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Getting it straight at Patrus

Photo by Kaitlin Mullins / The Unipress Hurricane machine is a fully automated hi-tech shirt pressing machine that can press 120 shirts an hour. It is used at the Patrus dry cleaning location on East Monticello Street.

Photo by Kaitlin Mullins / The Unipress Hurricane machine is a fully automated hi-tech shirt pressing machine that can press 120 shirts an hour. It is used at the Patrus dry cleaning location on East Monticello Street.

“When we’re pressing shirts, people think you just use an old iron — we don’t do that,” said Rusty Yates, president of Patrus Cleaners. “That’s not been done since they did Jesus’s robes with a rock.”

Patrus Cleaners is owned by Brookhaven residents Rusty and Patsy Yates, the company title being a combination of their names.

“My wife’s name is Patsy, and my name is Rusty — I like to tell people it’s Latin for the Roman god of dry cleaning,” he said.

They own the only two dry cleaning locations in town, and they have a brand new machine that automates shirt-pressing like never before.

“It can do with two people up to 120 shirts an hour,” Rusty said. “We shoot for 80 an hour because you can take your time and put out a little better quality product. One person can do 50 to 60 shirts an hour.”

The Yateses invested in the Unipress “Hurricane,” a fully automated system that cuts steps and extra machinery out of pressing shirts. It is an impressive, whirring contraption that shows just how far dry cleaning has come in the past 50 or so years.

“It really allows us to increase the speed of our production and improve the quality of the garment,” Rusty said. “The unit we had before it used three different pieces of equipment to accomplish the work of one.”

Besides the absence of pinches by the sleeves of shirts, technology has allowed hi-tech dry cleaners to really change the whole game. The paper tickets are long-gone and have been replaced by barcodes that tell exactly who the garment belongs to, his or her preferences, how many times the garment has been cleaned and who cleaned it among other things.

“It’s improved our ability to track and keep up with garments a whole lot better,” Rusty said.

The Patrus owners have acquired 19 dry cleaning locations since they initially took over Ed’s Cleaners on East Monticello Street and Quality Cleaners on East Court Street in August 2008.

“Quality Cleaners and Ed’s Cleaners date back to the ‘50s,” Rusty said. “They’ve got long histories even though we’re relatively new keepers of them.”

Locations include Tylertown, Natchez, McComb, Magee, Jackson and more. Because of the Yates’s utilization of technology, customers can drop off garments in one location, McComb, for instance, and pick up at another, like the Brookhaven store.

But what happens if you forget to pick them at one of the locations? Customers will get calls after 45 days, 60 days, 90 days and at 120 days garments are typically moved to a central location, but not always disposed of by then. However, around that time there is absolutely no guarantee the clothes will be available.

“I have tons of clothes,” Rusty said. “In fact we donate a lot of clothes to the School of the Arts, to Outreach Ministries, to churches. It’s amazing to me the garments that people will leave. You wouldn’t believe we have wedding dresses we have formals we have Macy’s suits, Tommy Bahama and Polos — all good, brand name stuff that people leave… but we do our best to try and let them know.”

For more information, visit the dry cleaning company’s website at patruscleaners.com.