Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Safety Manufacturers Cope with a Changing Economy: Rick Miller, the Chairman of the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA), Discusses the Impact of Consolidation, Manufacturing Jobs Heading Overseas and 9/11 on Safety Equipment Manufacturers and Their Trade Association

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Safety Manufacturers Cope with a Changing Economy: Rick Miller, the Chairman of the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA), Discusses the Impact of Consolidation, Manufacturing Jobs Heading Overseas and 9/11 on Safety Equipment Manufacturers and Their Trade Association

Article excerpt

OH: What are some of the issues on ISEA members' radar these days?

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Miller: The industry consolidation that has slowed during this last economic downturn will begin to pick up now that employment levels and economic activity are on the rise. We'll see consolidation at distribution and manufacturer/supplier levels. A large part of consolidation for both is being driven by changes in the structure of the economy and the nature and breadth of industrial employment where workers would need the kinds of products which our member companies manufacture. The exportation of jobs in the manufacturing sector, in particular to overseas markets where the labor costs are lower, is a cause of concern to all our members, even those that are international in their scope and operation.

OH: Consolidation spells fewer dues-paying members for an association like ISEA. What are you doing about that?

Miller: Smaller companies are coming into ISEA so in total, membership has not changed much, but there are fewer large companies and more small companies. As a result of that, ISEA is working this year on a membership growth initiative. There are hundreds of companies that we think ought to be members of ISEA.

OH: The federal government has promised a lot of money to help equip emergency responders to meet the threat of terrorism. What is the situation?

Miller: The speed with which the government is trying to build a whole new cabinet department within the executive branch is probably unprecedented in American history. One has to be impressed with the amount of ground that has been covered thus far, though that ground has been bumpy from time to time. No one wants them to move so quickly that they make a mistake that they might have to correct later.

For example, there is an interagency board that comes up with the standardized list of equipment that fire, police and emergency medical departments would have to use if they are given grant money to purchase equipment. ISEA has attempted to get a seat at that table to help ensure the appropriate standards are being referenced, the appropriate quality and performance is behind the list. Thus far, the government has been reluctant to give us a formal seat at that table, but by and large, I think the progress is, on balance, positive. …

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