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Uniforms supplier reaps benefits of Polycom Telepresence
Feb '10
UniFirst, a leading supplier of uniforms, work apparel, and related business products to companies throughout North America, strives to maintain a tightly knit, family-like culture with its 10,000 Team Partner employees. But, like so many large companies, UniFirst has been challenged by the high expense and costly downtime related to corporate training programs and associated travel. That's why UniFirst turned to Polycom, Inc. telepresence solutions to enable productive, face-to-face meetings and training sessions without the high costs associated with travel.

After only a few months of use, UniFirst is already on-track to meet its primary goal of significantly reducing travel expenses and achieving a 100 percent ROI in the first year of implementing its new video network. "Not only is video conferencing enabling us to significantly reduce travel costs, but it's also giving us the opportunity to offer more personalized training to more people, more often," said Kelley O'Leary, UniFirst manager of Performance and Training Support.

UniFirst serves more than 225,000 customer locations throughout North America via its 202 facilities. Effective employee training has historically required costly, travel-heavy programs to maintain work consistency coast-to-coast. But, a top-down productivity initiative from UniFirst CEO Ronald D. Croatti resulted in the deployment of an extensive high-definition Polycom video collaboration network to connect all UniFirst operations. Initially designed to reduce travel costs, which the company is already realizing, UniFirst is now also making significant productivity gains in many other aspects of its operations.

"We began as a family company, where everyone was on a first-name basis. And, in fact, that's one of the things that differentiates us in this industry," explained O'Leary. "Today, we're a billion-dollar company with employees spread throughout North America. Our new video conferencing network is now helping us maintain and nurture that small-company culture by bringing people closer together in real time."

Among the key reasons UniFirst partnered with Polycom was the extensive training application expertise offered by the company's Industry Solutions Team. The deployment of a training-focused video conferencing network meant that UniFirst's in-person training materials and techniques had to be fine-tuned for video delivery. With Polycom's support, UniFirst was able to move forward with confidence, knowing that personalized, onsite instruction to help facilitate the transition was always at hand.

"Polycom sent training experts to our corporate headquarters to provide in-person guidance and support. It was truly invaluable. We simply chose the materials and information we felt were most appropriate for our deployment and integrated them into the training process," said Jodi Howshan, UniFirst training specialist. "Polycom really partnered with us. They were interested in our program's success, not just in closing the deal. They really went out of their way to get the job done."

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