All year long we’re celebrating the moments that got us to this great spot: 35 years of Making the Workplace a Betterplace™. It’s a tribute to our history and the big part you’ve played in it. So join us every month for a new tale, a quirky giveaway, and a fresh playlist of tasty tunes … ‘cuz there ain’t no party like an Ergodyne party, and this one’s gonna go down in the books, kids.
“When the grandkids ask us what we did during the big GED (global economic downturn) let’s tell them we charged out of the foxhole and kicked out the jams with a new sense of purpose and some great stuff.”
- Intro to 2011 Ergodyne Workbook
Welcome! If you’re just joining us, here’s a quick recap of all the ups and downs in Ergodyne’s first 25 years: Up, down, waaay up, then down again, then up a little. And boom. Here we are: 2008. America elects its first African-American president. The Jonas Brothers are Kings of the Universe. And Wall Street is busy subprime-binging its way to a massive near fatal infarction.
Also of note: Ergodyne moves in to a new spot, a former railroad maintenance facility now on the National Register of Historic Places. A place where hard working ghosts mingle with brick and timber to create an energy that proves to be perfectly tenacious.
“We moved into this building from right across the street,” recalls Jackie Proffer, Ergodyne’s purchasing and production planning manager. “We literally loaded our cars up with our computers and boxes of stuff and moved on in.”
It’s been the site of Ergodyne’s Intergalactic Headquarters ever since.
In her 24 years with Ergodyne, Proffer has seen her share of change, not the least of which is the expansion of the company’s work gear line.
“When I first started, we had like 5 models of gloves, 3 back supports and 3 knee pads… maybe 300 SKUs,” said Proffer. “We now have about 2300 product SKUs.”
Ergodyne’s back support scuffle with the feds in the early 90s inspired a new course of action. A strategy fueled by a constant flow of innovation and product offerings. At the center of it all was the Tenacious Work Gear® concept, built around three pillars (Prevention, Protection, Elements) and one mission: Make the Workplace a Betterplace™.
“There was a five-year period there where we grew like crazy,” remembers Senior Vice President of Sales Mark Lindstrom, who joined Ergodyne shortly after Proffer. “Going to the three pillars concept was revolutionary and helped us clarify our spot in the marketplace with all these new products.”
Ergodyne was hitting the industrial safety market hard, and Lindstrom was tasked with putting pedal to the metal on distributorship for all this great new gear, including SHAX® Portable Work Shelters, Skullerz® Head Protection and Core® Performance Work wear – all launched during this time and right on the heels of the newer Squids®, N-Ferno®, Arsenal®, and GloWear® Hi-Vis lines.
“We got into the hi-vis business and that was really the start of Ergodyne as we know it today. We really changed, I mean fundamentally changed, what was a very frumpy category dominated by antiquated players.”
That’s not to say there weren’t hiccups.
“Not everything we put out there caught on, but that’s OK,” said Proffer. “But you put out five new items and three of them catch on, you’re still doing well. Through it all, I’ve always put complete faith in the vision of Tom Votel (President and CEO).”
And of course there was The Great Recession aka The Global Economic Meltdown aka The Bust That Bear Stearns and Lehman Built.
“It hit us, of course, as it did everybody,” said Lindstrom. “But we emerged from it in much better shape than many. And from there we kept selling, building, and meeting challenges as they came. Before we even started using the word tenacious around here, before it became officially part of the brand, that’s exactly how I would have described us. And it’s why I’m not surprised in the least at how far we’ve come, and why expect more in the future.”
UP NEXT: DIGITAL EVOLUTION
PREVIOUSLY: FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT // 1994-2001