ITU AbsorbTech promotes old-fashioned values, current approaches
Growth expected to continue in 2015

By Katherine Michalets - Freeman Staff

March 14, 2015

James Leef, owner and president of ITU AbsorbTech
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff 

NEW BERLIN - While ITU AbsorbTech Inc. may foster an old-fashioned feeling when it comes to its personal customer service, it has a much more modern feel when it comes to its sustainable practices; however, those energy- and water-saving aspects were part of the original business started in about 1908 by President James Leef’s grandfather George.

So much of what creates ITU AbsorbTech’s identity is just an inherent part of the business, and is not explicitly written out like its approach to creating a corporate culture.

Leef said the company continues to focus on old-fashioned customer service that results in human contact, as well as a culture of teaching and learning.

“People are screaming out to see someone,” Leef said of clients. Clients want to feel like they are being heard, he said, so when someone calls the customer response center, a person answers the phone without the call going to a directory.

ITU AbsorbTech offers certification in customer service. In order to get Genuine Service Excellence certified through the company’s corporate training development center called “AbsorbU,” employees must complete 30 hours of training. Leef said they started the program approximately three years ago with the employees who have the most in-person interaction with customers, but have now extended it to production personnel.

“We believe in teaching people. If you are going to teach, you need to know they have learned it,” he said.

Since George Leef started his own laundering service in 1908, the operations have grown considerably. What would become ITU AbsorbTech was started in about 1930 and has grown to include headquarters in New Berlin and plants in Neenah; Piedmont, S.C.; South Bend, Ind.; and Titusville, Pa., as well as service centers in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania and soon Texas.

“In addition to growth and needs of our current customers, we are seeing a very good increase in new customers we are beginning to service,” Leef said.

During the past few years, he said, he has seen an increase in companies eager to stay in Wisconsin and expand.

To help foster a strong economic environment in Wisconsin, Leef was elected to the Wisconsin Manufacturers Commerce Board of Directors in January.

With about 365 employees, ITU AbsorbTech hopes to continue its tradition of creating a positive corporate culture, offering excellent customer service and helping to reduce waste and save money for clients.