ERB Industries’ CEO, Sheila Eads, reports that there has simply never been a better time to be in the personal protective business. As major disasters from wild fires to food contamination to hurricanes swept the globe in the last decade, safety became a top concern. In the USA and other major markets, ever increasing regulations also drive this sector.
Eads points out that direct sellers and industrial laundries with direct sell divisions are enjoying growth in personal protective equipment such as high visibility apparel, eyewear, gloves and others. Promotional products dealers are also embracing this high growth category with excellent results. In fact, Eads and other Preferred Suppliers, including garment manufacturers, point to the ASI/PPAI arena as their fastest growing market.
“Whether your focus is industrial, construction, automotive, oil and gas or food processing, safety products are a natural add on,” maintains Eads. ERB offers deep stock positions on a broad array of basic products that represent the fastest moving products.
ERB/Fame has experienced exceptional growth since their founding and Eads attributes that growth to never straying from simple, basic principles which guide the firm.
Fame has expanded to offer chef apparel, headwear, smocks and lab coats and vests and ties. As a convenience for their distributors, both companies offer in-house decorating of everything from eyewear to hi vis to smocks to aprons.
ERB and Fame have recently focused on women in the workforce with garments and safety items tailored for better fit. “Girl Power at Work,” a line of hardhats, eyewear, safety vests, etc. offered in pink and other women’s colors and styles, has taken off! Although pink is not an approved ANSI color; Eads, who sits on ANSI standards boards, reports that ANSI has a “pink subcommittee.” She observes that approved colors, orange and lime, have situations where they don’t stand out. For example, orange hi vis may not be the best color to use where a lot of orange cones are in use, but pink stands out in most work environments.
In 2001, the founders, with assistance from Eads, then CFO, restructured the company into an ESOP. Eads has headed the firm since late 2002. ERB continues to manufacture hardhats in their Georgia facility; however, to remain competitive, production of garments moved to Asia and Central America. The company maintains strict quality control on both the ERB and Fame inventory, checking incoming shipments prior to placing it in stock.
To consistently fulfill ERB’s goal of offering distributors a single source solution, top quality and a strong in-stock position are keys to their success. ERB plans to expand their glove line to meet demand of both the industrial and food service segments of their business. They also added a limited selection of small First Aid kits aimed at the construction industry where kits are required on trucks.
ERB’s value package to Members is “Sourcing made Simple” with one stop for a broad array of products and in-house decoration which saves time and money for busy distributors. Eads and her team feel that being flexible and responsive to distributors needs are key to growth and success. For current catalogs, visit
www.e-erb.com and www.famefabrics.com or call Jackie Barker at (800) 800-6522