure, we can do that for you."
When items are ready, the conveyor system loads the stylish pink-and-black delivery trucks, preparing them for their journey home. The meticulously packaged garments look more like party favors than clean clothes. And Hallak offers free delivery throughout Bergen, New York City, and Greenwich, Conn.
So how much do services at Hallak cost? Joe says they determine the price based on five categories: the item itself, the fabric, the color, the pattern and the label.
"You can't just take a chance with the couture items," he says. "An Armani suit or chiffon gown is going to cost more, since it has to be hand cleaned.
"But you can bring us anything," Joe says. "Stuffed animal or a lamp shade, we can clean it. We have seen some pretty weird things."
Just recently, the brothers branched out and bought a 10,000-square-foot warehouse, where the expansion of their company Bergen Linens is located. The new facility allows them more space to offer linen rentals and cleaning services to restaurants, corporations and private parties.
The Hackensack location employs more than 65 people. They also have a social media, marketing and boutique relations manager, among other specialized positions.
"The work that goes on here wouldn't get done if it weren't for the amazing staff," Joe says. "These people are wonderful"
In order to thank their employees, the family holds various events throughout the year. Those include multiple summer barbecues, a holiday party at the Sheraton, and an annual trip to a Mets game at Citi Field.
The Hallaks are proudest of their employee retention: The average employee at has worked for the company for 14 years.
"We have employees that have worked for us for 35 years," Joe says. "I guess they just like what they do here.
"I love my work here too," he adds. "There is not a morning I wake up where I don't look forward to coming into work."
In his free time, Joe spends his days on the bleachers watching his son's baseball games.
"I can count how many games I have missed on one hand," he says. "That is what is great about owning your own business. I can work when I want to and be there to support him."-
A strong family bond is the basis of this successful company. Despite their father's passing in 1992, the Hallak boys continue to serve their community and successfully run their business. And this year, their mother was appointed as the president of the International Drycleaners Congress. The family's success continues, as Hallak ranks among the top 10 cleaners in the country, and the top 50 in the world.
Hallak's services extend far beyond their storefronts, and the family's involvement within Bergen County has grown over the last few years. A scholarship to a Hackensack student attending Bergen Community College is in the works, as both brothers know the importance of a good education. The company sends care packages to soldiers overseas and holds donation drives throughout the year. And the brothers have partnered with the YMCA to help organize events for young children.
"Our business is big enough and successful that we have the time to do these things," Joe says. "We are very lucky."