Built on a solid foundation of Christian values and commitment to employees, Lakeland Supply Inc. continues to thrive with a second generation of leadership, despite the Great Recession and its impact on the manufacturing sector.
“The culture of the company is what makes us strong,” said Vince Schmidt, president of Lakeland Supply Inc. “We are family-based, and we give people the opportunity to make decisions, and that has been the key for our growth. And we will continue that focus to grow. We try to focus externally and internally on how we can help them and how we can make life easier.”
Lakeland Supply, which distributes packaging, paper and janitorial products, is the 2010 Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business of the Year.
The company continued to grow during the recession, investing in additional sales and marketing, positioning it for the economic recovery
“The (economy) feels like it is starting to turn around,” Schmidt said.
In late 2007, Lakeland launched an online catalog system, providing customers with instant ordering access.
“The online catalog has given our customer another option,” said Craig Knueppel, operations manager. “The Lakeland Advantage gives (customers) the advantage by using us as a one-stop source.”
The company’s Lakeland Advantage provides customers with value-added services, including monthly billing, vendor managed inventory (VMI) and consignment programs.
“To focus on the lean initiative to be on-time and when the customer needs it then we are the lean in-between catalyst for customers to have what they need when they need it,” Knueppel said.
The company started in 1988 and it initially focused on supplying janitorial products. Today, the firm provides packaging solutions, such as boxes, bubble wrap and other products, to customers.
“The Midwest area, especially right here in Wisconsin, with all the manufacturing, is really the packaging capital of the world in this Chicago-Milwaukee corridor, and they found that there was much more business to be had in that arena and less companies doing it,” said Knueppel.
Lakeland executives try to keep open lines of communication among employees and host quarterly organizational meetings. The company recently held its quarterly meeting at an archery range.
“When Vince addressed us, he said, ‘What is stopping us? The sky is the limit,'” Knueppel said.
Lakeland recently opened a sales office in Fox Valley.
“We have new things on the horizon for new business. There is a lot on the table,” Schmidt said.
The company is known by many for its inspirational Christian messages along Interstate 94. According to Knueppel the company has received countless e-mails applauding the organization and thanking them for their uplifting messages.
“Lakeland’s inspirational messages along I-94 show their unique philosophy,” said Suzanne Kelley, president of the Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce. “Lakeland has a business model where they treat everyone with tremendous attention and respect.”
The “sky is the limit” leadership and vision Schmidt brings to the organization is credited as the driving factor, both internally and externally, for the organization.
“There is really nothing that is stopping us from being successful, except for ourselves. There are endless opportunities for this company to grow and for us to succeed. And for us success isn’t all about the bottom line, it is about developing our employees and leaving our customers better than they were before,” Knueppel said.
Lakeland Supply, Inc. Strategic Partner:
(262) 439-4700 • www.div-ins.com