US Safety Gear growing operation

WARREN — US Safety Gear is expanding its brand while it helps other businesses expand theirs.

Not exactly tucked away on Enterprise Drive SW because the building that houses the supplier of safety gear for the construction and other industries is 110,000-square-feet, the company has grown tremendously and has expanded its reach into embroidery, printing and silk screening.

Over time, it added embroidery and printing and then in 2017, a silk screening division came online. It was an investment of $500,000 to $750,000, said company CEO Tarry Alberini.

It’s also the portion of the company that’s seeing the fastest growth, said Tamara Timmons, vice president of sales and marketing.

“We’ve been able to marry that process with our existing industrial accounts,” said Alberini. “That facet, marketing the apparel with the existing accounts, that has really, really worked out well. We are at the point now where we are developing corporate apparel sites for key accounts in the area.”

US Safety Gear is doing work for the Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Cavaliers and has items in the Summit Racing catalog, Alberini said.

But that division of US Safety Gear isn’t reflected in the company’s name, “so now we have a full-fledged marketing team. It is really about pushing that message out and really letting people know we do promotional products,” Timmons said.

The company moved its fulfillment center to the Enterprise Drive SW, Warren, location in 2007 from its original location on West Market Street in Leavittsburg, where the legacy retail store that opened in the late 1980s remains, Alberini said. The Enterprise Drive SW building used to house a company that made wiring harnesses for the automotive industry.

“This is kind of the hub and spoke here,” Alberini said from inside the sprawling building filled with rows and rows of safety gear and equipment. “This feeds all of the outlying locations, plus our industrial accounts.”

Said Timmons, “Five years ago, we only had half of this building, were using half of the building, but now we have the whole building because we need all of the space for growth.”

The building came along at a time when Alberini had bought 40 acres of land in Braceville just east of the Ohio Turnpike interchange with state Route 5. And the “price was right,” so Alberini shelved plans to build new, but would still like to see the land in Braceville developed.

“We’re going to hold onto it. The biggest thing for us out there is we have to have water and sewage. That has always been an issue out there, so we’ll kind of wait and see what happens in Newton Falls,” said Alberini, a councilman in the village.

US Safety Gear has six occupational safety product retail stores and four in-plant stores in places like Kraftmaid and Whirlpool that are fully functioning retail stores staffed with US Safety Gear employees, Alberini said.

Sales surpassed $23 million in 2018. That represents about a 12 percent increase from 2017, Alberini said.

“The economy has picked up, people are back working … The country is in full employment so all of our key accounts are hiring, but on top of that, we’ve been able to marry the safety side of our business to the promotional side of our business,” Alberini said. “It’s really just exploded, so our growth has not just been with corporate contracts, but also a lot of word of mouth.”

“We’re so diversified, if one portion of the business is slow, we’re able to shift gears and jump over to something else,” Alberini said.

In addition to retail and business to business, the company has outside and internet sales. Person to person remains the strongest.

“It’s that relationship that drives the sales … I would say a majority of the business has come from long-term relationships we have had over the years and it just expands and expands,” Alberini said.

The company employs more than 100 workers with about 75 in the fulfillment center.