The MHEDA Journal - Fourth Quarter, 2015 - (Page 22)
AK MATERIAL HANDLING SYSTEMS
The Power of Positivity
AK Material Handling's embrace of positivity in
the work place shapes its company culture
BY STEVE GUGLIELMO
t's no coincidence that Minnesota Business Magazine
named AK Material Handling Systems (Maple Grove, MN)
its "Ultimate Fun Office" in its 2014 100 Best Companies
to Work for Awards. It's actually by design.
"We've built a culture here that is
very addictive," says Josh Smith, AK
Director of Sales and Operations. "That's
what has made us so successful."
The word culture has become one
of businesses' biggest buzz words.
Merriam-Webster actually named "culture" the 2014 Word of the Year. More
and more, companies are figuring out
that the old adage "a happy worker is
a productive worker" is true. And for
AK, ensuring that the work place is a
happy and positive place is intrinsically
tied to its success.
"People are your greatest assets,"
says AK CEO Al Boston. "And success brings in good people. We've had
employees tell us that we do things
that other companies don't do. And
that's what we strive to do. And it's
why we don't have turnover and everybody seems happy. Your reputation is
something that builds every day. You
can't just decide one day, 'Now we're
going to start doing the right things so
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we can bring people in.' It has to be
something you do all the time."
And AK's reputation is something
that is constantly being cultivated, even
as the company has had to reinvent
itself over time.
People have always been the backbone of AK's success, dating all the
way back to the company's founding
in 1988, when it was called A & K
Equipment Co. While that has remained
constant, the business has had to adapt
to changing trends and realities.
"Our first major growth happened
in the early 90s when we made headway into accounts like Target, Kmart
and Wards," says Boston. "We supplied these accounts and others with
backroom pallet rack and shelving.
However, by 2005, Kmart had gone
through bankruptcy, Wards was out
of business and Target had begun buying direct through manufacturers by
reverse auction bid. We had to reinvent
That reinvention was a severalpronged process. First, the company
evaluated its strengths and decided
to focus solely on pallet racking and
not spend time on other allied lines.
Second, they ramped up production in its wholesale division, WPRP
Wholesale Pallet Rack Products, which
is celebrating its 15th anniversary in
2015. And in 2006, AK took the time
to build its own websites for several
segments of the business.
"We invested our time and training
to do the websites ourselves so that we
could understand the process from start
to finish," says Boston. "It took time,
but it built us to where we are today."
That decision to undertake the website building process themselves set the
groundwork for AK to consistently be
on the leading edge of embracing new
technology, especially on the Internet.
"During the Great Recession, when
most companies were cutting back on
training and education, we embraced
social media and training," Boston
says. "We were investing in people
That decision stemmed from AK's
understanding that no two customers
are the same or want the same exact
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The MHEDA Journal - Fourth Quarter, 2015
From the Desk of Liz Richards
Ask Your Board
MHEDA University Calandar
MHEDA MEMBER PROFILE
MHEDA’S 2016 CRITICAL IMPACT FACTORS
COLLABORATING TO GET THE JOB DONE
HOW TO GET YOUR ONLINE MARKETING EFFORTS BACK ON TRACK
BACK TO BASICS
PRIVACY AND SECURITY
A TREASURE CHEST OF EMPLOYEE TRAINING
GETTING THE MOST OUT OF AN INTERNSHIP PROGRAM
MATERIAL HANDLING M&A: 3 REALITIES IN TODAY’S INDUSTRY
PRICING THE FORGETTABLE LAST FIVE PERCENT
Spotlight on Association News
TEN MORE REASONS WHY YOU CAN’T FILL JOBS
Index to Advertisers by Product Category
The Last Word
The MHEDA Journal - Fourth Quarter, 2015