Portland Mercado

We wanted products that met our green values, Jet Towel Mini Series Products were a perfect fit.
Portland Mercado opened its doors in April 2015, becoming the first Latino public market in Portland, Oregon. The goal: serve as a place for entrepreneurs to open food carts and stores. Within months of opening, the market had attracted 19 such entrepreneurs – offering them economic opportunity while they in turn offer the Portland community a variety of healthy food options. The facility’s commercial kitchen – available to entrepreneurs who make food to sell elsewhere – also succeeded quickly, and is now fully booked week after week. With over 600 people visiting the market each day to sample delicious foods, the facility gets a lot of foot traffic. That includes the restrooms, which must always be clean and fully functional so no visitor goes in to wash sticky hands only to discover an ineffective hand dryer, empty paper towel dispenser or wet floor. That’s a problem Portland Mercado will never have, though, because they installed Jet Towel Mini High-speed Hand Dryers from Mitsubishi Electric US, Inc. Cooling & Heating Division (Mitsubishi Electric).

“Portland Mercado is modeled after a market in Minneapolis, and it took us four years to get it up and going,” said Catherine Kes, housing developer at Portland-based Hacienda Community Development Corporation (HCDC). “We’re a Latino-serving organization, focusing mainly on affordable housing. We’d noticed that Portland’s raising rents were making it harder for entrepreneurs to start businesses.” The market seemed like a great answer to that problem.

HCDC searched the city for an ideal site. Kes explained, “We found an abandoned building – previously a car dealership and originally a bank. It was a good site but it needed a rehab, so we performed an adaptive reuse of the building, including building new bathrooms into the existing structure.”

She continued, “For the bathrooms as well as the commercial kitchen, we wanted hand dryers.” Jamie Melton, HCDC’s community economic development marketing coordinator, explained that the team saw hand dryers as “fitting in line with our green values. Any time we have an opportunity to use a product that conserves resources, we take it.”

When selecting the dryers, Kes did what is now so natural to do when taking on any big project – consult Google. “I searched for hand dryers and the Jet Towel came up. I was familiar with Mitsubishi [Electric] because we have their mini-split heat pumps in one of our other properties – Vista de Rosas, a 25-unit [multifamily] complex that was rehabbed. The mini-splits have been great in there. We’ve been amazed at how much lower our bills are.”

Beyond trusting Mitsubishi Electric as a company, Kes also saw that the Jet Towel line hit on their main requirements: small size, low cost, low maintenance and sustainability. Regarding sustainability, Kes said, “As part of being green, it’s important to us to have lower energy usage where possible. On the [Mitsubishi Electric] website we saw a price and energy usage comparison that showed how the dryers save on energy because they’re so efficient.”

Efficiency also factored into HCDC’s decision in terms of customer satisfaction; as Melton said, “The Mitsubishi [Electric] dryer is efficient for the customer.” With a Jet Towel product, HCDC knew that visitors to the market would be able to quickly and effectively dry their hands.

Perhaps the most crucial deciding factor, though, was size. Mitsubishi Electric offers a smaller hand dryer, “and we didn’t see a lot of mini-sized dryers out there. But size was so important to us,” said Kes. To meet ADA regulations, the selected dryer would need to be located next to the sink in each restroom. In the commercial kitchen, the dryer would need to fit above the sink. In all cases, there just wasn’t much space “so Jet Towel’s Mini [High-speed Hand Dryers] option was really the ideal size.”

HCDC told their general contractor to get Jet Towel Mini High-speed Hand Dryers, and the ordering and installation proceeded “without any problems,” said Kes. Operation since has been positive, as well. “Manuel, our market manager, says they’re working great. The dryers haven’t needed any maintenance and he has no issue with water. This is something we really like about the Mitsubishi [Electric] dryers – that they catch water to keep it from dripping onto the floor. This is a matter of cleanliness, and also slips. Otherwise a staff person would have to constantly be cleaning.”

The dryers’ eco- and budget-friendliness has also been a source of satisfaction for HCDC. “Money was a big factor, and I think our paper towel usage would have been really high. We’re visited by over 600 people a day on average, and 35 people work here. This is seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. – even later on the weekends! I imagine that the dryers are going to pay for themselves pretty quickly,” said Kes.

Hand dryers are a small piece in all that Portland Mercado is and does. Still, to have dryers that are green, affordable and low maintenance creates a great setting for all of the entrepreneurial activity and fantastic food that the market has brought to the city.
  • Background to Installation
    Remodel
  • Previous Drying System
    N/A
  • Installation Sites
    Restrooms throughout the facility and commercial kitchen
  • Number Installed
    3
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