George J. Hayward, 67, an icon in the tight-knit U.S. safety products industry, passed away on May 1, 2009, after a brief illness. George’s stature and influence extended far beyond the eight states served by the safety products manufacturers representatives of his company, United Sales Associates, founded by George in 1982 and based in Cincinnati.

Beginning in March, 1997, George wrote a regular column (67 in total) forISHN’s “For Distributors Only” supplement, prodding the safety products industry to see and seize the positive contributions it could deliver by being a holistic, integrated partnership of manufacturers, distributors, manufacturers’ reps, workplace safety and health professionals, regulators, and professional and trade associations.

George had other “pet passions”: to think globally, to think beyond compliance selling, to make the business case for safety, and to think of new ways of servicing and educating safety and health professionals who purchase his industry’s products.

In his first column forISHN, George wrote: “In safety the heroes arenot the doctors who repair those who have been injured but those whopreventthe injuries in the first place! Those "Partners in Prevention" that Rick (Fulwiler) speaks to, those industrial hygienists, safety engineers,and the safety sales professionals - these are the heroes who prevent injuries and are truly the "Partners in Prevention." Here's to you all! - the real heroes!”

In 1996, George was appointed to serve on the SEDA (Safety Equipment Distributors Association.), ISEA (International Safety Equipment Association.) and SEMAA Joint Committee on Education, a coalition responsible for creating and marketing the “Qualified Safety Sales Professional” (QSSP) program.

QSSP is a week-long safety and health technical and regulatory fundamentals course, held twice each year, for sales and marketing professionals involved in the manufacture and distribution of safety equipment. The QSSP faculty, headed until his recent retirement as course director, by Dr. Rick Fulwiler, former director of Procter & Gamble Worldwide Safety and Health, has taught more than 700 graduates, increasing their knowledge base and raising their service capabilities to the benefit of thousands of worksite safety and health pros. QSSP classes have grown steadily in popularity, now selling out regularly.

Thousands of safety and health professionals in the U.S. have benefited from George’s work and passion for safety without ever knowing who he was. George was a power-broker; a thought-provoking, humorous, extremely well-connected large man, almost larger-than-life to those who knew him. For most safety and health professionals, George’s work and contributions occurred behind the scenes, without their direct knowledge.

More than an entrepreneur, George was one of the most visible and active leaders of the safety products community of manufacturers, distributors, purchasers and users; a tireless networker and alliance builder; a committed educator; a proponent of harmonized global safety and health regulations and closer working relationships between global safety and health associations; and a staunch advocate for protecting workers on the job.

At trade shows such as the National Safety Congress, the American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Expo, and the American Society of Safety Engineers’ annual conference, George strolled the aisle joking, back-slapping, and conversing with his many friends as a sort of unofficial mayor of the expo floor. George was also a regular presence at industry meetings sponsored by the International Safety Equipment Association, the Safety Equipment Distributors Association, and the International Glove Association.

George’s career in safety began in 1972 as a territory manager for Edmont-Wilson glove company, now Ansell Protective Products.

In 1986, George was one of the founders and charter members of the Safety Equipment Manufacturers’ Agents Association (SEMAA), and served as its executive director and first president.

In 1988, George was elected chairman of the National Industrial Glove Distributors Association (NIGDA) and served on its Hall of Fame Committee for 11 years. He was the first “rep” to be elected to the NIGDA Board, serving 8 years.

In 1999, George was appointed MANA (Manufacturers’ Agents National Association) Manager of International Development to help guide MANA’s transition to a more global organization. MANA has a membership of approximately 4,000 rep agencies and 1,500 manufacturers in more than 25 countries.

In 2001 George became the first non-European to be elected to the Board of IUCAB (International Union of Commercial Agents and Brokers). He served three terms ending in 2008.

In 2005 he was elected to the MANA Board of Directors. In 2007, George was elected to serve on the MANA Board of Directors, Executive Committee. In 2008, he was also elected chairman of the MANA Board of Directors, Executive Committee.

Founded by George in 1982, United Sales Associates, through its 13 field and inside sales reps, represents familiar product manufacturers such as Capital Safety fall protection, Haws emergency eyewash showers and fountains, Jackson Safety PPE, Lakeland Industries protective clothing, MAPA Professional gloves, Wells Lamont Industry Group gloves, and Justrite flammable storage containers.

As manufacturers’ representatives, United Sales Associates operates as an independent sales and marketing contractor for the product lines of its principals (manufacturers), selling to distributors of safety products and making joint presentations with distributors to end-users of products (often worksite safety and health professionals).

George is survived by his wife Ramona “Mo” Hayward (Steger), and his two sons Todd A. Hayward and Thomas J. Hayward, both employed at United Sales Associates.