Herb Hays Furniture using grant funds to modernize warehouse ops

HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. — Employees at Herb Hays Furniture & Mattress in Hopkinsville will tell you the adage “you can’t win if you don’t enter” is true.

After one of the Hopkinsville, Ky.-based retailer’s employees entered Synchrony’s Pillars Project, the store was awarded a $10,000 grant and consulting services for digitally transforming their business. With the funds, owner Lee Ann Naghtin said Herb Hays will upgrade its warehousing operations.

Naghtin said Jenna Jenkins, Herb Hays’ front desk receptionist, took it upon herself to fill out the program’s application, which asks several questions about community involvement and other ways the 61-year-old retailer is part of the local fabric.

Lee Ann Naghtin
Lee Ann Naghtin

“One of the questions was what makes our business great,” Naghtin told Furniture Today. “A lot of what makes us unique is we’re locally owned and operated, and the people who work here make everything work. Everybody here likes their job and likes working together. They work well together.

“We do a lot of charitable donations. We support our local Pink Ribbon network,” she continued. “Last year, we gave our local Pink Ribbon $5,000. We love our community.”

So how did Naghtin and her team react when word came that they won? “We cried! It was pretty overwhelming,” she said. “There were more than 500 applicants across the U.S. When we got picked to be a finalist, we were pretty happy with that. There were 21 winners for the 2022 grants. We were ecstatic. It was amazing.”

Naghtin said upgrading the warehouse is one of the retailer’s most pressing needs, and the funds will make it possible.

“With the funds we got, we are going to enable computer access to our warehouse and implement barcoding and make it easier for the people there,” she said. “We don’t have Internet in the warehouse, so they have to walk back and forth. Implementing bar coding will make everybody’s job easier, we hope.”

Launched in 2016, Synchrony’s small business grant program has honored entrepreneurial retail owners and health and wellness providers who have risen above in times of change. The Pillars Project Grant was open to both current and prospective partners of Synchrony and CareCredit, a Synchrony Solution, with 30 or fewer employees. This year’s application focused on both the vision and transformation of the business: how the business adopted digital tools and processes to adapt to changing needs, how the business adopted digital tools and processes to adapt to changing needs. Herb Hays was the only furniture retailer selected for a grant.

“Supporting small businesses with grants is a foundational component to Synchrony’s commitment to help partners grow,” said Kelly Aravena, vice president, Synchrony Connect. “With the aid of these funds and our experts giving time and talent, small businesses can continue their digital transformation journey by leveraging data, highlighting insights, and growing their businesses.”

By the end of 2022, Synchrony will have made similar Pillars Project grants to more than 80 small businesses and providers across the United States chosen from more than 4,500 applications, with nearly 100 of Synchrony’s top experts delivering pro bono services and grants valued at more than $850,000.

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