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Paramont EO’s Team-Building Redesign

This article is part of MDM's 2016 Distribution Trends Special Issue.

Chicago, IL-based electrical and decorative lighting distributor Paramont EO recently reconfigured its warehouse to accommodate more products more efficiently. The company was selected as an MDM Market Mover for how it turned an operational efficiency exercise into a company-wide team-building strategy.

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In 2016, MDM is recognizing distributors that are innovative in their approach to their markets. Chicago, IL-based electrical and decorative lighting distributor Paramont EO recently reconfigured its warehouse to accommodate more products more efficiently. The company was selected as an MDM Market Mover for how it turned an operational efficiency exercise into a company-wide team-building strategy.


2016 MDM Market Mover


Distributor: Paramont EO & Crest Lighting
Headquarters: Chicago, IL
Leadership: CEO Ken Gallagher; CFO Patricia Cunningham; CTO Erica Gallagher
Details:How an electrical supplies and decorative lighting distributor’s warehouse remodel became a company-wide training and team-building effort.


In 2016, MDM is recognizing distributors that are innovative in their approach to their markets. Chicago, IL-based electrical and decorative lighting distributor Paramont EO recently reconfigured its warehouse to accommodate more products more efficiently. The company was selected as an MDM Market Mover for how it turned an operational efficiency exercise into a company-wide team-building strategy.

When a warehouse runs out of space, the choices are to look for more space or figure out how to work with what you already have. The former was not really an option for Paramont EO, Chicago, IL, which had only moved into its 80,000-square-foot facility in 2013. So the decision was made to reassess the company’s existing and future needs and to reconfigure the warehouse layout.

But what started as a simple project to make an existing situation more workable took on a life of its own and resulted in a more cohesive team throughout the company.

“When we decided to build this new warehouse from scratch, I wanted to make sure my warehouse managers were there. It was more or less a community effort, kind of like paintball, but actually was something tangible at the end of the rainbow,” says Kevin Reed, director of purchasing. “Everybody had their input. There was not one guy being a dictator and saying, ‘This is what we’re going to do and don’t tell me why we shouldn’t be doing it.’ It was, ‘What do you see every day?’”

Paramont EO brought in team members from across the company – including inside sales and office staff – to create the new warehouse, which also helped improve how employees viewed other roles.

“When somebody’s in an office, he doesn’t actually see someone that’s busting his butt in the warehouse,” Reed says. “It was a good chance for the warehouse guys to sit down with the inside sales team or the outside sales team and actually find some common ground. It broke down the barriers that you just sit in every day.”

The unintended success of how reconfiguring the warehouse became a team-building event changed management’s thoughts about training throughout the company, Reed says.

When the company moved its return area from branches into the centralized warehouse, salespeople were brought in to help set up the shelving and to spend a day experiencing the process. “They see all the steps involved. It’s not just as easy as telling somebody over the phone, ‘Yeah, I’ll take that back,” he says.

“It gives an appreciation of the people that often go unnoticed.”

And it creates a sense of friendly competition, one that leads employees to wanting to learn more. “They want to be better than the guy next to them. It’s a little bit of college camaraderie, a little bit of one-up-manship. This guy knows how to cut this wire, so now I want to know how to do it too,” Reed says.

This philosophy has been extended across several functions in the company, which in addition to creating better understanding of the other roles, also helps identify growth opportunities for employees within the company. “Everybody’s looking to move up the ladder. This kind of helps push that along,” he says.

For example, a warehouse employee was given the opportunity to learn a computer for the software in one building and “was able to springboard that into a career in purchasing,” Reed says. “It helps us spot talent that we might not have otherwise known existed.”

As the company moves forward, sales growth and technology changes will eventually lead to Paramont EO outgrowing its space once again. “Products are changing,” says Erica Gallagher, CTO. “So we’re going to have to think differently about what we have on our warehouse shelves and how we store them.”

But the team is already planning for that next stage, as well.
 

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