Heating contract manager, Jason Grinstead models the company’s new hi-vis vest

Steve Gray of TSS Facilities tells Images what he looks for in a hi-vis and workwear supplier

TSS Facilities is a long-established company whose team of 49 staff offers a range of mechanical engineering and environmental solutions for heating, cooling and water hygiene installations in domestic, commercial and industrial properties across the south-east of England.

The work they do frequently requires staff to wear yellow hi-vis vests, explains general manager Steve Gray, with orange ones bought when needed for trackside work. When Steve joined the company three months ago, one of his first tasks was to update the uniform in line with the company’s rebrand, with plum to be the main brand colour. Before ordering the new uniform, he first changed suppliers. “I didn’t think the service we were getting from the previous supplier was very good – there seemed to be poor communication and the quality of the stuff wasn’t brilliant,” says Steve.
Clive Gordon, of Gordon House Promotions, met the managing director of TSS at a local fundraising meeting and impressed him with his ability to be accommodating and flexible. As well as providing samples for all the new garments, Clive has been proactive in offering ideas for products the company might need for both its workwear and its marketing activities.

The old hi-vis vests had white writing on them – a decision taken by TSS and one that hasn’t worked out as the white font was hard to read, says Steve. The new hi vis vests with Velcro front are from Uneek, and will be screen printed in plum to match the new TSS Facilities branding. The TSS Facilities logo will be on the back, along with the web address and phone number.

The main factor guiding the choice of vests was cost, says Steve. “I had spent quite a few thousand pounds on uniforms as it was more important, in my view, that I spend more money on the shirts: rather than going for cheap polos I’ve gone for Fruit of the Loom so that they’re more comfortable. With the money I had left I had to buy the PPE – that is, hard hats and hi-vis. I didn’t go for cheap-cheap [hi-vis], but I did go for low cost, because we go through a lot. Some of the tasks we do, the vests get quite dirty, or engineers leave them at home or on site, or they get torn… It’s not as though we’re buying a coat. For what they are, they’re value for money.”

To ensure he has enough for the 30 engineers employed by the company, Steve has ordered 50 new hi-vis vests this year, which he says gives him enough to have spares. He expects to order another 50 vests next year, noting that they tend to last six months to a year at the most.

It’s important to have branded hi-vis tops, believes Steve. “If you’re on a site where there are multi-trades it means you can find a TSS operative.”

A point often overlooked when ordering hi-vis is the sizing, Steve adds, suggesting that decorators need to discuss sizes if they want the customer to be happy with end result. A common approach is to opt for XL only, leaving some people drowning in over-sized vests and others finding it a tight squeeze. The vests may not be expected to last more than a year, but they are meant to allow people to work in them easily, so the size is important, he advises.

Offering samples to customers so they can ensure their branding really stands out on the hi-vis background is also a good strategy, he concludes.