We are intensely committed to the safety community and generating disproportionately positive results for workers, safety pros and sellers of our stuff. A passionate, fully committed and growing army of global representative and authorized distributors are poised and ready to serve the millions of workers all over the world who put our gear on every day and brainwashing those who don’t… yet. We accomplish this through a unique combination of listening, educating, focus and the pursuit of excellence.
INNNOVATION AND EXCELLENCE
Since the day we planted our flag and set up shop, we’ve been awarded hundreds of global patents and trademarks—with plenty more on the horizon. Along the way, we’ve been recognized with multiple growth awards and several international innovation and design honors.
We are a workforce of tenaciously dedicated pros utterly obsessed with delivering safety excellence and abiding by our company ethos. We work with passion and purpose, but also make time for fun. We never rest on our laurels because we know you’re only as good as your last product—though ours was probably legendary.
Headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota (the center of the universe), our offices are located in the historic Bandana Square. Our space is pretty dang cool, including its brand-inspired floor plan, larger-than-life wall graphics and pulse-pumping playlists. It’s a stimulating creative space where innovation is not just encouraged—it’s required.
THE DOCTOR IS INMJ moonwalks all over the charts. M*A*S*H becomes the most watched television program ever. And $3,000 buys you a mobile phone the size of a damn cinder block. Meanwhile, at a hospital in downtown St. Paul, MN, Dr. Thomas W. Votel sparks an industrial safety revolution with a back support aimed at reducing the number one on-the-job injury.
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THE WHIZ KID TAKES THE REINSWith business at virtually zero, Dr. Votel says "what the hell" and hands the operation over to his son, recent college grad Tom Votel. The young buck promptly changes the company name to Ergodyne and sets out to make good on his dad's mission of reducing on-the-job injuries. First stop? Yellow Pages: Safety Equipment & Clothing. Godspeed, Sweet Prince. Godspeed.
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HOUSE PARTYOfficing out of a funky little love shack on St. Paul's, Grand Avenue, Votel begins to secure distributorship for Ergodyne's pioneering back support. A few key players in the industry get hooked on a feeling. Soon, it's a full-blown party. Ergodyne takes off. By 1991, the kid has taken the old man's side gig and turned it into one of INC.'s Top 500 Fastest Growing Small Companies in the U.S.
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PARTY CRASHERSThe Man steps in to bust up the fun, just as things get lit (typical). And hey, look what they brought with them: a whitepaper questioning and discrediting the effectiveness of the back support in preventing injury! Thanks, NIOSH. A six-pack and some Doritos would have been just fine.
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FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTWith Uncle Sam in full-on back support buzzkill mode, Ergodyne goes underground, assembling a crack commando unit of industry soldiers to fight the powers that be. Ever watch A-Team? Yeah, basically that, minus the sweet van. A national ad campaign follows. The feds eventually back down (we do love it when a plan comes together). Ergodyne broadens its product line to protect more workers, introducing the Chill-Its® brand, developing a patient transfer device and more.
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DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACKWith spines stiffened (ha - get it? No? Too soon?) from the unfounded attack on back supports by federal regulators, Ergodyne gets Tenacious, introducing the Tenacious Work Gear® concept and an aggressive new strategy built on three pillars: managing the elements, improving productivity and providing protection.
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INNOVATION OVERDRIVEAdding SHAX® Portable Work Shelters, Skullerz® Head Protection and CORE® Performance Work Wear to the product mix (with plenty more on the horizon), Ergodyne goes into innovation overdrive, ready to take industrial safety by storm. Hold on to your butts. Here. We. Go.
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DIGITAL EVOLUTIONThis internet thing doesn’t look like it’s going away. Time to tune up our ones and zeros. Go mobile. Practice our selfies. A new website becomes the hub of everything Ergo. Social channels open up engagement with the Tenacious Nation. Product feedback in a flash. All the better to keep our mission honest and on course.
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WORKDAY 2 WEEKENDEverybody's working for the weekend? Hmm. Seems like everybody's working on the weekend, too. Around the yard. In the garage. Even backpacking into camp – that ain't no walk in the park. Well, technically, it's a park but… you get it. And so does Ergodyne: the need for thoughtfully designed, exhaustively field-tested gear doesn't quit when you slide down that brontosaurus tail at 5:00 PM.
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BACK TO THE FUTURESo where do the next 35 years take us? If we had a DeLorean to take us there we'd tell you. And wouldn't that be fun? But sadly we don't. Yet. Though we can tell you where we think it's taking us, and that gets us all tingly inside. It's a future where safety gear is connected in a way that will predict and prevent workplace mishaps before they happen. It's a brave new world, and we're excited to lead the way.
I became president and CEO of Minnesota-based Ergodyne in 1985—just two years after becoming the company’s first full-time employee. This sounds like a big hoop-dee-doo. It was not. We were out of dough and everyone else had jumped ship. Well, all righty then!
A native Minnesotan, I grew up about 45 miles west of Minneapolis in Waconia (when it was just a small town with a population around 2,000.) I am the middle of three girls—always striving to out-perform my overachieving older sister and seeking some of the attention my younger baby sister received. This combination made me a fierce competitor, but also a negotiator and peacemaker.
Originally from Massachusetts, I literally fought my way through a family of five brothers (explains this annoying little facial twitch). Graduated from Boston University and began my "working" life as a physical therapist and then a variety of safety sales positions before embarking on my journey from darkness to light (light being the start of my career at Ergodyne in 1998, of course).
Born and raised in the Badger state, which helps explain my childhood ambition, I grew up playing every sport imaginable from sunup ‘til sundown. Was forced into child labor by my parents who owned a landscape business and flower shop. Those early work experiences with my mom and dad taught me the value of hard work and that is something that has stuck with me, and driven me, throughout my career.
Growing up on the east side of town, I started life out as a St. Joe's Jet, made my way to become a Visitation Blazer, Tar Heel and then rounded things out as a Tommie with a BA in Communication. I've dabbled outside of this frigid state to awesome places like North Carolina, New York and Rome—but it never stuck (cuz there's no place like home…
In Alsie's role as Product Manager, she focuses on development of products that combat temperature stress—including Chill-Its® cooling gear, N-Ferno® warming gear, Trex™ ice traction, SHAX® portable work shelters and KREW’D™ skin protection. Alsie’s dedication to mitigating the risk of temperature stress on the job has helped propel Ergodyne into one of the most respected thought leaders in the category.
Chris joined Ergodyne’s Protection Pillar in 2018 as Product Manager for Skullerz® head and eye protection, ProFlex® supports and knee/hand protection and GloWear® hi-vis apparel.
A native of Omaha, NE, Chris graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Mechanical Engineering (but still has the Huskers in his heart).
Brent Velenchenko joined Ergodyne in 2014 as Product Specialist for the Prevention Pillar. Brent is always searching for ways to improve worker organization solutions and minimize at-height risks, bringing three years of product development experience to the Squids® Tool Lanyard line and Arsenal® Tool Storage collection.
An Ergodyte since 2014, Allie Thunstrom is the Orange Planet’s Field Product Specialist. Allie works closely with end users to identify solutions that meet their unique needs. Her focus is primarily Objects at Heights but, as Ergodyne’s resident field expert, she is well versed in all of the company’s safety categories. Prior to her role as a Field Product Specialist, Allie was focused on temperature stress as Product Specialist for the Elements Pillar.
Aaron Skemp joined Ergodyne’s Protection Pillar in 2017, where he works to develop the Skullerz® line of head and eye protection, ProFlex® supports and knee/head protection and GloWear® hi-vis apparel.
A native of La Crescent, MN, Aaron attended the University of St. Thomas and enjoys hunting, golfing and all things sports.
Jess Ellis joined the Ergodyne team in 2019 as Product Specialist for the Elements Pillar, focusing on the development of temperature stress-combating products—including Chill-Its® cooling gear, N-Ferno® warming gear, Trex™ ice traction, SHAX® portable work shelters and KREW’D™ skin protection. She brings two years of product management experience to the team from her previous role at a towing and truck accessories company in Eau Claire, WI.