Since 2013, Gluvco Safety Equipment has rounded up thousands of pairs of gloves for kids in Central Ohio.
“Every pair of gloves that we sell, we give a pair of winter gloves back to a kid in need,” says Founder and President Dustin McMillan.
He started developing the idea about five years ago, aiming for a product-driven company with a philanthropic backbone.
“That’s always been at the forefront,” McMillan says.
But it was a deeply impacting personal experience that aimed the eventual business’ efforts at gloves. McMillan bundled up his son to take him sledding with a friend on a bitterly cold day. When they went to pick up his son’s friend, “He got in the car and he was literally wearing tennis shoes, jeans and a hoodie,” McMillan says.
He asked himself, “If this kid is in Dublin and he doesn’t have simple necessities…what are the other kids dealing with that live in different areas?”
McMillan started researching and found that over 700,000 children in Ohio live in poverty. He was shocked at the number of kids that went without the basics like gloves, so he decided to do something about it. He wanted to focus his social enterprise on children in need because, “They don’t choose their circumstances,” McMillan says.
This was also about the time Toms Shoes one-for-one campaign was gaining serious momentum.
“Why couldn’t I take that model and apply it to our own local economy and do a one-to-one program with gloves,” McMillian asked himself, thus creating the basis for Gluvco Safety Equipment.
With a background in manufacturing and the fracking boom that was happening in the state, safety equipment made sense. Gluvco started strictly with gloves, eventually expanding into a full line of any safety equipment a construction, manufacturing or industrial company would need. Gluvco is an e-commerce distributor selling multiple brands and manufacturers (there are seven pages of gloves alone!).
Gluvco started selling wares in 2013, amassing just under 1,000 pairs of gloves for Columbus’ youth. They even outfitted an entire elementary school with new gloves. While final numbers aren’t in for last year, McMillan ballparks that they are nearing triple that figure.
“We have actually had difficulty giving all the gloves away,” he says.
But, he knows there are more than enough kids in Columbus in need that they should be able to impact thousands of young lives. Gluvco is also focused on saturating the Columbus market before moving to other cities.
While Gluvco normally finds hands for the new gloves, a large enough order and a customer can decide what organization receives the donation. Order over $5,000 worth of gloves and a business can choose a specific charity or community to support. McMillan also says that should a company from another city like Boston or Chicago choose them as a supplier, they would be happy to work with organizations in that community to donate the gloves.
McMillan isn’t sure that every business that buys from them always realizes their social mission, but “It’s just becoming more and more on the forefront, especially in Central Ohio,” he says.
He believes that if more businesses weren’t so focused on just profits and instead took on a social mission, a lot of problems could be solved. More companies and customers are starting to agree.
Gluvco is working on building more partnerships with Columbus businesses, aiming to bring on some of those $5,000 relationships. The city itself has taken notice as well. Gluvco became a vendor with the City of Columbus.
“That would be a tremendous opportunity for everyone,” McMillan says.
For more information, visit gloveco.com.