As CEO of the leading manufacturer of portable evaporative cooling, Ben Wulf sets a fast and furious pace for achieving goals at Portacool, LLC based in Center, Texas, near the Louisiana border. Since becoming CEO in 2014, Wulf has challenged himself and Portacool’s 342 employees towards new heights relative to product development, manufacturing capacities and world-class customer service.
From the beginning, one of Wulf’s main objectives has been to build awareness around the importance of keeping employees safe and productive in high-heat areas and how Portacool products can serve as a solution. There are a number of working environment scenarios where this is the case. Whether in an industrial shop where heat is generated by machinery, on a warehouse loading dock or in a garage setting that requires the doors be kept open, or even on an outdoor construction jobsite – Wulf wants managers to know that Portacool has a wide variety of powerful, efficient products to help employers keep their staff safe and productive.
Wulf takes great pride in ‘walking the walk’ when it comes to using Portacool products to do exactly for his own facility what Portacool sells to its customers. With a 500,000 square foot manufacturing facility that can reach temperatures of more than 100°F, he is all too familiar with what it takes to keep his own team safe, healthy and productive at the Portacool facility.It is this knowledge and first-hand experience that gives him insight into the challenges and considerations that his management-level peers are faced with every day. He knows what keeps caring managers up at night and drives their tenacity during the day.
“Here at Portacool, we honestly believe safety is more than a state of mind or philosophical approach,” said Wulf. “At the end of the day, the burden is on me to make sure every one of my team members is going to return home – and return home safely – each and every night to their loved ones.
“It is truly one of the things that keeps me up at night – ensuring we did our part in making sure that not only my team goes home safely, but ALL the other people around the world that are using our products are keeping their staff safe from the dangers of heat stress.”
Wulf believes you have to proactively create a culture of safety. Often pushing back from his front office desk, he actively takes a role in walking the plant floor. He views talking with his leaders and employees on the line as equally important. His belief is when they see that upper-management cares, they can feel more confident about sharing what they see working and what could be improved.
Listening to employees and monitoring the plant’s hottest areas led to ensuring cool air is flowing around the plant by placing more than 70 Portacool portable evaporative coolers throughout the facility. These products not only help to combat the heat off-put by the machinery, but also the sweltering Texas heat that affects operations nearly half of the year.
“We practice what we preach here at our manufacturing plant in Center, and that is ensuring safety is number one,” said Wulf. “And, with safety in place, we find morale and productivity is more likely to naturally follow. When our team members feel comfortable and safe, they in turn do a more effective job. The result is win-win.”
Wulf is clear to note one final thought, “We know one thing for certain: Providing employees with a cool, comfortable environment is more than a luxury, it is a necessity. It can be the matter of life and death. We refuse to be part of the heat-stress statistics at our facility and we are going to take every precaution.”