For more than 100 years, Stauffer Glove & Safety has developed innovative safety solutions and grown to meet the needs of a rapidly changing manufacturing marketplace. Founded in 1907 as a manufacturer of cotton work gloves, the Red Hill, Penn.-based company is today one of the United States’ largest importer and distributor of personal protective equipment (PPE) to American industry.
The company prides itself on retaining its position as a family owned PPE specialist at a time when distribution is seeing regular consolidation, as well as heavy competition from large national industrial distributors. “PPE requires detailed and specific knowledge with a high level of training that makes it unlike other MRO product categories,” Vice President Jeff Stauffer says.
“Our singular commitment to the highest level of safety expertise is really what separates us and gives us our greatest competitive advantage,” says Stauffer, who, along with his brother Randy – Stauffer Glove & Safety’s president – represents the fourth generation of family ownership at the company. “For our customers, the products we offer could make the difference between life and death. We don’t believe in commoditizing a product offering that is fundamental to the health and safety of our workforce.”
The company serves customers from 350,000 total square feet of warehouse space in nine locations: its corporate headquarters in Red Hill, PA, just outside of Philadelphia; Canton, Ohio; Rocky Mount, N.C.; Evansville, Ind.; Chicago; Springdale, Ark.; Fresno, Calif.; Atlanta; and Greenwood, Del.
Stauffer Glove & Safety offers a wide range of PPE and safety products from more than 500 brands – including 3M, Kimberly-Clark, Ansell, DuPont and Honeywell – to domestic manufacturing customers, including those in the metal, glass and automotive sectors.“This business is all about building and maintaining long-term relationships with both our customers and suppliers,” National Sales Manager Steve Barnes says.
All of Stauffer Glove & Safety’s distribution centers are strategically positioned near key industrial customers. This reflects the company’s focus on tailoring customized services to customers’ specific needs.
The company offers value-added services to clients, including product consignment programs as well as safety audits and demonstrations. Stauffer Glove & Safety also offers vendor-managed inventory (VMI) programs in the form of vending machines located in manufacturing facilities. “Vending machines ensure greater control over who is using our products and reduces our customers’ overall spend on PPE,” Barnes says. “We made a decision three years ago to aggressively enter that market, and vending has been the largest growth opportunity for us and a key cost savings solution for our customer base.”
Stauffer Glove & Safety’s vending program helped one of its customers, a national metal manufacturer, greatly reduce its waste and take cost out of its operations. Stauffer Glove & Safety placed controls on the customer’s vending machines that limited the amount of new gloves an employee could take out during a week. This encouraged employees to instead use gloves the manufacturer laundered and re-used on site. “Employees weren’t previously using the recycled product, and there was a lot of waste,” Barnes says. “Today, there’s been more than a 30 percent reduction in the use of the products we placed the controls on.” In addition to placing controls on products dispensed in vending machines, Stauffer Glove & Safety also helped the manufacturer standardize the products they used from “dozens of SKUs to just a few,” Barnes adds.
The company continues to adopt new technologies to improve the ways it communicates with and offers products to customers. This includes enhancing its website with intelligent and predictive search tools, invoice and purchase order history, advanced reporting and customized product lists. The company’s online ordering platform can integrate with customers’ procurement systems to simplify the ordering process. “Using systems the company has developed in-house allows us to be flexible and build customized solutions that fit our customers’ specific needs,” IT and Marketing Manager Brandon Stauffer says.
The company’s family based culture has given it the ability to be flexible to its customers’ needs. Stauffer Glove & Safety was founded in 1907 in Palm, Pa., as Acorn Glove Co., a manufacturer of cotton and leather gloves marketing to retail chain stores and wholesale distributors. The company moved to its present location in Red Hill in 1955 and incorporated as Stauffer Manufacturing Co.
In the early 1960s, the company began selling direct to industry, a sales approach that provided significant growth and resulted in the need for a full line of safety products and partnerships from other manufacturers. At this time, the company also began importing products directly from Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. By the early 1980s, manufacturing represented only about five percent of the company’s total revenue. The company at this time outsourced its manufacturing equipment and technology to an overseas partner and transitioned from a glove manufacturer to a full-line PPE distributor.
Although the Stauffer glove brand is produced overseas, the gloves still retain the same standards and quality customers have come to expect over the years. “Our gloves are made to our original specifications,” Jeff Stauffer says. The company still produces cotton and leather gloves, but has expanded its line to include a wide variety of over 100 glove styles including disposables, cut resistant, coated, chemical resistant and more.
The company’s longevity and culture continue to distinguish it within the PPE distribution market. “We’re truly a family business, from the president down to our newest employees; everyone has access to leadership,” Barnes says. “Our customers appreciate that because that sort of family touch is so rare in today’s world.”