The longest running business in Atlanta puts safety in the lead at its distribution centers responsible for delivering thousands of products daily to a network of over 7,000 resellers.
Founded in 1848, S.P. Richards (SPR) has established itself as one of North America’s largest independent wholesale distributors of business products, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). As a critical link in the supply chain, the demand on its network of distribution centers has never been greater, requiring constant evolution and significant investment to grow its legacy—especially when it comes to the safety and productivity of the people at the heart of this business-critical operation.
PEOPLE FIRST MENTALITY
Zach Hampton manages SPR’s St. Paul, MN distribution center, leading a crew of approximately 30 folks through day-to-day operations of all warehouse activities—including inbound receiving and outbound deliveries.
It doesn’t take long for visitors to recognize where his priorities lie.
Zach Hampton leads and manages of crew of 30 employees at S.P. Richards, a distribution center located in St. Paul, MN.
“The reason I wake up every morning is my employees, making sure they get home safely, and providing the best possible product for our customers” says Hampton.
And while Hampton acknowledges SPR’s long-standing reputation, he has no delusions about what matters most to his customers.
“Honestly, it’s your results,” Hampton says. “They speak for themselves and our customers, as much as they love us and our history… we’re in a results-driven world and it’s ‘what have you done for me today?’.”
The St. Paul distribution center ships between two to three thousand cartons a night—everything from office supplies, janitorial & sanitation products, breakroom items, and everything in between.
“So, we don’t want to put them in a place where they have to do unsafe things to achieve quota.”
WORKER SAFETY “SHOWS WE CARE”
“It all starts with training, honestly, and teaching people the right way to do things and not to take shortcuts,” explains Hampton. “Knowing that we have [the crew’s] best interest and safety at heart… it goes a long way.”
Ergodyne partners with S.P. Richards to help protect the people at the heart of their business-critical operation.
“It shows in their morale.”
Sprains and strains brought on by repetitive motion and improper lifting technique are some of the biggest hazards addressed daily in the St. Paul distribution. Along with emphasizing proper lifting technique, “back supports are available for anybody who wants to use one,” says Hampton.
“But,” Hampton continues, “the main thing that keeps me up at night are these forklifts driving around, up and down our dock. So, what you see everybody wearing is hi-vis vests…they’re everywhere and paramount to keeping everybody safe and keeping them visible.”
SELLING WORKER SAFETY TO THEIR CUSTOMERS
What SPR has put into practice at locations like its St. Paul distribution center has carried over into customer-facing safe working campaigns in conjunction with partners like work safety leader, Ergodyne—the brand behind the popular Tenacious Work Gear® line.
SPR Vice President of Marketing Adam Fox sees the safety initiatives going on in facilities like the St. Paul distribution center as a model to help their customers “sell” worker safety. But that goes beyond the Tenacious Work Gear worn by employees and offered to its resellers.
S.P. Richards’ Safe Working Campaign Toolkit promotes products and resources for a safer working environment.
SPR’s Safety Month initiative runs in concert with National Safety Council’s (NSC) National Safety Month campaign, helping to put a spotlight on protecting workers through awareness, safer practices, and proper PPE use. “Safety tool kits” put together by Fox’s team feature essential PPE, educational resources and critical marketing assets.
With Safety Month, SPR isn’t simply pushing products, they’re tapping into their own unique safety culture and Ergodyne’s status as a respected thought leader to provide a readymade campaign with the goal of bolstering customer success.
“When SPR can help our customers sell more products as well as keep folks safe at work, we all win,” explains Fox.
With the global supply chain under pressure like never before, figuring out how to do more—safer and without cutting corners—is a team sport.
“Our mission is to support safety and productivity on as many worksites as we can,” says Mark Boland, National Accounts Director, Ergodyne. “And a big part of that is helping those partners endeavoring to do the same. That goes beyond the bullet points of a safety vest or pair of gloves.”
As one of North America’s largest (and oldest) independent wholesale distributors of business and office supply products, S.P. Richards partners with Ergodyne to help protect the people at the heart of this business-critical operation.
The reason I wake up every morning and what drives me is my employees and making sure they get home safely and providing the best possible product for our customers.
My name is Zach Hampton. I’m here in Saint Paul, I’m the Distribution Center Manager here. I lead the day-to-day operations for all warehouse activities, inbound receiving, and outbound deliveries, and I lead a crew of about 30 different employees.
It’s a good feeling knowing that you have a company behind you who does have such a strong reputation. But honestly, it’s your results. They speak for themselves and our customers as much as they love us and our history. We’re in a results-driven world and it’s “what have you done for me today?”
So we don’t want to put them in a place to where they have to do unsafe things to achieve quota. It all starts with training, honestly, and it has teaching people the right way to do things and not to take shortcuts. So the most common issues we see here or hazards, it has to be the forklifts. Avoiding people getting hit by those. Repetitive motion, lifting heavy boxes. Just proper lifting technique. That’s one of the biggest ways we combat those.
But what you see everybody in our warehouse wearing all the time, any time they walk outside of that office door or breakroom doors is the hi-vis vest. They’re everywhere and they’re paramount to keeping our people safe and keeping them visible. And I think that just them knowing that we have their best interests and safety at heart, it goes a long way.
In the example of the Safety Month campaign, that includes providing assets and capabilities to help SPR tell the kind of engaging, impactful story that has differentiated Ergodyne in the safety space.
“Collaborating with our supplier partners is key to our success as a wholesaler,” says Fox. “Ensuring our customers can provide best in class products and support in their community enables everyone to win.”
“Safety isn’t just a word… it’s paramount to success in every imaginable sense, and there’s no bigger success than ensuring everybody returns home in the same condition they arrived.”