Keeping workers safe is an important factor to improve our customers’ bottom line. Safety, without compromising profitability, is a key balance we work toward. Good skilled workers are hard to find, so companies can’t afford to lose workers to unnecessary injuries, let alone the impact from related liability associated with accidents. We believe we have the answers and solutions to help prevent injuries and fatalities.

Modest beginnings
Hazmasters, celebrating 18 years in the safety business, eight locations across Canada, and 100-plus employees, doesn’t forget the modest beginnings or the people that have supported us. Randy Myers, president, began the business in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1989, with his business partner Tom Bowen. They realized there was a need for a safety distributor that could provide customers with better service.

Convinced they had a winning solution, the family home was sold, the proceeds utilized along with any savings and credit card credit to provide funding to start the western division of Hazmasters. Starting as a two-person operation with the motto “Where questions lead to better solutions,” they started to find solutions for our customers’ safety problems.

The business was built on listening to our customers, knowing the safety business, providing excellent service, and quality products. Focusing on our customers has allowed us to grow and expand our facilities. We offer customers a national support structure but with an awareness of their needs at the local level. Linking customers with our partners — safety equipment manufacturers, engineers and consultants — we are able to find the complete solutions for our customers.

In 1994 we added new partner Barrie Nichols so that Hazmasters could expand into Eastern Canada, extending business right across Canada.

Emphasis on fall protection
On-the-job safety became more of a personal issue for Randy in 2000, when his youngest son Nick was severely injured, as a summer student, when he fell 26 feet at a construction site. The accident was a catalyst for the increased focus of Hazmasters on the fall protection safety issue, bringing a focus on educating employers and workers on the benefits of using proper fall protection systems, and bringing training as an important component to our business.

We balance technology with personal knowledge and experience. “People who work here enjoy what they are doing…they enjoy working with and assisting people with their safety related requirements and questions. Management can provide the facility, the structure, and organization, but it is worthless unless you have the people who have the passion, the knowledge, and care about safety. “We have a very strong, dynamic team willing to do the extras for our customers,” says Randy.

In the future our management team will focus on more ways to empower our greatest asset — our people — to be able to reach their maximum potential. In so doing we will in turn build the strongest distribution safety specialist team.

Thinking & acting as a team
It is important at all levels of our organization, from the delivery person to management personnel, to think and act as a team. Everyone is shown how their everyday decisions impact the organization and their own future. Empowering people is not an easy task, and not everyone wants to make decisions, or be responsible for those decisions!

Selecting the right people is key in this process. Once we find them we must then communicate a clear understanding of our goals, our purpose, and their role as a team member. We are always looking to provide training, skills, opportunities and education for the purpose of building the confidence that allows our team to choose the right solutions to build our business.

An empowered team balanced with the right assets such as top-notch suppliers, products and services, has been the winning formula in building Hazmasters’ success. The safety distributor specialist provides value to customers who are in need of safety solutions for their workplace.

We believe this formula will become even more important in the future as the workforce changes. Baby boomers retire, smaller families are the norm and, even with immigration, we as a society cannot fill skilled job vacancies. Lost-time for a worker due to a job safety issue will become even more critical to employers and their overall success, as well as to the health of our economy.

When we learned about the Safety Equipment Distributors Association (SEDA), an association specifically for safety-focused distributors, we were eager to participate. Our industry has changed a lot in the past ten years. We have seen the addition of safety equipment to the product offerings of industrial, automotive and electrical distributors. We believe in the value of the safety industry and the safety distributor, so we jumped at the chance to network with other safety distributor specialists — businesses dedicated to spending dollars to training their own safety specialist employees, and to promote the value of the safety distributor.

Maintaining motivation
SEDA’s annual Safety Leadership Forum is a great opportunity to network with other safety specialists, as well as to mingle and strategize with supplier partners, and hear some dynamic and informative speakers. We have also participated in the education programs offered by SEDA, in particular the University of Industrial Distribution. Our managers and salespeople have been motivated and stimulated by the high quality of professional speakers, and again, the networking with other distributors and safety professionals is extremely valuable. In only three years, we have had very positive results from our association with SEDA — established new supplier partnerships, strengthened existing ones, gained insight into the changing issues in our industry, made some lasting friendships, and utilized many SEDA resources.

The philosophy that has served us will continue to attract and develop a highly skilled safety team, to best serve our industry.