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#WyoStrong: Jackson Family Business Rises From the Ashes

#WyoStrong: Jackson Family Business Rises From the Ashes

Matt Ryan in the new O'Ryan Cleaners.

(Jackson, Wyo.) - Just eight months after Matt Ryan purchased the family dry cleaning business from his grandfather, it was all gone. On the night of December 30, 2015, flames rose from O’Ryan Cleaners in Jackson and Ryan’s business literally went up in smoke.

This Thursday, after perseverance and rebuilding, O’Ryan Cleaners will re-open in the same location, 800 W Broadway in Jackson.

Ryan was inspired to rebuild by the three generations of dry cleaners that came before him. His great grandfather originally started Snow White Cleaners in Wichita, Kansas in the 1920s. Ryan’s grandfather was literally born in a dry cleaners and went on to take over the family business. 

In 1988, Ryan’s grandfather opened O’Ryan Cleaners on North Cache Street in Jackson, Wyoming. He had initially moved to Wyoming to retire, but ended up working in his booming business. Ryan, who grew up in Jackson, purchased the business from his grandfather in May 2015. At that time, he moved it to its current location at 800 W Broadway.

Everything was going great until that December night. A neighboring business smelled smoke and called the fire department. Ryan received a call at 10:30 p.m. and raced to the business from his home in Victor, Idaho.

“Right when I showed up they had just gotten the fire out,” said Ryan. “It was devastating to say the least. Your heart sinks. You just got done buying this cleaners business from your grandpa it all goes up in smoke, literally.”

“That night was horrifying. I didn’t sleep, didn’t know what I was going to do,” he added.

The next morning, he was given permission to walk through the business by the firefighters. The building was a mess of burnt, melted and wet clothes, and the interior ceilings fell and made a wet mess on the floor. All of the equipment was a total loss. Since the December night saw temperatures as low as negative 15 degrees, there was a thick layer of ice on the floor.

After an investigation, Teton County Fire Marshall Kathy Clay determined that the fire was caused by a Chicago Iron.

"A large piece of equipment called a Chicago Iron was heavily used during the day. The most probable cause of the fire was continued heating of combustibles in the area of the iron leading to smoldering and then ignition of combustibles," said Clay to Buckrail after the fire.

Thankfully, the computer system they used stored data in the cloud, so Ryan had a full account of the clothes that were lost in the fire.

“The first thing we did was reach out to our customers as soon as we knew what our situation was and what we could do for them,” he said.

And then he got to work. Ryan said that it took about three weeks for the fire investigators to release the building. Then the restoration company came in and gutted the place so they could began to rebuild.

The O'Ryan Cleaners sign was recently placed back on the building.

Ryan says that a blessing in disguise is that, through the rebuild they were able to upgrade to environmentally friendly and efficient equipment.

“All we use is water for the machines. There are no added soaps, conditioners, or any of that stuff,” he said. “There are no nasty chemicals that go into our machines.”

Now preparing to open this Thursday, December 1, Ryan has been lucky enough to retain about 80 percent of his employees.

“We appreciate our customers who are going to stay loyal to us and appreciate their patience,” he said.