Keeping Distribution Rolling

Axiom Material Handling Solutions
Written by Pauline Müller

Downtime in any mechanized industry is an expensive misfortune. That is why owners of large warehouses, distribution centers, automated self-retrieval systems, and goods-to-person systems turn to Axiom Material Handling Solutions for turnkey services and unfailing support. As a self-performing contractor, this mainstay of specialized mechanical installations within the material handling industry has established itself as a true leader in its field.

Axiom Material Handling Solutions (AMHS) joined the Axiom Group of Companies not long ago—and it is excelling. Sister company AXIOM Millwrighting & Fabrication Inc., now Axiom Industrial Solutions, was purchased in 2012 by Joe Sferrazza, Chief Executive Officer and President, and has been in business for over twenty years.

Founded only three years ago and headed up by Mark McGuire, Program Manager, this latest addition to the Axiom group grew to a staff of ten people by the end of its second quarter. By the end of 2021, the team had trebled in size. With a focus on the distribution and e-fulfillment markets, the team manages sophisticated material handling equipment installations. The company counts on a mixed group of millwrights, tradespeople, and in-house trained installers from its large stable of Axiom experts for quality work that stands head and shoulders above the competition.

The company’s customers enjoy prime service delivery with custom fabrication, a dedicated project manager, expert installation and supervision, total robot station layouts for installations, and operational and maintenance aftercare.

AMHS is also proud of being 100-plus people strong, with staff working across North America. As a group of companies, Axiom’s North American presence spans Canada, the United States, and Mexico. Its North American headquarters is in Cambridge, Ontario, and forms part of the international Axiom group. Some of its companies are subsidiaries held by Axiom, while others operate as partners, and this approach has allowed the group to build an impressive and dynamic service network with easily accessible service points.

To stay ahead in the game, service is the company’s main point of difference. AMHS sees its team as its greatest secret to success. “Our trust in one another and the fact that we willingly empower each member of the team—alongside the fact that we maintain a bond of transparency—is important to us. If at any time, somebody feels they are struggling, they can go to somebody else on the team to seek help,” says McGuire.

This approach has been tremendously beneficial. “What stood out about our team during COVID was how we adapted to a dynamic situation. Our willingness to adapt was the key defining feature,” McGuire continues. Instead of closing up shop, this team forged ahead and found ways of bringing projects to fruition and serving customers while following the safety measures the company had in place.

Whatever brief periods of downtime did occur due to market fluctuations around that time were put to good use, identifying any gaps and executing significant upgrades and improvements to facilities, technology, and systems. In addition, the training courses the company introduced on new tools and techniques were complemented with courses in mental health awareness, a timely and open-minded step for reinforcing the company’s positive workplace culture.

This step is very much in line with the company’s original values of taking care of its employees. And the proof is in its staff retention; recently, the company celebrated two employees’ fifteen-year tenures, followed by several employees who will soon be marking ten-year anniversaries with the company. Several people have also been with the firm for over five years, which stands as testimony to how much people enjoy working here.

Axiom works on tremendously large projects that often run for over a year, making the presence and input of long-term staff invaluable. A high staff turnover would be disastrous on such complex projects, which is why the company does everything in its power to take care of its people, McGuire confirms.

“It is a big thing for us to ensure that we have [good staff] retention. It ensures that we can maintain a certain culture, and that we can see people grow within the company and provide them with opportunities within the company to feel challenged, valued and to want to come into work every day,” says McGuire. Fun team-building events are just example of how the company gives thanks to its sterling team of industry experts.

In tandem with its investments in training, the company also took the opportunity to position these new resources in a way that makes its overall operations more efficient. The approach has proved successful, enabling the company to grow its team from fifty in Canada as of August 2022 to an additional team of more than fifty in the United States. “It is a unique opportunity for us to expand across North America and to expand some of our operations in the United States,” McGuire says.

“Within the group of companies, and in AMHS specifically, we are very employee-driven,” he continues. “And we strive to ensure that every employee has the opportunity for growth and training, to learn and to be challenged. That, in turn, creates loyalty for our brand,” he says, pointing out that the company’s wealth resides in its people. “We want to make sure that our employees are treated fairly. It helps people to keep their sanity; it helps to manage stress.”

This is why, at Axiom, people like the idea of the road being long. They get to develop and grow from one position into the next “without the risk of having to manage burnout,” as McGuire says. For this reason, people starting in entry-level positions stand a likely chance to complete three-year projects in higher positions—something the leadership team fully supports. Its leadership team also keeps a close eye on people’s stress and workload levels to ensure that nobody is in danger of burnout.

Another great perk is that the company’s managers benefit from leadership and corporate training via virtual expert coaching sessions. This has brought incredible strength to its teams by giving them the tools they need to perform better. The entire team benefits from being equipped with the knowledge they need to protect and improve overall health and morale and to build resilience.

While the company does not necessarily announce its charitable work, a philanthropic approach underpins the company culture. Axiom team members are well-known for giving generously of their time and effort to help support the much-needed work of many local charities. To this end, the company goes all out to encourage employees in their charitable contributions, in some cases matching staff donations made to such organizations dollar for dollar.

Of course, as world events impact the business landscape, geopolitics and the economic changes that result continue to dictate global material availability and pricing. Along with this, an international call for higher productivity is driving a trend for improved technology. As a result, automation and advanced software have brought about considerable changes to all aspects of this industry. “Automation is increasing productivity, and it is creating new opportunities. We are pretty bullish on that; I do not think that will slow down,” says McGuire. With labour in high demand, all indicators are that he is correct.

Moving ahead, growing and supporting its team is where the company will continue to derive its strength. That includes providing staff with an inclusive, diverse space in which to develop to their best. “We respect this diversity that we see around us,” says McGuire. “And we ultimately use it as a strength because it provides a lot more tools for us to support our employees and build relationships with our customers [while tackling the challenges] that we face.” As online sales and distribution continue to soar, there is no doubt that this company is set to achieve tremendous ongoing success.

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