You are on page 1of 3

COVER STORY

Demonstrating a remarkable transformation over the past couple of decades, the safety industry is now a multibillion dollar per year business with a dominant presence in all facets of heavy industry. And although it too shares in the economic challenges ahead, an investment in safety remains absolutely paramount to the end user. In few other circumstances is an investment guaranteed to return such significant results. Total Safety President and CEO David Fanta sat down for a one-on-one conversation to share his expertise and insight on the issues and the trends facing the industry this year, next year and into the future. Q: To get started with some background information, talk about the core competencies of Total Safety. A: Total Safety provides strategic safety solutions and services to energy and industrial clients working in hazardous environments around the globe. Our goal is to make sure everyone goes home safe at the end of the day. From refineries and petrochemical plants to heavy industrial locations and oil rigs, Total Safety is there keeping workers and the facilities they work in safe. We are not only experts in safety but we are also logistics experts we get what you need, where you need it, when you need it. We work very hard to be responsive to our clients and be everywhere they need us. Q: In the past several years Total Safety has acquired 13 companies. You now have 66 locations in 10 countries. What trend does this show? A: There has certainly been a lot of activity in the past few years, especially with the acquisitions of WSI, which gave us a dominant presence on the U.S. Gulf Coast, Payne Services, which gave us entry into specialized safety personnel services and BEH, through which we entered the U.K. market. The IMS and Callaway Safety acquisitions gave us a greater presence in key natural gas markets in the U. S. Rockies and the Permian Basin. The recent acquisition of Wholesale Radio furthered our ability to provide intewww.bicmagazine.com

ties in the region that could be open for expansion. Our primary focus today is expanding our client base and broadening our offering in the Middle East. We are open to exploring different avenues to further penetrate this market whether it is through partnerships, joint ventures, greenfields or acquisitions. Q: You are a very customer-centric organization. How do you inspire your employees to live that philosophy? A: We try to drive home a customer-centric philosophy at Total Safety through training, leadership and constantly putting the client first in our conversations and strategic planning. Last year we launched our internal ONE program designed to increase awareness in our company of providing excellent client service. ONE is an acronym for Opportunity Never Ends and we use it to engage in discussions directed toward the things we can do internally to improve our clients experience with Total Safety. Total Safety also regularly surveys our clients for feedback. Each and every team member is 100-percent committed to being very responsive to the clients comments to make sure their needs and expectations are being met. Q: Talk about some changes in the works to expand your current products and services. A: Our safety experts are constantly searching for innovative new solutions to add to our selection of services to improve compliance for our clients. We truly believe in our integrated approach to the safety services business. Total Safety has a unique way of seamlessly delivering the suite of services to the client without falling into the proverbial one stop shop mentality, where expertise and quality can get diluted in the process. With that being said, Total Safety is always looking for ways to improve our processes and to employ technological innovations in how we deliver our services. We are committed to staying current on advancements in equipment capabilities and striving to be the first to market with the latest innovations. And this all stems from our strategic goal of our W3 mis-

sion statement to ensure the safe Wellbeing of Workers Worldwide. Q: W3 to ensure the safe Wellbeing of Workers Worldwide is an interesting slogan; can you elaborate on it? A: We are located and work in countries all over the world and consequently have many subcultures that together make up the culture of Total Safety. Because of our varied global influences, we felt it was extremely important to articulate our mission in a direct but strong statement that would resonate with our team around the globe. It had to be simple yet meaningful and capable of moving people to execute it with passion. Its pretty easy to get out of bed each morning and go to work with excitement when you know your efforts are protecting someones safe wellbeing around the world. W3 really represents what Total Safety is all about. Everything we do is centered on ensuring the safety of people working in hazardous environments worldwide. Q: What makes you different from your competition? A: My answer is a bit clich because everyone uses it, but I really do believe our difference comes from the employees who make up the Total Safety team and the way they all so passionately embrace W3. It creates a common platform for all of us to collaborate and coordinate our efforts to help our clients attain their specific safety and compliance goals and to protect their employees. We also invest a lot of time and money in training and systems. Total Safety has some of the best employee benefit packages in our industry and we nurture a culture of teamwork and respect. I think the other key area of differentiation is our global footprint that allows us to seamlessly serve our worldwide customers with our integrated service delivery model. Q: What is the one thing that most people dont know about Total Safety? A: The one thing that people are surprised
(Continued on next page)

David E. Fanta, Total Safety president and CEO.

grated communication systems into our safety service offerings. We continue to look for other companies that will be strategic fits to provide access to new geographic whitespace and end markets, or bring other compliance related services and products. I think this trend demonstrates our commitment to doing what it takes to fulfill our mission of ensuring the safe Wellbeing of Workers Worldwide (W3), wherever our clients need us, with a fully integrated suite of services. Q: You mention geographic whitespace. What new locations are you focusing on? A: We are keenly focused on following our clients into any region of the world where they need our services. There are still a number of areas in the United States that we would like to expand into and ultimately we expect to be in the Canadian upstream and downstream markets. Other parts of the world that remain strategic to our growth plans are South America, Europe, South and West Africa, and South and Central Asia. Q: What about more locations in the Middle East? A: Total Safety has an excellent footprint there now and we believe there are other opportuni-

April 2009

11

(Continued from previous page)

to learn about Total Safety is our broad geographic reach. We have 66 facilities in 10 countries and have in excess of 1,500 employees. On any given day we could be providing safety equipment or services in 20 different countries. Q: Theres been a lot of news surrounding the rough economic times. How has the downturn affected your business? A: Our clients are experiencing a severe reduction in demand for their products. The global meltdown of the credit markets and ensuing recessionary pressures has touched all of our end markets. The products our clients manufacture are used broadly and globally, from plastics and steel to all forms of energy. These products are integral to the housing, consumer goods, transportation and automotive industries and we all are painfully aware of how hard these industries have been hit. Our clients hold safety as a core value and continue to invest in safety systems and products. But, obviously if theres less capital expansion, fewer turnarounds, less rigs operating and fewer production units running, then were going to be impacted at some point. However, during slower times such as these, many of our clients are looking to take steps to improve their processes and possibly even outsource more. Total Safety has proven that it can improve compliance while at the same time lower the total cost of compliance. I think in every period of economic difficulty there is opportunity and we intend to aggressively seek and execute on those opportunities. Q: Whats the mood in your corporation? A: The mood in our company is still one of overall excitement about where Total Safety is going, the growth weve had and the new products and services were planning to launch. Also we are just now embarking on qualifying the U.S. operations in OSHAs VPP, or Voluntary Protection Program. This is extremely exciting for all of us and will take our safety culture to the next level. Q: What is your strategy this year? How do you plan to weather the economic turbulence?

A: Our strategy for 2009 is to be very client focused. We are diligently working to partner with our clients to maintain safety and compliance as we look for more efficient and cost-effective ways to do so. We will continue to focus on expanding our integrated offering and to look for strategic acquisitions that further our business plan. We are also very focused on improving our internal processes and systems. Challenging economic times force us all to review the way we do business and we want to eliminate the inefficient things we do that dont add value to our final product. We fully expect to exit this recession a much smarter and more successful company with increased market share. Q: Can you share some of your goals and visions for the company in the next few quarters? A: Total Safetys goals for the next few quarters are to continue to deliver our integrated services, keep adding to the suite of services that we provide and to focus on driving the cost down for our clients. Its a very difficult time for them, so theyre looking for companies that can come in, understand their business and take costs out without sacrificing safety and compliance. We think our In-Plant Service Center model is the perfect platform for that. Q: What is an In-Plant Service Center? A: Basically, an In-Plant Service Center is exactly what the name implies a safety service center located within a customers facility. By providing safety products and services from an on-site location and manning it with trained technicians, our clients not only improve their compliance and reduce incidents but they can also expect to lower their overall costs. Q: The role of safety must have changed substantially in the past couple of years. Explain the changes youve seen. A: Safety has absolutely changed quite a lot in the past five years. Companies are becoming more and more aware of risks and hazards and are making significant investments to prevent worker and facility safety related incidents. From a financial perspective, they are also recognizing that safety pays in the form of a healthy return on investment. Government regulators are stepping up their enforcement efforts and regulatory bodies are promulgating even stricter new laws. Exposure threshold limits for various hazards are being set at lower levels, thus requiring better detection devices and protection systems. I also think companies are becoming increasingly focused on being good corporate citizens. They understand the value of protecting their employees, the environment and being proactive participants in the communities where they operate. Q: Youve been at the helm of Total Safety for more than five years now. How do you see the role of safety changing in the next five years? Ten years? A: I think in the next five to 10 years we will see safety remain a key focus for industry. It is excit-

ing to see the way technology is advancing safety. We are already seeing significant improvements in personnel monitoring systems and I believe we will see widespread use of biometrics in our safety management systems of

Total Safety provides custom and specialized training programs for a wide range of specific safety needs.

Total Safetys patented High Pressure Breathing Air Loop System makes critical turnaround projects safer, more efficient and less costly.

ated with delivering readily accessible energy where and when it is needed. I wish everyone could see the advanced technology and the costs associated with this technology that go into finding, drilling and processing oil and natural gas. If they could, I think they would be more understanding of the price they do pay for the freedom energy affords. Q: The political landscape of the country has changed drastically. How do you see that changing the oil and gas industry? A: I think it is too early to tell how the new administration will interact with our industry. I think it is best to take a wait and see approach. As the administration becomes more aware of the great things our industry provides this country, I believe they will soften their stance and work in a collaborative manner to solve the energy problems we all face today. The most critical thing that must happen is for some responsible constructive dialogue among our industry, our political leaders and our environmental groups. What people dont realize is how much this industry has invested so much around environmental safeguards and safety technologies. Q: Do you think the Obama Administration will drastically change the way you do business? A: In the short term, I dont think so. I think this administration will realize it must work with industry to develop a sound plan for dealing with the challenge of creating a sustainable energy policy. I believe worker safety and environmental protection will remain at the forefront and eventually well see stricter legislation to reinforce these areas. The market will continue to demand advancement in technologies that will play a major role in enhancing worker safety and allowing for industry to work in harmony with the environment. My hope is the administration, Congress and industry will realize the time for rhetoric has ended and constructive dialogue leading to consistent policies is required to maintain our position of leadership on the world stage. For more information on Total Safety, please call (888) 44-TOTAL [448-6825], e-mail mail@totalsafety.com or log on to www.TotalSafety.com.

the future. Well also continue to see more integrated approaches to safety devices such as a single device ultimately taking the place of three or four pieces of equipment. Q: The energy sector is expanding to include more renewable resources. How will that translate in the safety business? A: For Total Safety, understanding what the alternative energy market is going to look like is the first step. This is another area where investment in technology will make this a very dynamic and evolving sector. We are taking the time to stay abreast of the latest developments and tuned in to the developing opportunities relating to worker and facility safety. We do realize Total Safety has to be flexible and prepared to adapt our model to the energy sources of the future. Q: What is the biggest issue facing the energy industry today? A: The biggest challenge facing the energy industry today is the need for a logical and consistent energy policy that is comprehensive enough to address the needs of all affected parties and that provides responsible environmental stewardship. Eight months ago Congress was taking oil executives to task for failing to build new refineries because gasoline prices had jumped along with crude prices due to forces somewhat disconnected from supply and demand. Now that oil prices have collapsed along with the global economy and energy company profits have evaporated, no one is alleging that oil companies set market prices and that we need to build more refineries. In fact, refinery utilization is at its lowest level in quite some time because demand has markedly decreased and prices have fallen to levels too low to support the cost of operating gasoline-producing units. Our industry must do a better job of educating the public on the costs and risk associ-

Exclusive In-Plant Services Centers allow Total Safety to be on site at the clients location 24/7 with full-time, trained technicians providing integrated safety services.

12

April 2009

www.bicmagazine.com

Please visit us at OSHA Region VI VPPPA Conference, booth no. 431

www.bicmagazine.com

April 2009

13