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35 years of safety

image Safety Supply team members pose for a photo with the Safety Supply mobile training unit.

SAN ANTONIO - In 1983, husband and wife team Joan and E.W. Stafford started Safety Supply in Victoria, TX. A few short years later, the duo moved their operation to San Antonio where it has been operating from for a little over 30 years.






    Five years ago, when they were ready to retire, they sold their beloved company. But before they would do that, they wanted to ensure it would remain a family business.
    At about that time, Garret Wacaser and his family were looking to move back from Mexico. “I worked in the automotive industry for 15 years making car parts in Mexico. My exit out of Mexico was my entrance into being an entrepreneur and what was important to us when we decided to buy a company was a family business. We did not want a franchise. We wanted to be able to make it our own and something in Central Texas. We were as much being interviewed to be the owners as we were deciding to buy,” reveals Wacaser, president and co-owner.
    You have to wonder – why safety when coming from the automotive world? Was it opportunity? And, why safety? Opportunity played a small role in their decision, but mostly it was an ever-changing industry. “It was a lot to do with an industry that is only going to grow. We have the least amount of regulations today in safety as we are ever going to have. It affects every industry base. It’s in manufacturing, government work, public safety, construction, transportation – if it has people involved with it, then we are involved in the industry. We really like the diversity of its customer base. It’ not economy proof, but it is a lot less dependent upon on a certain niche than anything else, and that was the thing that attracted us the most. That and the fact that Safety Supply had been there 30 years before we got there.”
    The company has evolved since Wacaser and his father took over the business. After acquiring Safety Supply, they purchased a glove company, Southwest Glove & Safety in Fort Worth. “San Antonio is our home base. We have an office in Fort Worth, a stocking location in West Texas and we also operate a location on the board in Eagle Pass and the Mexico sister city in Piedras Negras, Mexico.
    “We evolved. We tried to take it from just being an equipment or PPE company and partner with safety conscious companies assisting their efforts in keeping their people safe. We don’t want to just sell to you and be your glove person, your glove supplier. We want to work with you, to train your people, help you identify your risks and make sure you’re using the right equipment.”
    Celebrating 35 years in business, Safety Supply treated their customers to an afternoon of fun at Bushwood BBQ on Aug. 29 with a chance at a hole-in-one to win $10,000. Customers and guests were given the opportunity to learn more about their mobile training unit. The mobile training unit is a state-of-the-art classroom on wheels in which individuals are taught, hands-on training built around the entire OSHA and PEC certified curriculum. It’s focused around competency for working heights or fall protection from how to climb ladder systems and vertical descent to rescuing someone. In addition, the mobile training unit is geared for hands-on confined space training from gas detection and monitoring, proper respiratory apparatus use, vertical and horizontal confine space entry and rescue to cascade air systems, breathing tanks with hoses. “We should be able to help employers identify – am I sending this guy to a job that he can actually do and do it safely.
    “We were not safety experts when we came in, but it really has been a lot more fun than I had ever expected would be.”
    Safety Supply is a safety supplier and service provider based in San Antonio. -cmw

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Carol Wiatrek meditor@constructionnews.net