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Since 1983, Ergodyne has been on a mission to supply well-crafted work gear. It is the company’s "daily quest," says CEO Tom Votel, "to develop and market innovative, smartly-designed, high-quality solutions for the workers in the trenches and on the frontlines," and (as the company slogan says) “Make The Workplace a Better Place.”
The company's beginnings were humble. A company description in Inc. characterizes Votel's decision to take over his father's company as a risky move. At the time, business was drying up and bankruptcy seemed imminent. "All that was left," Votel recalled, "was a stockroom clerk, a secretary, and me."
It wasn't long before Votel turned things around. In the mid-80s, Ergodyne launched their flagship ProFlex brand, and by the early 1990s, they had placed #243 (’91) and #165 (’92) on the celebrated Inc. 500 List. That’s when the company begin diversifying offerings, developing innovative vibration-reducing gloves.By 1992, Ergodyne was nearing sales of $30 million and became the largest producer of safety equipment for repetitive stress disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome. The distribution strategy is what made the difference. Ergodyne changed from marketing to insurance companies (hoping they'd recommend the product line to their customers), to selling directly to companies with employees at risk.
Designs for Everyday Challenges
What sets the ProFlex brand products apart is a unique design built with the worker’s everyday challenges in mind. Besides meeting American National Standards Institute standards, ProFlex Vibration-Reducing Series Gloves use patented Nu202 advanced vibration-dampening gel polymers, moisture wicking fabrics, and breathable spandex. The Nu202 is a patented three-layer gel polymer palm pad that provides maximum protection from shock and vibration. These product characteristics protect the hands of every company’s most valuable asset: its employees.
The success of early brands paved the way for more, and vital personal protective equipment (PPE) products kept coming through the Ergodyne pipeline. By 2001, the company had developed and patented the award-winning On3 Patient Transfer Device, which provides smooth lateral transfers of a patient by a single caregiver while reducing the caregiver's risk of back injury. They also introduced the Chill-Its line of body cooling products, providing workers with everything from sun protection and moisture wicking material to hydration packs.
The desire to add ever-increasing customized products for their customers still drives the company mission. By 2007, Ergodyne had launched GloWear, Squids, N-Ferno and Arsenal brand. And their line continues to expand with the introduction of CORE Performance Work Wear, SHAX Portable Work Shelters, and Skullerz Head Protection.
A Company with Personality
Ergodyne is more than just a PPE distributor; it's a full-fledged brand. The company's personality is on full display on its recently re-launched, mobile-ready website. Visitors can enjoy web content, product descriptions, and informative resources, all with Ergodyne's unique sense of humor. The company takes products and services very seriously, but not themselves; they take a light-hearted approach that makes them accessible and while also being informative.
And it's not just the customers who enjoy Ergodyne's approach to business; the employees are well cared for as well. The Minneapolis Business Journal named Tenacious Holdings, Inc. (of which Ergodyne is a division) one of their Best Places to Work in 2010.
Editor’s Note: Brand names mentioned in this article are Trademarks of Ergodyne.