I was recently interviewed on a number of topics about safety and our family business. I’m sharing the following information, which was published by DiversityPlus Magazine, because it speaks to the importance of keeping workers safe. It is my hope that you find value in what I have shared.
“My passion is all around reducing injuries in the workplace and ensuring every employee goes home safely every day,” says the Founder and CEO of Arbill, Julie Copeland.
That passion drives everything the company does from designing customer services to searching out workplace safety needs and developing innovative solutions. Arbill is a third-generation safety manufacturing company with a national footprint, an innovative product engineering group, and a heartfelt desire to improve workplace safety by developing products that are designed to provide solutions to meet general safety requirements and specific safety threats.
Answering A Legacy Call
Copeland came on board in answer to a legacy call from her father. At the time, she was involved in running her own startup business. The experience gave her a greater appreciation for the challenges her grandfather faced in starting a new business. After succumbing to the pull of the family business, Julie found that Arbill was involved in safety and other areas. Then one day she met a fine gentleman who had suffered a substantial injury with a press and lost three fingers.
“He was accustomed to throwing a baseball with his son and could no longer do that,” Copeland said. “I felt I could do good and help grow a business at the same time, so I focused on redefining the mission of Arbill to focus on only safety and on just bringing people home intact.”
Arbill is a distributor and a manufacturer. The company distributes quality brands like 3M, Honeywell and DuPont and also manufactures a line of products called Truline. The manufacturing occurs as joint ventures developed on an international basis. Determining where to form those joint ventures is a critical decision that takes into account the global unrest occurring in various countries.
Choosing a location is based on two primary factors. First, Arbill must determine where raw materials are available for sourcing. Second, Arbill considers which of the countries offers the greatest opportunities for successful partnering.
Three years ago, Arbill decided to break ground in Bangladesh. The newly built glove manufacturing factory shipped its first container of products in August. As a most favored nation with the U.S., Copeland believes Arbill can significantly contribute to helping Bangladesh prosper. When the factory is at full capacity it will employ over 3,500 people. Though Arbill does not have total control of the process because it is a joint venture, it does play a big part in the quality policy, product inspections process and R&D.
It Is What the Label Says It Is
Delving into the fascinating world of Arbill’s sourcing and manufacturing, Copeland explains that product quality begins with the kind of raw materials put into the products.
“All the materials are audited to ensure labeling is accurate. If Arbill says products are 100 percent cotton, the materials’ audit ensures there is no poly or nylon in it,” she said, adding that the same is true for leather of types of hides as there are distinct differences between cow, deer and goat hide.
“We know what a belly will produce for us and what a side will produce for us, and we know how to do the testing on the thickness. So we have a lot of procedures in place to ensure the right quality for a product specification. For example, gloves used for an hour and then contaminated can be manufactured with C-grade materials since they will be thrown away after a single use as an example – this helps to match quality to price demands” she said.
Materials and product inspections are done onsite, in factories and when the product has been on the water for several weeks. Products like clothing are tested by third-party laboratories that are used by companies like DuPont and Kimberly Clark.
Exactly What The Market Needs
Arbill does not wait for customers to express a need, though many do. Instead, the company is monitoring and evaluating where safety-related incidences are happening in the workplace. R&D uses the information on experiences and the data to develop products or services that serve as remedies.
Arbill is a member of the National Safety Council which provides access to OSHA data as well as interpretation of the data. Statistics indicate that there are over 3 million injuries in the U.S. each year so there are plenty of opportunities to remedy them. A good example is when data indicated there was a problem with safety glasses falling down due to sweat, allowing residue to get into the eyes. Arbill developed new wraparound glasses with a new nose piece and introduced the product to the marketplace to remedy both issues.
R&D also develops formulations and concepts so the company can bring new products to the market. For example, Arbill developed a new polarized eye glass lens because traditional lenses were fogging. The company has developed different materials for gloves to create new grips. It developed a new glove that blends Lycra with steel and glass to create a cut-level five (rating system) glove with great comfort. The market had not asked for the product, but Arbill knew the market would appreciate it once the benefits were understood. When the utility marketplace was experiencing a shortage of gloves that could meet voltage requirements, Arbill worked with a customer and a new manufacturer to produce a product with new features that could be manufactured from that point forward in adequate supply to meet demand.
Customers bring safety issues to Arbill when looking for solutions as well.
“We have a windows manufacturer we work with and they were having challenges with cuts in the thumb crotch area. They needed protective material that would not leave residue on the glass. Our R&D staff worked with the customer to come up with the best products to remedy cuts and residue issues. After six months and many iterations of different formulations, we developed a material that is nothing like anything else in the market,” Copeland explains. The Arbill Advantage is a four-stage system for developing a relationship with a customer that leads to safety solutions. “We first do a safety blueprint which is an assessment. We then deploy products and services that will create a safer workplace. The third stage is the documentation of the safety improvements as measured through incidence reductions and standardization. Finally we review safety improvements and determine how we can build off of it,” she said.
The safety company is so sure of its ability to help clients that it gives them an Arbill Promise that they will experience a 10 percent reduction in workplace incidences through the Arbill Advantage system.
Making A Difference In Lives In Many Ways
Giving back to the community is also important to Arbill. “I believe everyone should be protected and not just those we have as clients. Arbill helps during disasters by partnering with groups like Convoy of Hope to ensure safety products are delivered to rescue workers on-site in a timely manner. We have the Arbill Give Back Program also in which Arbill makes a donation of safety equipment to an organization in need on behalf of a new customer,” she said.
Copeland brings a distinctly feminine philosophy to Arbill. “As a mom of three I have a true compassion for ensuring every worker gets home to their families each day. I understand the impact that has on the family. When a family member does not come home the same way he or she left, that affects a son or daughter for the rest of their life. What we do is less about a transaction and more about carrying out a mission to make a difference,” she said.
She also has some advice for women who own businesses and want to develop a global presence. She recommends first developing a client in the U.S. who wants the company to go global and can serve as a resource. Second, she advises leveraging connections through WEConnect International and WBENC to gain access to women outside of the U.S who can help a business navigate through the opportunities. Third, a company must do its own homework.
The success of Arbill is attributed to Copeland’s leadership and an experienced team of people. She invests resources to train her staff and sets goals and priorities for each job profile. Staff is stretched to think bigger.
“We have the technology, expertise, innovative mindset, KPIs that drive performance and a desire to always be the best operationally that we can be at all times,” she said.
Arbill knows how to constantly optimize the supply chain and deliver innovative produces on a timely basis. This is how a passion for safety looks when put into action.
You can read the article here: http://www.diversityplus.com/Business1/Arbill_DiversityPlusMagazine.pdf
For more information about Arbill, visit www.Arbill.com or call us at 800.523.5367.
Have a safe day!
The article in the above blog was written by Valerie Gomez and published by DiversityPlus Magazine in November/December 2014.