DiVal Safety Equipment is projecting 12 percent annual growth for the next 10 years and plans 20 new hires to keep up with it. The fast-growing distributor of safety and industrial supplies has also physically expanded with the purchase of a 50,000-square-foot warehouse on Ontario Street in Buffalo. And it plans to open sales offices and more warehouses in Boston, Mass., Pittsburgh and Cleveland in the next couple of years.
Employees at the Niagara Street business are not just proud to work for a thriving company, but one that promotes an egalitarian-style workplace where its success is intertwined with their personal accomplishments. For that reason and others, DiVal Safety Equipment is the No. 1 Top Workplace among midsize companies.
“We’re excited,” said CJ Vallone, president of the company. “We are a competitive company, so anything we can win makes us feel good. But it just reinforces the fact that we have good people. And it makes me proud because that’s what you try to accomplish.”
DiVal, which began in 1977, has 211 employees. It stocks 25,000 safety-related items, from hard hats to flame retardant clothing to gas-detection equipment. Safety glasses and gloves are among its top sellers.
The company has 5,000 active customers, including contractors, municipalities and manufacturing facilities. And it also offers training, equipment maintenance and regional and national safety workshops. It has operations in Rochester, Syracuse, Philadelphia and Houston.
Survey respondents described DiVal as an upbeat, even fun, work environment with a lot of laughter, where they feel involved with the company’s progress.
“DiVal is family to me! I am so happy and proud to work for a company that cares about their employees,” an employee wrote on the survey. “It has been so neat to be a part of a lot of the changes that have been happening in the past 10-plus years I have been here. ”
Employees have made the company’s goal of becoming the No. 1 supplier of safety equipment their own, said Bill Licker, DiVal’s customer care manager.
“We are growing and there’s so much opportunities,” said Licker, a nine-year employee. “There’s a lot of optimism. It’s been just fantastic working. It’s a pleasure to come to work each day. And a tremendous majority of employees would tell you the same thing.”
DiVal snagged the top spot because of its respectful treatment of employees and its constant acknowledgement of their worth, Vallone said.
“Employees are actively engaged; they have a voice in how we run the business, everybody has a say,” he said. “Everybody respects and listens to everybody.”
When an order is being filled, the warehouse employee packing the order has just as much input as the sales representative talking to the customer, Vallone said.
The leadership sets the tone at the company, Licker said. It’s common for Vallone to hang out in the warehouse and other divisions of the company.
“You get the feeling you’re more than just a number when the owner himself can stop to talk,” he said. Additionally, the company sponsors fun events, like trips to Bisons and Sabres games, bolstering its appreciation of workers, Licker said.
Its “25 Days of Christmas,” in which employees decorate their work areas, wear costumes and are treated to 25 days of company-paid lunches from Thanksgiving Day to Christmas, is highly anticipated.
“We do our jobs and we have fun doing it,” Licker said. “Employees care about the company because it cares about them.”