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Peter Bramsen, Product Leader and Frank Bramsen, CEO of Spraying Systems Co.

Sometimes the best way for a family business to start an ESG journey is to get started. This is the mindset of Spraying Systems, a 4th generation manufacturer of spray technologies. Founded in 1937 by Svend Bramsen, the former chief engineer at a Chicago-based paint spraying equipment manufacturer, Spraying Systems Co. began manufacturing and selling spray nozzles for non-paint spraying applications for cooling, washing, dispersing, and coating.

 “Today, our products are essential to controlling water and energy usage in many industrial and commercial applications,” said Frank Bramsen (G3), Spraying Systems’ CEO.

The company’s spray nozzles and equipment are used worldwide, from steel and semiconductor manufacturing, to fertilizing crops, cleaning produce, reducing air pollution, conserving water, and minimizing waste.

“Since the beginning of the company, our motto has been 'saving our customers time, money and energy,' added Frank. “Now, the focus in so many industries is on sustainable resource conservation. We have the privilege to assist our customers in their conservation efforts, and in doing so, we can reduce their resource and waste streams significantly.”

Spraying Systems practices what they preach. In 2006, the company became ISO 14001 certified, following standards that help organizations minimize their operation's negative impact on the environment. Since then, they have reduced their carbon footprint by 46%, started using renewable solar energy, and instituted a recycling program encompassing all its U.S. manufacturing.

ESG from the inside out.

Spraying Systems is headquartered in the Chicago suburbs and has 12 manufacturing facilities worldwide. It is strongly committed to its team, instituting fair and safe workplace practices across all its locations. Employee handbooks and policies have been created, reflecting the family’s values and ethics, United States’ anti-bribery laws, and more.

Because of its extensive global reach, Spraying Systems is committed to offsetting its carbon footprint by using fewer resources and producing less scrap. Part of this commitment was to develop their own sustainability team, including sustainability assessment managers, business and data analysts, and regional specialists across the United States and Canada.

“As we saw success in our sustainability efforts, we asked ourselves, ‘How can we share these efforts—and results—with others?” said Frank.

Sustainability Assessment Audits

Spraying Systems developed a Sustainability Assessment Program, offering their customers the opportunity to work with a dedicated team of engineers on their sustainability efforts.

“We were already helping our customers create and maintain their products,” said Frank. “It only made sense that we continue to elevate our partnerships by enabling them to improve and maintain their sustainability.”

The assessment program involves a unique, in-depth on-site audit of customer facilities and desired goals. The Spraying Systems team evaluates production and sanitation efforts, including a detailed analysis of processes, equipment, use of resources, and waste levels. The entire process is separated into four manageable phases: 

  • Phase One details immediate needs.
  • Phase Two looks at the impact of equipment adjustments on customer efforts and their bottom line.
  • Phase Three showcases potential investment areas to further the customer’s ESG efforts.
  • Phase Four looks at how Spraying Systems can equip customers to achieve their goals while decreasing their use of natural resources.

“When we started offering our sustainability assessment program, our customers shared fears that going sustainable would cost them more,” said Anthony Wood, Spraying Systems’ Corporate Sustainability Initiative Leader. “We’re able to show them how it actually reduces expenses and increases their revenue.”

Companies that work with Spraying Systems have saved an average of 131 million gallons of water annually by implementing all the water reduction recommendations. In addition, the audit tracks Metric Tons of CO2 emissions that would be reduced with the recommended improvements. This results in significant water, sewer, and energy savings.

“Having our team in the field is key,” said Frank. “If you’re not experienced in seeing products operating properly, you don’t know when systems aren’t working.”

Doing the right thing.

Frank and Anthony told us they’re hearing more of their customers’ requests for documentation of ESG efforts—a sentiment we heard across all our Family Business Heroes conversations. This increasing need for transparency aligns with the growing desire to do business with, and work for, companies operating at the intersection of profit and purpose. Spraying Systems is creating auditable employee and governance policies that will be published and shared later this year. 

“Not only do our customers expect us to do the right thing, but our employees and potential employees do as well,” said Frank. “I’m proud that we are a family and a business with strong values guiding our ways.”

Getting started.

Another recurring theme in talking with our Heroes’ families about starting an ESG practice or journey is to jump in and not overthink it. Many family businesses might find they already have ESG practices in place. They just haven’t identified or reported on them. 

Families in business are unique, yet many of the experiences are shared. That’s why we encourage families to connect with other families in business to learn and share best practices, successes, and challenges. This year’s Family Business Heroes program was designed to be a resource guide for families anywhere on their ESG journey. And we’ll provide insights from our sponsors, like this one from BDO on ESG Reporting, to provide you with a roadmap to measure where you are and where you’re headed.

Spraying Systems’ Advice 

  1. Don’t overthink it. Jump in and get started. Take stock of your current practices and policies and start capturing data.
  2. Ask for help. Spraying Systems works with third-party ESG audit firms for insights into standards, practices, and how they measure up in their field and globally.
  3. Never stop learning. Continuously look at ways to help your business and customers maintain and improve sustainability efforts. Which ESG practices are working, and what areas can be expanded?

“As we look to moving forward, our focus will be on exploring technology and then educating and training our team and customers to create and maintain good ESG habits,” added Frank.

Our sponsors

Special thanks to our premiere sponsor BMO for their longstanding and generous support of the Family Business Heroes Campaign. Thanks also to BDO and Katten for their sponsorship of this year's campaign.

Family Business Heroes Campaign 2022 sponsors