The MHEDA Journal - Fourth Quarter, 2015 - (Page 22)

MEMBER AK MATERIAL HANDLING SYSTEMS PROFILE The Power of Positivity AK Material Handling's embrace of positivity in the work place shapes its company culture BY STEVE GUGLIELMO I 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 22 MHEDA | themhedajournal.org 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. Company Evolution 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 ourselves." 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 and process." That decision stemmed from AK's understanding that no two customers are the same or want the same exact http://www.themhedajournal.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The MHEDA Journal - Fourth Quarter, 2015

President's Perspective
From the Desk of Liz Richards
Editor's Note
Ask Your Board
MHEDA University Calandar
MHEDA MEMBER PROFILE
@WORK
MHEDA’S 2016 CRITICAL IMPACT FACTORS
COLLABORATING TO GET THE JOB DONE
Industry Pulse
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
FACING INFLATION
MATERIAL HANDLING M&A: 3 REALITIES IN TODAY’S INDUSTRY
PRICING THE FORGETTABLE LAST FIVE PERCENT
New Members
Spotlight on Association News
MHEDA Milestones
TEN MORE REASONS WHY YOU CAN’T FILL JOBS
Index to Advertisers by Product Category
The Last Word

The MHEDA Journal - Fourth Quarter, 2015

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