Protective Industrial Products Inc., a workwear and safety products wholesale manufacturer, builds its future course with business intelligence and digital commerce.

Protective Industrial Products Inc. launched in 1984 as a work gloves supplier by two guys with $2,000 to invest and a good grasp on where their industry was heading.

Co-founders Wellson Tao and Joe Milot went on to invest in the newest glove manufacturing technology and expanded into additional personal protective equipment for industrial and residential use. By 2015, with Milot as the president and CEO,  steady growth — both organic and through acquisitions — took PIP past $200 million in annual sales of industrial and construction markets.

The goal is always that we want to adapt to our customers. We don’t want our customers to have to adapt to feel comfortable in how we use commerce technology.
Anthony Di Giovanni, chief marketing officer
Protective Industrial Products Inc.

Today, with Milot still at the helm, the Latham, New York-based wholesale manufacturer — commonly known as PIP — is riding a new wave of growth sparked by digital commerce.

PIP -ProtectiveIndustrialProducts global headquarters

PIP’s new headquarters in Latham, New York.

From a new 60,000-square-foot headquarters launched in June at twice the size of the company’s former head office, PIP operates with more than 1,500 employees across 20 global locations. With about 1.5 million square feet of warehouse space, it supplies more than 5,000 products under such brands as Boss, G-Tek and Ironcat industrial work gloves and Bouton “stylish safety” eyeglasses to more than 4,000 customers ranging from Turner Construction to aerospace giant Boeing Co. PIP’s West Chester division sells PPE to retailers as well as garden gloves packaged and designed for pro-contractors and D-I-Y consumers.


As a portfolio company now of Odyssey Investment Partners, PIP doesn’t publicize its revenue but notes that its business has surged the past two years.

Engaging customers however they choose

Fortunately for PIP, the company had deployed new digital commerce technology in 2019 to help process customers’ orders, just months before the COVID-19 pandemic thrust its industry into overdrive as demand surged for safety products.

But the pandemic was not the sole impetus for the manufacturer’s growth and its improved connection with customers.


Sheila Schalk, vice president of industrial sales, PIP


In recent years PIP has blended ecommerce, enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), business intelligence, product information management, marketing automation and other technology applications to better understand customers and interact with them based on their needs. Many of PIP’s channel partners operate on common technology platforms that integrate with the manufacturer’s ERP, making it easier for customers to place electronic data interchange (EDI) orders and also access inventory information.

PIP’s growth strategy is built in large part on its ability to engage customers wherever and however they choose, the company says.

“A big pillar is to be easy to do business with,” says Sheila Schalk, vice president of industrial sales. The ability of customers to “purchase any time of day was critical to us,” she says.

A new B2B ecommerce portal

PIP’s digital properties are built around, its umbrella site for information on the company and its products and services. includes links to 11 websites in the local languages of markets in the United States, Canada, Europe, Latin America, Asia and Australia. Its visitors can get information on products available in their markets.

Anthony Di Giovanni - ProtectiveIndustrialProducts

Anthony Di Giovanni, chief marketing officer, PIP

PIP does not sell direct to B2B end customers. For the United States, provides a self-service ordering portal — — for PIP’s distributors. The portal runs on the Epicor Eclipse ecommerce platform, which integrates with PIP’s Epicor ERP system. MyPIP lets distributors place orders to satisfy the demand from their end customers. They can also check order status, and view and pay invoices. They can also preview full costs including freight.

Once an order is placed, “it can take as little as 15 minutes for pick, pack and ship,” says Anthony Di Giovanni, PIP’s chief marketing officer.

Outside of the MyPIP portal, end customers on can search among products. To place an order, they can use a rep-finder tool to locate and contact via email or phone the nearest PIP distributor sales reps. Distributors can also use the tool to get contact information for a PIP sales manager. also provides live chat and email contact with PIP customer service.


‘We want to adapt to our customers’

By offering a mix of self-service ecommerce and the option to place orders directly with sales reps and managers, PIP adheres to its policy of accommodating customers according to how they want to do business, Di Giovanni says.

“The goal is always that we want to adapt to our customers,” Di Giovanni says.  “We don’t want our customers to have to adapt to feel comfortable in how we use commerce technology.”

But PIP’s full suite of business software also enables the company to better serve customers in their chosen purchasing channel. That helps PIP to anticipate and respond to customers’ needs, the company says.


PIP processes about 30% of its orders electronically.


PIP processes about 30% of its customer orders electronically, including through self-service ecommerce, optical character recognition, and EDI. That level of electronic commerce, for one thing, helps PIP to maintain a high level of accuracy in order processing. With nearly all electronic orders going straight to a PIP warehouse, a recent tally found only 2% that needed personal attention to fix an order error, arrange for a back-order, or address some other issue, Di Giovanni says.

A crucial part of the integrated technology applications is PIP’s product information management system, or PIM. It ensures that the manufacturer’s product information is updated and accurate across all selling channels.

“The advantage of PIM is that it removes the critical need for all PIP global entities to be on the same ERP,” Schalk says. “PIM is the great equalizer.”

A strategic partner for distributors

The company also deploys business intelligence software along with complementary applications designed to help it better understand and service customers. Using a Revenue Intelligence suite of integrated CRM and business intelligence software from White Cup, PIP compiles and analyzes information on supply and customer demand to be more helpful to customers while also setting effective pricing strategies.


Like many companies, PIP has deployed a CRM system to modernize its sales team. Its taking its team from using paper notebooks to online electronic databases to manage customer accounts.

“We’ve taken CRM beyond that,”  Di Giovanni says. “We use CRM now as a tool to help gain insights into our business, uncover opportunities faster.”

As part of the White Cup suite, PIP’s CRM application integrates with the MITS BI business intelligence tool. The MITS tool compiles and analyzes customer data so PIP can provide a more helpful customer experience for PIP’s distributors and, in turn, the end customers those distributors sell to.

“That MITS tool has given us insights into our business, which allows us to ask better questions, make better decisions, and work faster for our customers  — and in many cases, tell them things about their business they didn’t know,” Di Giovanni says. “That really helps us be a strategic partner with distributors.”


Faster conversions of customer activity

The mix of CRM and business intelligence software also helps PIP move ahead more quickly on business opportunities.

“The business intelligence tools have allowed us to be two times more effective in converting customer meetings into opportunities,”  Schalk says.

For example, when a distributor asks in a meeting about past sales performance for a particular product category, PIP sales reps can immediately access that information online.

“We’re closing on those opportunities 75% faster than we were prior to having these business intelligence tools in place,” she adds.


To keep new business flowing into PIP, the company uses HubSpot marketing automation software to keep in touch with distributors and end customers. It entices them with the latest products and features helpful to the people who rely on PIP’s work gloves and other safety products in industrial settings, construction sites, and home gardens.

PIP’s mix of digital technology applications, Di Giovanni says, helps the wholesale manufacturer operate as a valuable partner to its distributors and, in turn, end customers.

“For us, it’s being able to use data in a way that allows us to continue to bring more value to our customers,” Di Giovanni says.

Sign up

Sign up for a complimentary subscription to Digital Commerce 360 B2B News, published 4x/week. It covers technology and business trends in the growing B2B ecommerce industry. Contact editor Paul Demery at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @pdemery.


Follow us on LinkedIn and be the first to know when new Digital Commerce 360 B2B News content is published.