Starting as a small typewriter repair and office supply store in the late 1940s, no one could have envisioned the growth that this third-generation, family-owned company would see. 79 years later, COE Distributing is the nation’s largest wholesale distributor of office furniture. With its own private label product OfficeSource, COE has forward-thinking products that are great for any work environment. From the high-end executive office to a small office tucked in the corner of a home, OfficeSource provides modern, sleek, comfortable, and efficient furniture options that will meet any budget.
With a 270,000 sq. ft. warehouse space, located in Smock, PA, which just underwent a massive expansion in the last year, to another 180,000 sq. ft distribution center in Charlotte, NC, COE has always been a company of continuous growth, looking to satisfy its nationwide customer base. However, COE has not stopped at two distribution centers. A third location is opening in Houston, Texas in October. With this new 250,000 sq. ft
Along with the growth in distribution centers, COE is also welcoming many new team members to the company. The company has increased its workforce by 49 employees in the last two years, going from 59 team members to 108. Just in the last year, they have added 30 new faces.
Ewing contributes much of the growth in team members to the company’s employee engagement programs. At COE, team members participate in quarterly book clubs. All the books read, are ones that Ewing himself and the leadership team have read through and believe in. Some of these books include “Becoming Your Best,” by Steven Shallenberger, “The Ideal Team Player,” by Patrick Lencioni, and “Scaling Up,” by Verne Harnish, which is the newest one the team is reading, and is one that the Executive Team has been working through for the last couple of years.
From these books, Ewing has gathered many effective practices that have been implemented and proven successful at COE, including the Start, Stop, Continue Employee Survey and hiring team members that are humble, hungry and smart both in life and at work.
Along with the book club, COE also offers an Employee of the Quarter Recognition Program and the new Rising Stars Program, where four team members are chosen through an interview process, to work alongside the Executive Team and Managers/Supervisors within a year’s period, to set them up for the next level of leadership. Within this program, they are able to spend time one-on-one with the Executive Team, travel to see customers and other distribution centers, work their way through webinars, help the leadership team find solutions to areas of improvement, and so much more. This program has already shown great success, with our current four rising stars taking immense pride in what they are doing.
Because Ewing believes that people are the difference makers, and contributes much of COE’s success to his humble, hungry and smart team members, outside organizations have taken notice. The Pittsburgh Penguins have recently named COE as their first-ever Proud Employee Engagement Partner. After realizing that COE and the Pittsburgh Penguins share similar values and employee engagement opportunities, the partnership easily became something that both organizations were excited to roll out.
The partnership will enhance employee engagement efforts at COE, with Penguins experiences, will provide opportunities to continue learning and growing in the company’s core values, will connect COE employees to the passion of the Penguins, and will promote a culture of winning and innovation. The Warrior Helmet Program, which was created based off of the Penguins’ locker room ritual, of a teammate passing the helmet off each game to another player who did something impactful during the game, is something COE is excited to implement into the company, to recognize the dedicated employees, who strive to be their best every day.
Due to COE’s continuous hard work, growth, and innovation, the company has not only been recognized by outside organizations like the Penguins, but has also received many high honors and awards. COE has made the Inc. 5000 list for six consecutive years, has received the Smart 50 Award six times, and has also received the Pittsburgh Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies and Largest Private Companies in the Pittsburgh Region Awards multiple times. Ewing has also been an Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist. As you can see, both COE and Ewing have been busy, and both are not slowing down anytime soon!
And while Ewing, COE and its team members are hard at work every day, they all still find time to give back and serve the community through things such as an employee matching fund at the Community Foundation of Fayette County, as well as volunteering time on numerous Fayette County non-profit boards. COE also participates in internship programs, community events that benefit local people and/or organizations, sends Christmas gifts to families in need, and has a big role in Pennsylvania’s Challenge Program, which recognizes high school students in multiple areas and helps prepare them for their future careers. Most recently, COE has become involved with the Greater Houston Partnership, which will help connect our company with Houston and will give our team members opportunities to learn and grow more in the community down in Texas.
Being around since the 1940s, COE has seen immense growth and opportunities. Ewing attributes the company’s success to the team members, the customers, and the vendors, saying that without them, COE would not be where it is today. With 108 team members and three distribution centers, the company is already a force to be reckoned with and isn’t going