Checkers Safety Group – Ray Torres’ insight on manufacturing
Turning our attention towards manufacturing, Finance Monthly reached out to Ray Torres – the President & CEO of Checkers Safety Group, a manufacturing business headquartered in Broomfield, Colorado, dedicated to protecting people, assets and environment by providing revolutionary product designs and visionary safety solutions.
How would you currently describe the US’ manufacturing landscape, and what about in the safety product segment?
The prognosis looks encouraging, we are seeing more products being “on-shored” and a focus on quality and reliability. Manufacturers that consistently perform are being rewarded with additional business opportunities from key customers. The importance of safety in the work environment is being elevated, which bodes well for safety product manufacturers.
What would you say clients look for as a priority in the products they look for, and how does Checkers safety meet those needs?
Our products are safety-oriented so they must perform their intended purpose at all times, without exception, meeting a high level of quality and durability. We are the only manufacturer of our specific niche products that has its products third-party tested and certified to perform as designed. After that, the next priority is availability, because when our customers need the products, they must have them now!
As a thought leader, how does Checkers intend to improve on those standards, and change the status-quo of this manufacturing segment?
We are always working on the next generation product, improving the performance while making them more user-friendly. For example, we have made our products lighter weight, while maintaining the strength and durability, so the workers can more easily manage the products – to avoid injuries and strains – while simultaneously improving their work environment and decreasing the environmental footprint on the manufacturing side. We use recycled materials, when we can, accounting for approximately 30% of our product sales.
How has the vision of the company changed over the years, adapting according to the markets and needs of clients?
We intentionally decided to expand our product offerings, by acquiring other manufacturing companies to offer a broader suite of products. Our focus is primarily to manufacture “ground-based” safety solutions, i.e., products that are typically on the ground and provide some element of safety for either people, assets (such as heavy duty vehicles and aircraft) and the environment. We have expanded our safety offerings to protect people, with our mats for professional use (Notrax®) and the environment, with our products for ground and Turf protection (TuffTrak® and Terraplas®). Our other two power brands, Monster® and Linebacker® provide safety solutions for assets and people, through our traffic safety, vehicle safety and cable management products.
As a thought leader and CEO of the firm, how do you believe you have had an impact on safety product manufacturing, and its market, in the US?
We are viewed as the category leader in our product niches, usually setting the standard with the next generation products. Our competitors often try to emulate our products, without the requisite testing, product knowledge and manufacturing expertise, which only reaffirms our position in the market place.
What precedents would you say you and the company have set in the industry, and how do you intend to raise the benchmark further?
We have the lightest weight products in wheel chocks, cable management systems and heavy duty mats that still provide the highest level of performance and durability. We continue to push the envelope with new technology, by incorporating LED and photoluminescence into new products. Our NoTrax® products are constantly evolving, to ensure the maximum comfort against fatigue and avoidance of slips and falls, while meeting the ever-changing needs of our customers.
Are there any regulations you would see changed to better the benefits of your products/services?
We believe the move away from barricade lights in construction zones is a mistake. While reflective tape and barrels might be suitable when weather conditions are fine, they do not perform as well during poor weather conditions and create unsafe conditions for the workers and drivers. The cost of one accident, both from a personal and financial perspective, does not justify the “cost savings” to move away from barricade lights. In addition, we believe all electrical cables and wires should be protected in work areas where people are present, which is not currently the case, and the protection should be standardized, i.e., covering the cables with duct tape or draping a carpet over them is not enough and is extremely unsafe for everyone.
Outside of business formalities, how does Checkers support communities and society through partnerships and non-profit projects?
We are passionate about being a responsible community leader and ensuring growth opportunities for our employees. We believe our social responsibility encompasses both the local and global community and model our social responsibility by partnering with non-profit organizations. In Colorado, we partner with A Precious Child, a non-profit that provides basic essential needs for disenfranchised and abused children or children living in poverty. Globally, we partner with Institute Univers, a K-13 school in Haiti, where we send mission teams for a week at a time to work on specific projects for the school, as well as provide clean water systems for the community around the school. These partnerships help the non-profits but simultaneously provide tremendous growth opportunities for our employees. Checkers provides the funding for these projects and allows its employees to volunteer without having to use PTO and vacation time.