State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Family-owned Balfurd Celebrates 85 Years as the ‘Community’s Dry Cleaner’

by on August 24, 2012 11:35 AM

Balfurd has been taking care of pressing business in State College for 85 years.

Today, the dry cleaner keeps customers coming back by combining experience with environmentally friendly techniques and perks such as free pickup and delivery.

Back in 1927, Russian refugee Nathan Balfurd founded his company under the Corner Room in State College, in the space now occupied by Zeno’s. He used a steam pressing machine and a tiny boiler for pressing and tailoring. That same year, Ellis Dry Cleaning Works was launched nearby. In 1966, the two enterprises consolidated and became known as Balfurd Inc.

The Fogelsanger family has been involved with the company since 1952, with current President Bob Fogelsanger representing the third generation in the family-run dry-cleaning business.

“We’re proud to be our community’s dry cleaner,” he said. “It’s a two-way street. We help out the community, and they’ve kept us in business for 85 years.”

Last weekend, Balfurd was a platinum sponsor of the Mount Nittany Medical Center Golf Classic, a fundraiser for the community hospital.

According to Fogelsanger, his company’s commitment to the community is what led Balfurd to become one of the first Pennsylvania dry cleaners to adopt the GreenEarth dry-cleaning process, replacing petroleum-based solvents with non-toxic, odor-free liquid silicone about 10 years ago.

“We’ve always been at the forefront of technology, so we were eager to start cleaning with GreenEarth,” Fogelsanger said. “We saw such great results that within six months we went totally GreenEarth.”

Centre County residents can drop off their dry cleaning at two Balfurd locations, on North and South Atherton streets, or use the company’s free pickup and delivery service. To sign up for the service, go to

Clothes can be put in the bag Balfurd provides and hung on your door or another location of your choosing by 8 a.m. on your scheduled day. Balfurd’s picks up the bag, cleans the clothes and returns them on the next delivery day. Drivers visit the south side of State College on Monday and Thursday, the north side on Tuesday and Friday and Bellefonte and Pleasant Gap on Wednesday.

Balfurd’s puts every piece of clothing through a seven-point inspection after dry cleaning to ensure attention to details like stain removal, pressing and mending, according to the owners.

As a member of the National Cleaners Association, the company continually trains its employees in all aspects of dry cleaning, from fire restoration to preservation of wedding gowns and other heirlooms.

Tracey M. Dooms is a freelance writer in State College and a contributor to Town&Gown.
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