Ray Torres, President and CEO – Checkers Safety Group
Turning our attention towards Manufacturing, Finance Monthly spoke to Ray Torres – President and CEO at Checkers Industrial Safety Products, who sheds some light on the company’s work, the challenges that it typically faces and the achievements that he is most proud of.
Can you tell FM a little about the services you provide and the kind of clients you deal with?
Checkers Safety Group designs, manufactures and sells, primarily through Distribution, safety products focused on protecting People, Assets and Environment.
Our customers are typically distributors who service industrial and commercial end-users in various markets, including oil & gas, mining, manufacturing, construction, infrastructure projects, utilities, energy, aviation, military, food service, janitorial and sanitation.
How do you tailor your services to the needs of each individual client?
One of our core competencies is “We Listen” – we listen to the market, our customers and the end-users to better understand the particular safety issues that need to be addressed and then design products to solve those issues and needs. We are the experts and thought leader in our niche safety products categories and our customers look to us to provide innovative and revolutionary products solutions.
Are there at times particular challenges involved in delivering services? Do you have any examples?
There are always challenges in every business, but our challenges are typically associated with new product introductions, which we put through extensive independent third-party testing. This often means a longer lead time to market but ensures our products meet the performance standards required by our customers and the industry. In addition, oftentimes we have competitors attempt to copy our products, without the requisite quality and performance standards, so we spend a fair amount of time defending our intellectual property and differentiating our products from copycats who try to grab market share, trying to piggyback on our product quality innovation, with price and inferior products.
How would you describe the evolution of the US health & safety manufacturing industry over the last decade?
Safety is clearly becoming more important across the board in every industry and we are seeing more governing bodies and regulatory agencies issuing safety standards and performing health and safety audits. Everyone is more conscious of health and safety and are demanding a safe work environment. Risk assessment and mitigation is more prevalent and companies are now better understanding the cost of an unsafe work environment.
How significantly would you say this has affected US legislation, businesses, and risk prevention within particular industries such as construction and transport?
This has pushed safety to the forefront and businesses are trying to get ahead of the issue, by preventing accidents and installing safety procedures and products to protect workers, assets and the environment, which is an integral part of our mission.
Given the quality of products you provide, how would you say this compares to safety groups from elsewhere around the globe?
Our products are sold globally into more than 70 countries and are considered the market leader in our niche product categories. We tend to have a leading market position in the markets we serve and our products tend to be the best value, combining quality, durability, reliability and price to be extremely competitive.
In providing safety products or services, what are the key compliance considerations you have to make?
First, we have to understand the conditions under which the products will be used to design the product properly to meet the harshest conditions. For example, many of our products are used in extremely cold and extremely hot environments, with temperatures ranging from as low as -40 degrees to as high as 140 degrees, so our products have to be sufficiently robust to meet the extreme differences. Second, we have to ensure our products meet regulatory requirements, not just from a performance perspective but also with the raw materials we use. Third, our products need to be durable enough to last multiple years or multiple usage and still perform under the harshest condition.
Are there any complexities involved in the regulations of safety equipment you develop?
There is no one overall governing body that applies to all of our products; some are under the auspices of OSHA, while others are governed by MHSA, for example. Therefore, we need to understand the various regulations and design products that might have to comply with multiple agencies and regulations.
In terms of market competition, where does the company stand globally and what are its goals moving forward?
We are viewed as market leaders and we typically enjoy a leading position in our product categories and end-markets. Our goal is to be the thought leader and expert in our product categories and end-markets. We focus on offering differentiated products, with some level of intellectual property. We want to continue to expand our safety product offerings, adding logical adjacent new product categories to complement our existing product categories.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
We are active in the acquisition front, looking to acquire companies that have a similar mindset of offering top quality, niche products, with a leading brand and market position. Our passion is around protecting people, assets and the environment and are interested in adding products that fit that criteria. We focus on family owned businesses, where the owners are looking to transition the business and want a safe haven and friendly acquirer to maintain the legacy they have created. We have a proven history of helping businesses grow when they become part of the Checkers family.
“We tend to have a leading market position in the markets we serve and our products tend to be the best value, combining quality, durability, reliability and price to be extremely competitive.”
In 1987 Checkers Safety Group began with a simple vision: to be a dynamic and growing organization dedicated to saving lives and protecting assets by delivering innovative safety products. That vision still drives Checkers today. With the company’s product offerings of House and Cable Protection Systems, Wheel Chocks, Warning Whips and more, Checkers has created a unique solution for each or their customers’ unique problems.
Checkers Safety Group is headquartered in Broomfield, Colorado, U.S.A. with another manufacturing and support facility located in Mesa, Arizona. Each of the company’s products is produced in the United States. Serving a diverse number of customers and markets worldwide for over 25 years has provided Checkers with the knowledge and insight to ensure every one of their customers’ needs is satisfied. Through the company’s continued growth and innovation, Checkers is poised and positioned to continue to serve as a leading global provider of industrial safety products.