North Heights Linen Service, LLC is a 30,000-square-foot facility located in Amarillo, TX, that serves hospitals and medical facilities with mass laundry services. But, North Heights Linen Service originated much further north in Cleveland, OH.

Amarillo community member Mary Emeny was originally from Cleveland and had seen the effect a worker-owned co-op had on a depressed Rust Belt neighborhood. The model Mary saw allowed employees to work at the laundry facility, earn a true living wage, walk to work and accumulate wealth by having ownership in the business.

Puff Niegos has a long and varied history of community advocacy, service, and philanthropy in Amarillo, TX. Mary and Puff were discussing ways they could prevent economic leakage and help profits and employment stay in Amarillo. Mary brought up the success she had seen years before in Cleveland with a worker-owned laundry business.

The two women decided that the model Mary had observed in Cleveland could work out nicely in the northern side of Amarillo.

Puff Niegos
- Puff Niegos

“Their goal was to provide an opportunity for wealth for their workers because a living wage is not enough. They planned to provide wealth through ownership of the laundry. So, we modeled our laundry off that.”

It had been a very long time since the North Heights community in north Amarillo had seen new construction and new businesses bringing opportunity to a part of their community that had been overlooked, while other areas continued to grow. The North Heights community had become an area of disinvestment. Puff believed that the co-op laundry service could provide good jobs close to resident’s homes.

North Heights Linen Service ribbon cutting
North Heights Linen Service, LLC in Amarillo, TX provides commercial

Niegos partnered with area stakeholders and the city of Amarillo to fund the project and North Heights Linen Service opened in 2021, providing laundry service to multiple small, rural hospitals. They continued looking for client hospitals who could benefit from their services. John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, TX had been having staffing issues, battling aging equipment and were exploring building a new laundry facility.

North Heights Linen Service, LLC contacted the hospital and was awarded the contract to provide laundry service to the hospital increasing their volume by six times. Niegos and team, knew they needed more working capital to purchase linens, associated supplies and accreditation.

Niegos was familiar with Communities Unlimited through many projects that we have worked on together in the Amarillo area. North Heights Linen Service, LLC, contacted Communities Unlimited and worked with the Entrepreneurship team to review their business model and pricing structure to ensure they were set up for financial success.

After working through their finances with the Entrepreneurship Team at Communities Unlimited, the Lending Team was able to assist North Heights Linen Service, LLC with a working capital loan to continue to provide services to their current contracts and obtain new ones.

A conveyer belt that carries linen at North Heights Linen Service
North Heights Linen Service wants to reduce carbon footprint from hospitals shipping

In addition to its co-op model of employee ownership, North Heights Linen Service, LLC is on a mission to provide continuing education opportunities for its employees through the local college in an on-site classroom.

Puff Niegos
- Puff Niegos

“We have modules on parenting skills, conflict resolution, and financial and business finance classes. We meet and learn through case studies based on examples North Heights Linen Service could face. It’s a neat component because it keeps people engaged. It’s facilitating growth.”

Alongside their linen service, North Heights Linen Service, LLC also serves community members reentering society from a nearby prison.  They created flexible working schedules for employees who may find it challenging to find a job due to obligations meeting court-required obligations that would otherwise take place during normal working hours.

Niegos says, “This is a true community-based project. It’s not one person, it’s not one organization, the whole city has come together to make this work. I feel very blessed to be involved in it at all. It’s good for everybody.”

For more information about North Heights Linen Service, LLC, visit