125 Years of Uniform and Linen Solutions
For well over a century, AmeriPride Services has been proudly providing a wide range of high-quality, professional uniform and linen solutions to businesses in a variety of sectors, from medical to industrial, hospitality to food service, automotive to safety, and much more.
With decades of unparalleled industry experience, the company continues to build on its many years of success so clients can focus their efforts on the needs of their businesses.
The key to AmeriPride’s sustainability over 125 years has been the ability to adapt and change over time. Formed in 1889 – the same year the Eiffel Tower opened in Paris and Thomas Edison screened his first motion picture – the company has always been an innovation leader in the industry. The team recognized there was a big opportunity to differentiate themselves through customer service, and that has become the backbone of their recent growth efforts. The company’s goal is to provide better customer service through technology.
The theme for the company’s milestone 125th anniversary this year was Legacy of Service. This is a nod to their service to customers, and also to the communities where they operate. To celebrate, AmeriPride issued an updated Corporate History Book, released a new anniversary logo that was added to a variety of digital and printed materials, held a Gala celebration with senior leadership and family ownership, hosted local branch events, held a company-wide ‘Day of Service’ and developed customer appreciation communications and gifts.
As a proud, family-owned business, AmeriPride Services remains under the ownership and management of the Steiner family, with five family members serving on the company’s Board of Directors and two others actively involved in the day-to-day business operations. Unlike many other businesses, AmeriPride believes family ownership sets it apart from its large, corporate competitors. The company doesn’t answer to Wall Street, so it is able to make decisions based on customer needs and the long-term health of the company. And the company continues to be driven by its stated core values of integrity, trust, respect and responsibility.
Those core values stem from the values of the family and the employees that have built the business for all these years. And in 2011, AmeriPride was acknowledged for its efforts when it was awarded the Twin Cities Business Minnesota Family Business Award as the top company in the ‘Legacy’ category.
An Industry Leader
AmeriPride has always been a pioneer in the industry. Years ago, the company created the continuous roll towel, which became a standard in the industry. The company has also the first U.S. laundry company to use radio frequency identification (RFID) chips, which are linked to networks and used to track and sort products throughout the production and delivery process.
“Each new technology we adopt means better quality and service for our customers,” says Bill Evans, president and CEO of AmeriPride. “Recently adopted innovations include new telematics technology installed in AmeriPride’s trucks, which enables the company to not only reduce fuel consumption and improve safety, but also provide real-time feedback for drivers. Additionally, electronic handheld devices allow the company’s CSRs (drivers) to manage customer accounts in real time while on their routes, significantly decreasing errors and improving efficiency.”
The company has been using bar coding on garments for years and is now pilot testing bar coding on packers, which Evans says will enable them to better track and report complete loads.
“We plan to extend this to other products for reliability enhancement,” says Evans. “Complete, on-time delivery is essential in strengthening customer loyalty, and our ability to measure our performance in this critical area will be instrumental in our efforts to achieve our retention and growth goals,” Evans explains.
In the pilot project, AmeriPride is scanning bundles and tracking information on large flat screens positioned throughout the plant. Incorporating this bar code technology will also provide the company with future capabilities, such as scanning to specific route carts and ultimately to the customer’s shelf, if necessary.
Joining the company 2008 as Chief Operating Officer, Evans made history when, a year later, he was appointed as the first non-family Chief Executive Officer in the company’s history. Earning his BA from the University of New Hampshire and his MBA from Drake University, he brought considerable experience to the business, previously working for such well-known industry giants as PepsiAmericas, PepsiCo, and the Ford Motor Company. Today, Evans expertly guides the well-respected business toward even greater growth and profitability.
To help expand the company, the organization’s leadership, board of directors, and family owners are all aligned with the strategy. Sales is organized as one entity at AmeriPride, and the ‘feet on the street’ sales force was increased last year by an impressive 30 percent. Clearly identifying key target markets based on size, industry and geography, the sales team is ramping up quickly and contributing to rapid revenue growth. The company also implemented a more aggressive acquisition strategy and it is rolling out new adjacent services, such as cleaning chemicals, to complement the business. Actively taking steps to improve sales and lead generation, the company is also making investments in digital innovation and direct sales. “We’re investing a lot of resources into digital innovation,” states Evans, “and we are also focusing a lot of attention on the Oil and Gas industry. We are experiencing accelerated growth due to our involvement in that business, particularly in FR apparel.”
Working with customers to develop programs tailored to their specific business needs, AmeriPride leaves nothing to chance, assuring on-time deliveries, professional and respectful service, and responsiveness to the needs of clients across all sectors. The company has a hard-earned reputation for its in-depth knowledge of the industry, fast and dependable local service, and flexibility. Realizing customer needs change, AmeriPride has programs to respond to these needs, which helps set the company apart from the competition.
The company also acknowledges that its strategic partners play a big role in its success and future growth. So much so that the company recognized several key vendor partners at its recent 125th Anniversary Gala.
“We are engaging in a true partnership with our vendors,” says Evans. “Our success is theirs, and theirs is ours. It’s much better to be open and transparent with our vendors and keep them informed of our strategic direction so they can help us achieve our goals.”
Headquartered in a state-of-the-art facility in Minnesota – just across town from one of its biggest production facilities – AmeriPride is recognized across North America as one of the largest and most respected uniform rental and linen supply companies. Providing much more than linens and uniforms, however, the company also delivers floor mats, restroom supplies, and a wide variety of cleaning products to approximately 150,000 customers per week.
Recently adding a new branch in Canton, N.C., and a new service center in Sioux Falls, S.D., the company now has 45 branches and 75 service centers across the U.S. and Canada, for a total of 115 operational locations. With 5700 staff members across all locations, AmeriPride also has National AR Centers in the U.S. and Canada, as well as three Customer Support Offices and three Distribution Centers.
To make purchasing easier and more convenient for its customers, the company recently re-launched its Web stores with improved speed, search functionality, filters and garment customization options. In addition, its Custom eStores program builds customized web stores for qualified customers, and a new Customer Portal also allows customers to conveniently view and pay bills online, access program details, and better communicate with AmeriPride.
“These digital innovations are key differentiators for us,” Evans says. “They allow us to provide better service to our customers by giving them what they want and making their lives simpler.”
One of the company’s most recent, exciting new developments is the new account management suite of tools it is developing for its customer service management team. With this technology, account managers will have all the information they need to manage their relationships on a tablet, not only increasing their level of visibility into each customer’s business, but also helping to train customers to transition to online services and “self-help” where appropriate.
With a focus on building strong customer relationships, the company has also centralized many of its administration functions as part of its strategic plan. As a result, local branches can focus on the customer, first and foremost.
“We reorganized our service department and refocused on our brand promise to be there for our customers, partner with them and help them find success and prosperity. We strive to be ‘People You Can Count On’ and we are investing in customer research in an effort to know our customers better.”
The company has also refreshed and improved its service team’s on-boarding and online training programs, placing an even larger emphasis on product availability and quality. To further its commitment to client satisfaction, the company also has its C3 (Complete Customer Care) Program, a proactive visitation program in which AmeriPride regularly meets with its customers and receives feedback on performance.
By enhancing its operational efficiencies, customer service and quality, the company continues to be a driving force in the industry. AmeriPride endeavors to do its utmost to satisfy customers, maintain productive employees, invest in technologies and facility operations, and respect the environment and local communities alike.
As a responsible employer, AmeriPride remains committed to the provision of a safe work environment for all its employees. The company trains new hires on an ongoing basis and has a comprehensive safety training program and required monthly training for all its employees. The company was recently recognized by the industry for its safety efforts.
The company is also an industry leader in environmental sustainability. The industry itself is inherently ‘green’ by nature, as the company’s business model essentially helps other companies avoid contributing to landfills and pollution. Recycling linens and towels and processing laundry much more efficiently than if it was done at home, AmeriPride is committed to clean operations and sustainability, and employs environmentally friendly laundering practices and production efficiencies.
Some of the company’s ‘green’ practices include: using NPE-free detergents, water reuse and heat reclamation systems, alternative fuel vehicles, installation of fuel-saving telematics technology in all company vehicles and solar panels. In addition, the company strictly adheres to government regulation and participates in voluntary self-regulation activities, such as the industry’s Environmental Stewardship Program (ESP). Recently receiving an award from the industry association (TRSA) for its environmental efforts, AmeriPride is also the largest organization of its kind to earn the industry’s ‘Clean Green’ Certification, signifying that its production facilities meet the highest standards in water and energy conservation.
Helping businesses to maintain a clean and professional image while keeping employees safe, AmeriPride provides professional, one-stop solutions for linens and uniforms, facility care products, and direct sale programs. “Since 1889, our success has been built on products and services that exceed industry standards and customer expectations,” says Evans. “Innovation, commitment to the customer, and personalized service has sustained the company for 125 years, positioning us as a service leader in North America. We really are the People You Can Count On.”