Manufacturing  May 3, 2018

Broomfield company ranks among nation’s fastest-growing

Sustainable Supply dedicates an entire website to eye- and face-wash equipment. Courtesy Sustainable Supply

BROOMFIELD — It takes a commitment to customer satisfaction to keep a company on the high road to success.  To Brian Fricano, that means matching and exceeding what those customers can get from competitors and adding in a few extras to sweeten the deal.

Fricano, founder and CEO of Sustainable Supply LLC, has modeled his B2B company’s customer service philosophy after business success masters like Zappos and Amazon.  Making Inc. Magazine’s top 1,000 ranking list of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies five years running proves the formula is paying off.

As an e-commerce online retailer, Sustainable Supply sells building products, restroom supplies, safety equipment, tools, hardware and maintenance as well as repair products.  “We lead with green,” Fricano said, adding that about 50,000 of the company’s more than a million products fit some level of the description.

Electric motors are among the products that Sustainable Supply makes available to industry, including the construction industry. Courtesy Sustainable Supply

“We started with all green and realized that we needed to be all things to contractors so expanded our products to be a one-stop shop.  To be relevant, we needed breadth and depth.”

To keep the original intention alive, Sustainable Supply pays a carbon offset on all shipments.

Fricano has built his company on a handful of services that he considers to be the most appealing to customers.  The top ones are the opportunity to speak to a live person when calling in and fast, free shipping.

“We have 21 employees and over half of them are customer-facing on the phone so you get a real person every time you call,” he said.  “Customers have presale questions, need technical support or help on anything from selection to installing.”

Other than about 1,500 items, Sustainable Supply’s one million products come with free shipping.  About 300,000 arrive in two days or less.

“Retail is a tough game.  Amazon and Walmart customers have been trained to expect two-day delivery, and it carries over into people’s business expectations,” Fricano said.

To roll out the deal last July, Fricano negotiated with suppliers to make the bargain workable for all.  The result has been successful so far.

With UPS and FedEx increasing their rates by 4.9 percent in 2018, Sustainable Supply’s offer comes with added appeal.  “The U.S. Postal Service is great at residential delivery but we mostly partner with FedEx and UPS,” Fricano said, since the majority of his customers are businesses.

“We’re waiting to see if Amazon ups their shipping rates,” he added.

Using Amazon as an indicator of which way the industry is going includes a lot of variables, however.  Fricano referred to the potential that the mega e-tailer could be brewing up a new strategy that will challenge how business is currently being done. 

“There’s a lot of discussion in the industry right now about Amazon’s potential to add a full-blown stand-alone shipping program,” he said.  “They bought planes and a fleet of vehicles to test it, and we believe this may move into a separate business rather than just as a supplemental service for their customers.”

To keep Sustainable Supply in the success game while potentials like that unfold,  Fricano continues to develop services that set him apart.  One of those is offering more custom products with technical assistance. 

Another success driver is increasing the appeal of the company’s online presence. 

“The online sales industry has grown 15 to 16 percent over the past five or six years, and the big buzz is B2B online.  B2C is 20 years old but B2B is still in diapers and it has two to three times the market potential.”

Purchasing agents who are new to the job are accustomed to finding better deals online rather than sticking with the old way of doing business in terms of sticking with a handful of sales reps , according to Fricano.

“We’ve spent a ton of time developing our website and online advertising and online articles as well as investing in software.  A lot of janitorial sites look like they were built in 1999 but when those customers come to us they get fast check-out and a lot of options.”

By creating two additional websites that tailor service to specific needs, Sustainable Supply has also increased both its revenue streams and customer appeal.

Eyewash Direct focuses strictly on eyewash stations, safety showers and eyewash repair types of products.  PortableHandwashing.com offers portable hand sinks, hand wash stations mobile sinks and more.

“For others, these tend to just be categories but for us it’s all the website is about,” Fancano said.

He also plans to launch Horizon Hardware, a B2B2C online company that will target property management companies later this year.

Sustainable Supply dedicates an entire website to eye- and face-wash equipment. Courtesy Sustainable Supply

BROOMFIELD — It takes a commitment to customer satisfaction to keep a company on the high road to success.  To Brian Fricano, that means matching and exceeding what those customers can get from competitors and adding in a few extras to sweeten the deal.

Fricano, founder and CEO of Sustainable Supply LLC, has modeled his B2B company’s customer service philosophy after business success masters like Zappos and Amazon.  Making…

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