Amid the ongoing controversies plaguing professional sports, talking with Cleveland native Joe Jurevicius reveals that not all pro players have pro-sized egos.
"I like to call myself a has-been," says the humble Jurevicius. "My plane landed in 2008."
While his professional career
with teams such as the Browns, the New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks did indeed come to an end in 2008, he was a few years away from an unlikely second act: that of a small business owner dealing in laundry.
"The thing that seems obvious is a steak house or bar," says Jurevicius. "I didn't want to lend a name. I didn't want to just say I was an owner of a business because my name was involved. I literally wanted to be involved in the business. I'm a guy who likes to work."
Hence in 2012, Jurevicius built his first Spins Laundromat at 6912 Lorain Avenue and subsequently opened other locations at 7989 Euclid Avenue and earlier this year at 14930 Saint Clair Avenue.
"One laundromat would literally drive you crazy," says Jurevicius. "You would think that if you doubled or tripled what you had, it would maybe become worse, but it's actually just the opposite," he adds, noting that shopping for supplies in bulk is easier than purchasing the smaller quantities only one location would need.
Earlier this year Jurevicius also launched a full-service laundry pick up and delivery business, WashClub Cleveland
. While he's signed a handful of commercial contracts, including one with Cleveland Hopkins Airport, he's targeting any and all customers and urges people to feel comfortable about someone else, well, dealing with their dirty laundry.
"These are the tee shirts, the underwear - the personal stuff that you wear on a day-in/day-out basis," says Jurevicius. He urges prospective customers to be as comfortable hiring someone to do their laundry as they are hiring someone to plow the drive or mow the lawn.
"I know that for a mother who works all week and has four kids, the last thing she wants to do on the weekend is attack the laundry," says Jurevicius, adding that the same goes for anyone who's short on time and long on tasks. "It's a convenience thing: one less stress for a family or individual."
Services include wash and fold, dry cleaning and tailoring. Customers sign into their account via the website
or a mobile app and tap in their order.
"It's basically letting us pick up [your laundry] and taking care of it so the only thing you have to do is take it out of bag and put it back in the closet."
One cannot help but admire the former NFLer's down-to-earth work ethic. He'll take up the slack when duty calls no matter what the task, be it washing clothes, sweeping up, making deliveries or taking out the trash.
"If you're going to know a business you need to know everything that’s encompassed in that business," says Jurevicius. Being a hands-on boss also garners the respect of his 12 employees and eases communications about what's going well and what isn't.
Jurevicius isn't done yet. He's looking to purchase additional property in as little as a few weeks, although he's mum on details other than to say the parcels he's eyeing are on the "near east side and near west side." He's also toying with finding a warehouse space to house all WashClub activities.
"The goal is to ultimately double or triple the number of employees I have," says Jurevicius. He also hopes to turn one delivery van into a fleet of six or more and eventually "walk away from this business down the road someday and say, 'Man, I accomplished something.'"
Judging from what he's been through, it's hard to imagine Jurevicius won't achieve those goals. His NFL career ended after a devastating staph infection put him through numerous surgeries, which he does not recall with bitterness. Instead he regards his 11 years with the NFL with endearing self-deprecation. "I look at a helmet or a pair of shoulder pads now and I go: no way.
My body aches just looking at them."
While he concedes that the infection was one of the hardest things he's ever gone through, he is quick to add that it pales in comparison to the 2003 loss of Michael, firstborn son to Jurevicius and wife Meagan, who succumbed to a rare condition at just two and a half months old. Ironically, Michael's short life played out amid the Buccaneer's successful 2003 championship season and Super Bowl victory, when Jurevicius was a receiver for the team.
"I tend to put things in perspective," says Jurevicius. "I lost my career to an infection, but I've always been able to keep that in check compared to what I went through with my son."
For now, he's happy to be involved in the ongoing Northcoast renaissance.
"We have a lot of things to be proud of in Cleveland," say Jurevicius. "We're like a sleeper trendy city. I'm just trying to be part of it."