GRAPEVINE, TX — AD’s newest division, Safety Network, celebrated record growth and new opportunities at its first partnership conference since joining AD in January of this year. The event featured governance and partnerships in action, with a divisional board meeting, member and supplier business updates, inaugural network meetings and booth appointments where members and suppliers collaborated on shared opportunities for growth. The conference was held Sept. 26-28 in conjunction with the AD Industrial & Safety-U.S. North American Meeting.
Since joining AD, Safety Network has grown to 51 members with over 5,000 employees in 269 locations. With member purchases from AD supplier partners up by 25% so far this year, Mike Carr, president of the Industrial & Safety-U.S. divisions, congratulated the division on a strong early showing.
“Our Safety Network members did a tremendous job coming out of the gate fast,” Carr said. “These members already had a great thing going. AD is helping put more horsepower behind their efforts, giving them the resources to go even further. We're excited about where we are, and more excited about where we're going together.”
Those resources include formal networks, a core AD program that brings non-competing members together to tackle challenges, share learnings and take actionable insights back to their businesses. Five divisional network groups were launched during the conference, allowing members to meet with their network peers for the first time.
Referencing this year’s event theme, True North, Carr explained how a shared purpose is brought to life through these AD networks.
“True north is about coming together to figure out what you need to do to be successful,” Carr said. “The networks provide more leverage to fix problems together. Having a formal process, structure and governance ensures every member's voice is heard and communicated throughout the organization.”
In his remarks at the member business meeting, President of goSafe and Chairman of the AD Safety Network divisional board Burk Shaw emphasized that every member has a voice through AD’s governance structure, from formal networks to boards and committees. While encouraging more people to get involved, Shaw recognized two divisional board members for exceptional service: Sam Yadav of Quest Safety Products Inc. and Gabe Encarnacion of Bennett-Bowen Lighthouse.
Shaw also highlighted the importance of supporting AD supplier partners, noting that it’s a continued practice for the Safety Network.
“That's the biggest thing, to give AD suppliers first opportunity,” said Shaw. “We're all in this together. If you don't circle the wagons during trying times, we're not going to be stronger.”
During his keynote, which was attended by members and suppliers from both Safety Network and ISD-U.S. divisions, AD CEO Bill Weisberg extended a special welcome the Safety Network community.
“Thank you for your service to our country during the pandemic, for keeping our employees, workplaces and construction sites safe,” Weisberg said. “You’re doing heroic work that we're all grateful for.”
Building on Safety Network’s previous success in driving business to supplier partners, the conference saw the launch of the AD conversion campaign. This program incentivizes members to conduct more business with AD suppliers and recognizes the winning group with an annual conversion cup award. Jennifer Hogeland, director of member services for the division, emphasized in the member business meeting that it's one of the most valuable programs at AD.
"The conversion campaign is what separates AD from the competition and the national chains," Hogeland said. "It really shows our ability to move the needle as a group, increasing leverage for AD members and success for the whole community."
The conference also spotlighted two educational programs Safety Network brought to AD: Safety Equipment Expert (SEE) certification and Safeopedia.
The 150-hour SEE certification trains member’s sales professionals in the use and regulation of safety products, incorporating a foundational solution-based philosophy. The program has 49 participating distributors, with more than 1,200 participants having completed over 40,000 class hours.
David Ruggles of Martin Industrial Supply, longtime member of the AD Industrial & Safety-U.S. division, said the value of that training drew them to join the Safety Network Division.
“We'd been searching for a group we could partner with to become the training source for our sales and customer service teams,” Ruggles said. “Industry veterans are saying this is the best training they've ever had. It's not just products. The general sales and professional skills training are excellent.”
Safeopedia is a partnership within the division that provides safety-related content to companies and end users. A customer-facing website features informational articles and podcasts, with much of the material driven by an exclusive relationship between Safeopedia and AD Safety Network members and suppliers.
Sheila Schalk, vice president of industrial sales at Protective Industrial Products Inc., offered a supplier’s perspective on the value of AD Safety Network.
“It allows us to build strong relationships with more independent distributors by leveraging all that AD offers above and beyond what other groups provide,” Schalk explained. “The educational aspect is especially valuable, given the greater reach on the AD side and how education is a foundational element of who we (PIP®) are. We are thrilled to be able to now support and reach more customers with the additional training and education options.”
Reflecting on the division’s exciting growth and potential, Carr pointed to the community’s industry-leading expertise.
“Safety people solve the most important challenges,” Carr said. “They provide the resources, training and knowledge to make sure those in the field come home at night.”