Born in York at the tail end of World War II, John Shonfeld started his working life with a teaching certificate from Nottingham Bluecoat and Trent University. However, teaching was not to be his metier and he started in the laundry industry in Spring Grove Manchester as a trainee manager, before moving to Sheffield and Lincoln where he spent seven years running the laundry in a psychiatric hospital, expanding the service to 22 hospitals.

A move south saw Shonfeld, married to Sue and in the Portsmouth area working as a plant manager with Initial. He was teaching at night school for three years while running a laundry until, in 1975, he moved from Hampshire to Manchester to set up factories for Sunlight and then Sketchley prior to starting his own laundry in 1979.

The business went from a small unit in 1989 to a purpose-built factory in Dukinfield which was followed by several expansions including the purchase of Hurst Laundry and the unit next door giving 60,000 square feet of manufacturing space.

Shonfeld started Tibard Laundry Services in early 2000. The name Tibard was a choice of names from Companies House. Tibard continued to expand its direct sales, laundry and rental business as well as developing a successful market with Oliver Harvey . The Oliver Harvey chefs wear brand was born out of a desire to produce high quality UK-made chefs wear.

At its peak, the laundry produced up to 100,000 pieces a week but as Shonfeld explains: “In March 2020, Covid-19 struck and a move to manufacturing scrubs, gowns and masks meant we could still keep the business going – and never have we worked so hard. In 2021 we decided to sell the laundry which we did to The Priory Group with all 40 employees keeping their jobs with the bew owner.”

Tibard and Oliver Harvey remain with the original family company group. “Im still involved with both Tibard and Oliver Harvey and my wife Sue and son Matthew are non executive directors and son Rick is the commercial director. We are joined by three non family directors; managing director Ian Mitchell; finance director Denise Shacklady; and manufacturing director Andy Shackleton.”

Shonfeld continues to add to his long list of achievements and initiatives. “I was recently Master of the Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners and also chairing the Education committee at the Worshipful Company of Cleaners and Launderers. We have just seen our first cohorts through the Chartered Practitioners Certificate, a Royal Charter which gives the cleaning industry an award and post nominals. This can also include launderers.

“We have sent more than 50 members on Travelling Scholarships and support the Textile Rental Management Course, as well as leading the NVQ2s with 1,3800 successful candidates. However, there is still lots to do with apprenticeships.

“I’m sorry to say goodbye to all my friends in the TSA – which I founded over 25 years ago – and NLG but with my work and the Worshipful Company of Cleaners and Launderers there is plenty still to achieve.

“The future will be family, campanology, shooting and trips to Bath and Cornwall. I would like to thank all my friends in the industry for their help and friendship over the past five decades or so,” says Shonfeld.