SOURCE: Polycom, Inc.

Polycom, Inc.

February 10, 2010 08:30 ET

UniFirst Realizes Significant Cost Savings and Fosters Collaboration With Polycom Telepresence

Family-Oriented Company Reaps Benefits of Polycom Visual Communication Solutions

WILMINGTON, MA and PLEASANTON, CA--(Marketwire - February 10, 2010) - UniFirst, a leading supplier of uniforms, work apparel, and related business products to companies throughout North America, strives to maintain a tightly knit, family-like culture with its 10,000 Team Partner employees. But, like so many large companies, UniFirst has been challenged by the high expense and costly downtime related to corporate training programs and associated travel. That's why UniFirst turned to Polycom, Inc. (NASDAQ: PLCM) telepresence solutions to enable productive, face-to-face meetings and training sessions without the high costs associated with travel.

After only a few months of use, UniFirst is already on-track to meet its primary goal of significantly reducing travel expenses and achieving a 100 percent ROI in the first year of implementing its new video network. "Not only is video conferencing enabling us to significantly reduce travel costs, but it's also giving us the opportunity to offer more personalized training to more people, more often," said Kelley O'Leary, UniFirst manager of Performance and Training Support.

UniFirst serves more than 225,000 customer locations throughout North America via its 202 facilities. Effective employee training has historically required costly, travel-heavy programs to maintain work consistency coast-to-coast. But, a top-down productivity initiative from UniFirst CEO Ronald D. Croatti resulted in the deployment of an extensive high-definition Polycom video collaboration network to connect all UniFirst operations. Initially designed to reduce travel costs, which the company is already realizing, UniFirst is now also making significant productivity gains in many other aspects of its operations.

"We began as a family company, where everyone was on a first-name basis. And, in fact, that's one of the things that differentiates us in this industry," explained O'Leary. "Today, we're a billion-dollar company with employees spread throughout North America. Our new video conferencing network is now helping us maintain and nurture that small-company culture by bringing people closer together in real time."

Among the key reasons UniFirst partnered with Polycom was the extensive training application expertise offered by the company's Industry Solutions Team. The deployment of a training-focused video conferencing network meant that UniFirst's in-person training materials and techniques had to be fine-tuned for video delivery. With Polycom's support, UniFirst was able to move forward with confidence, knowing that personalized, onsite instruction to help facilitate the transition was always at hand.

"Polycom sent training experts to our corporate headquarters to provide in-person guidance and support. It was truly invaluable. We simply chose the materials and information we felt were most appropriate for our deployment and integrated them into the training process," said Jodi Howshan, UniFirst training specialist. "Polycom really partnered with us. They were interested in our program's success, not just in closing the deal. They really went out of their way to get the job done."

Once UniFirst selected Polycom, the company wasted no time in implementing its comprehensive visual communications network. The team went live with 75 Polycom HDX™ 7000 telepresence systems at each of its plant locations across the U.S. and Canada within the span of just one month. They also use the Polycom RMX 2000 real-time media conference platform to support multisite calls and Polycom's Converged Management Application™ (CMA™) 4000 to centrally manage the video collaboration network. A Polycom RSS™ 2000 provides on-demand recording, streaming, and archiving of UniFirst training sessions. UniFirst also plans to expand video collaboration to additional UniFirst facilities and leverage the Polycom CMA Desktop video software client to deliver leadership training on a more one-on-one basis.

Brian Doiron, UniFirst senior IT manager for UniFirst Network and Computing Services, said the video network is easy to manage from an IT perspective and UniFirst employees have rapidly adopted the technology with very little training required.

"Because the visual communication solution is integrated with our Lotus Notes scheduling system, we can easily schedule and manage video conferences," said Doiron. "Our employees simply schedule meetings in Lotus Notes as they have in the past, and all they need to do is designate the meeting as a video meeting in Lotus Notes. Everything else is handled automatically. This capability has encouraged the rapid adoption of our video conferencing systems with very little support required on the part of IT."

From the network management perspective, Doiron said, "The CMA has made managing and upgrading our Polycom HDX endpoints a simple task. With the CMA, we're able to manage the amount of bandwidth that the HDX endpoints use for each meeting. It also allows us to schedule upgrades of our HDX endpoints off hours, automatically reducing downtime and staff."

UniFirst's O'Leary noted that employees at all levels of UniFirst are finding uses for video collaboration beyond training. "We've had a number of regional vice presidents use video for meetings where they discuss things like budget issues, operations, or sales with their managers or supervisors. We're even seeing recruitment interviews now being done using video. We're definitely finding additional ways to maximize the ROI of the network."

With the help of Topsfield, Mass.-based integrator Totalcom Solutions, UniFirst has also installed a customized training studio at their Wilmington headquarters to further enhance their capabilities to deliver corporate training classes. "Right now, about 75 percent of our training is delivered in a traditional classroom setting, but within 18 months, we expect that to switch dramatically. We'll have 75 percent of our training over video and the remaining 25 percent in person," said O'Leary.

To learn more about UniFirst's use of Polycom solutions, click here.

About UniFirst

UniFirst is a leading supplier of uniforms and work clothing to 225,000 business locations in all industries throughout the U.S. and Canada. The company also provides facility services cleanliness products, such as restroom items and floor mats. For more information, contact UniFirst at 800.225.3364 or

About the Polycom Open Collaboration Network

Polycom's integration efforts with its partners support Polycom's Open Collaboration Network strategy, providing an open and interoperable collaboration solution that gives customers greater flexibility and investment protection for their UC environment. By working with leading unified communications platform providers, Polycom is able to deliver its productivity-enhancing and cost-saving telepresence, video and voice collaboration products as an integrated part of core unified communication environments, making the technologies easily accessible as part of the everyday workflow within a comprehensive solution that is easy to deploy and manage.

About Polycom

Polycom, Inc. (NASDAQ: PLCM) is the global leader in telepresence, video, and voice solutions and a visionary in communications that empower people to connect and collaborate everywhere. Visit for more information and follow us on Twitter @AllAboutPolycom.

© 2009 Polycom, Inc. All rights reserved. POLYCOM®, the Polycom "Triangles" logo and the names and marks associated with Polycom's products are trademarks and/or service marks of Polycom, Inc. and are registered and/or common law marks in the United States and various other countries. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.

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    Polycom, Inc.
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