Model Coverall Expands With Training Division

June 5, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — These days, customers can count on Model Coverall Service Inc. for more than just uniform rentals and sales.

The company branched out last year with a new division, Model First Aid, Safety & Training, that offers first aid supplies; safety supplies, such as protective apparel; and emergency response equipment, such as defibrillators, oxygen units and burn kits.

The division also offers safety counseling and training in more than 24 areas of safety and compliance, including CPR, hazardous materials, ergonomics, bloodborne pathogens, electrical safety, emergency evacuation, driver safety and respiratory protection.

Model Coverall Service has been supplying companies with uniforms, as well as towels, floor mats and mops, for 74 years.

It has 90 employees serving more than 3,000 customers in industry, government, retail, restaurants, schools and other organizations in an area bounded by Grand Rapids, Lansing and South Bend.

Vice President Jonathan Subar, who represents the third generation of family ownership in the firm, told the Business Journal that Model’s customer companies range in size from two to more than 1,000 employees.

The new division added almost 40 accounts in February and another 40 in March, said Michael Bradley, senior trainer and the division’s general manager. It currently serves more than 400 customers, a small percentage of whom also are Model uniform rental customers.

Subar said the company has been aggressive in growing the new side of the business and now that it has established a foothold in the market, sales reps are beginning to target the company’s established uniform rental customers for the new service offerings.

First aid is a good match for Model’s standard business and its customer base because most of Model’s existing customers have first aid, safety and training requirements, Subar observed.

“It’s been somewhat of an industry trend for the last few years, particularly among larger companies. We were the first small company in our market to follow their lead,” Subar said. “We’re able to do it with some of the advantages a small company can bring — more personal attention to customer needs and more one-on-one with reps.”

Bradley has more than 21 years of experience in the occupational safety/health field. He was a senior manager for one of the country’s largest first aid companies before joining Model last August.

Model, in fact, was one of Bradley’s own clients for 20 years, Subar noted.

“He had done a good job for us and first aid and safety was an opportunity we were looking to get into. It was a good match at the right time for both of us.”

Bradley said calls are coming in for products, equipment and training services across the board. The company’s compliance program is especially popular right now.

“MIOSHA (Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has been a little active here recently, primarily around the airport area, and so I’ve had calls from people on the MIOSHA compliance issues,” Bradley noted.

“Everybody has concerns with MIOSHA compliance because fines are connected to it.

"In many, many cases companies don’t find out that they have a problem until MIOSHA walks in the door and fines them $10,000. The government can be very nasty at times.”

Some companies don’t pay enough attention to first aid and safety until MIOSHA pays a visit or until some kind of accident happens, Subar said.

According to MIOSHA, companies can reduce injuries by 20 percent to 40 percent by establishing a safety and health program.

Furthermore, studies indicate employers can save $4 to $6 for every $1 they invest in such programs.

All Model training is done on site at the client firm's convenience, Bradley said.

He conducts classes at all hours of the day and night, often at 3 a.m. to accommodate third shifters. Training times and session lengths can vary depending on customers’ situations and their needs, wants and desires, he said.

“Our purpose is to help employers keep the government off their backs, help them be more profitable and help them create a safe and healthy workplace for their employees,” Bradley said.

“Employers may not have the expertise in-house to do that for themselves. We’re just here to try to help them.”

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