Man's Dry Cleaning Business A Lifetime Achievement

Says Key To His Success Was Willingness To Sacrifice

May 06, 1991|By Staff report

Bruce E. Williamson's successes in the business world certainly could fill that book he wants to write about what it takes to make it.

But ask him for the key to success, and he'll boil it down to just one sentence.

"Any individual can do anything in life that he chooses, if he has the will and he makes the sacrifices," the 73-year-old Annapolis businessman says.

Sometimes, making sacrifices means socking money away instead of spending it, maintaining an old lifestyle rather than splurging on a new one, he says.

A strong will has allowed Williamson to build a successful, family-owned dry cleaning and tailoring business, expand into real estate management, raise a family and donatetime and ideas to his town.

And now, his drive to be the best hasbrought him one more thing, a special Lifetime Achievement Award from the Anne Arundel Trade Council.

For Williamson, last week's award could mean a boost to business at his 20-year-old Snow White Cleaners in Eastport. It most certainly will mean an unexpected chapter in the book he'd like to write about his life.

"It was quite a shock," he said. "It was a surprise to me."

The trade council bestowed the one-time honor to mark its 40th anniversary. The award went to Williamson for being "a steady inspiration to others," chamber officialswrote.

The writer of a letter nominating Williamson agreed.

"Unfortunately, the vast majority of Mr. Williamson's community contributions go unnoticed," the letter writer said. "Unnoticed, I should say, to the majority of us, but not to the many individuals who are in need of food, clothing or money. He contributes an immeasurable amount to them."

Williamson had worked in the dry cleaning business for30 years before buying his own shop.

He went to tailoring school in his native Durham, N.C., and later attended the National Instituteof Dry Cleaning in Silver Spring.

He came to Annapolis in 1958 and worked in dry cleaning shops in Aberdeen. Before he bought Snow White in the Eastport Shopping Center, he managed it for the previous owner for 10 years.

When that owner retired, he sold the business toWilliamson.

Williamson became the first minority member of the board of directors for the trade council, serving 13 years. He also served on the Board of Commissioners for the Annapolis Housing Authorityduring the 1970s and on the Annapolis Planning and Zoning Committee.

Williamson lives in Annapolis with his wife of 35 years, Clareatta.

He has two sons, Dallas Evans, Snow White's CEO and a Republican activist recently appointed to head the County Planning Advisory Board, and Kenneth Williamson, who manages Snow White. Williamson and Evans also run a residential real estate company, called Century Properties.

Though he will pass his business down to his sons when he retires, Williamson says he's not ready just yet. The family is preparing to open two more stores.

"I can afford to retire, but the business is so good," he said. "I want to be involved."

The trade council also recognized other business people at its annual membership meeting Thursday, including:

* Joe Conte, president of J&A Builders/Conte Building, who won 1991 Business Leader of the Year. The trade council honored Conte for organizing or chairing golf tournaments and fund-raisers for the trade council, the Leukemia Society, The American Cancer Society, St. Mary's High School football team, Anne Arundel Community College Scholarship Fund and the Wellness Community.

* Michael T. Rose Associates, which won the President's Award, for contributions by two of the developer's representatives. Bob Kaufman has volunteered as chairman of the trade council's Economic Development Committee, while John Dodds has chaired the trade council's LegislativeAffairs Committee.

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