When Harry Pierce sold his company Big Time Products, you knew he wouldn’t sit still in retirement. It wasn’t long before conversations with his brother-in-law and four-term Sheriff Tim Burkhalter and former Floyd County Prison Warden Jeff Chandler led to the creation of Hard Time Products. But don’t let the name fool you. Hard Time Products, which began in a man cave on the farm, serving the corrections industry, has expanded to the healthcare industry, even colleges and universities nationwide.
The company is led by Pierce, who serves as CEO, while Chandler and Burkhalter serve as President and Vice-President of Sales, respectively. Other officers include Mike Burkhalter, Vice-President of Supply Chain; Chase Patterson, the Chief Operating Officer; and Daniel Dougan, the SVP of Sales.
Each leadership team member brings unique skills to the table, making the sum of the company so much more effective than the individual parties. Pierce is a successful entrepreneur with contacts all around the world. Chandler and Tim Burkhalter’s contacts in the corrections industry have enabled the company to get into places that competitors’ sales personnel could never go, while Patterson and Mike Burkhalter know and understand the ins and outs of logistics and the supply chain as well as anyone in the country. Dougan is a licensed pharmacist who was rising through the corporate pharmaceutical world but gave it up because he wanted to learn from his father-in-law Pierce.
Did we mention that everyone is related except Chandler, who has become an adopted member of the greater Burkhalter family? Patterson said that as the company has grown to 27 employees, each person was the right person for the right job at the right time. “We didn’t hire anyone off of INDEED,” Patterson said.
“Tim and I had talked about doing a business for years,” Chandler said.” Harry had been sitting around for about two years (after selling Big Time Products), bored to death. He heard Tim and me talking, and he was surprised by that and said, Hey, you’re talking my language.”
The company started during the global Covid pandemic to help corrections and detention facilities cope with supply chain issues for various products used in jails and prisons across the country. “We saw the biggest oceanic freight debacle in our lifetime, and we decided to open a supply business,” Chandler said.
Tim Burkhalter explained that while COVID was such a disaster for so many companies, it helped hasten Hard Time’s growth because, to start, one of the first big products they got involved with was gloves that had to be worn by corrections personnel. Pierce had contacts with vendors overseas through his former company. Actually, he helped develop gloves that were custom-fit for customers.
Retired Sheriff Burkhalter and Chandler also said that during COVID-19, they were busy attending conferences and meetings in person, showing off products, and establishing relationships with future customers. At the same time, competitors sent checks for booth space but never showed up in person.
Hard Time sources its inventory from all over the world. “Towels, sheets, uniforms, shoes, everything it’s very competitive, and it’s all imported,” Pierce said. Most of the items are manufactured to specifications developed by Hard Time for its customers. Pierce said that kind of customer service has helped the company grow rapidly. Patterson also stressed that quality control is critical to the company’s success, which inspects all of its products before they go out to customers.
Wherever possible, Chandler said the company uses local facilities and vendors to help the Rome and Floyd County economy. Uniforms are screen printed locally, and the company has acquired the former Evans Construction facility off the Alabama Highway for its warehousing. The company has converted approximately 5,000 square feet of that warehouse space to USDA-approved space for storing commissary food items.
The USDA-approved space is important to the company’s latest venture, “The Call Store.” The company has software in jails and prisons across the region that allows inmates to special order goodies like chips and crackers, which are delivered to the institutions once a week.
Expanding beyond the corrections was an easy decision.
Hard Time is marketing items for use across the healthcare industry. It also partnered with the University of Georgia to offer custom food containers with the Bulldog’s logos, anything to impress a recruit!
The leadership team constantly looks for ways to expand services and make the company’s operation more efficient for its clients. Pierce, in particular, has had much success through the years due to this dedication to customer service.
When you say the days of exemplary customer service are gone, you haven’t been to the Hard Time Products offices on Broad Street or the warehouse out the Alabama Highway.