Clients look to local firm for training, advice
Robert Baldwin repeatedly describes his business as keeping people safe and alive.
At Safety Resources Inc., that translates to making sure workplace policies and practices meet or exceed government standards and clients' employees are trained in the safest ways to work.
That can mean anything from the proper operation of heavy construction machinery to the right floor wax to reduce slip-andfall accidents.
After several years as a chemical engineer, Baldwin, 50, saw his responsibilities grow to include understanding safety policies and procedures. And after the economic bust of 1988, he realized that he could make a living as an independent safety consultant.
When he and his family moved from the Northeast to Indiana in 1995 to be closer to relatives, he formed Safety Resources and worked out of his home. In 1998, he got even more serious, forming a Subchapter S corporation and hiring a practice manager who oversees finances and keeps things running.
As with many businesses, he financed startup operations himself. Now, though, he has a line of bank credit and a formal business plan.
With practice administrator Cheryl Bir on board, Baldwin is freed from writing checks and paying bills. Instead, he can focus on growing the business and developing services to meet clients' needs.
Safety Resources was the first such company in the Midwest to develop training materials that allow users to perform keyword searches on the computer, he said, "and we are willing to invest in research and development of new and better ways" to keep people and their workplaces safe.
The company has moved its marketing efforts from print to the Internet.
"Businesses almost always visit the Internet when researching goods and services. We've never looked back," Baldwin said.
When Dallas-based Redlee/SCS Group expanded its commercial cleaning operations to Indianapolis, the company set its sights on Eli Lilly and Co. Executives knew safety would be a primary concern for the local pharmaceutical manufacturer, so they contracted Baldwin for his expertise.
"They researched safety companies and Robert Baldwin had a very good link to Eli Lilly and how it operates with contractors," said Jim Walsh, regional operations manager for Redlee/SCS' 140 employees in Indianapolis. The company operates in nine states and 17 cities.
"Many safety companies were hesitant to get involved with a janitorial company," he said.
Safety Resources wasn't.
Now it provides all Redlee/SCS' newemployee orientation and conducts safety audits of its workplaces. And any time there is a safety incident, Safety Resources employees are on site within 30 minutes, Walsh said, taking a detailed written report so they can provide feedback.
"I feel confident saying that, with Safety Resources on board doing audits, our workers are safer and it has helped us prevent service injuries," he said.
The Sheet Metal Contractors Association of Central Indiana has been working with Safety Resources since Baldwin got started. The company provides basic services, such as safety audits and training, to employees of the 18 contractor-members of the association as part of membership, said Phil Gillespie, executive director of the trade group.
Most construction contractors emphasize safety in their operations as a way to cut insurance costs, reduce time-loss accidents, ensure compliance with government standards and keep workers safe, he said.
"Many times we need some expert advice on reducing hazards in the shop or on the job," he said.
For anyone interested in starting a company, Baldwin advises, "absolutely love what you do. You have to have a personal conviction and know when to get out of your own way. We feel real good about what we do, and that's what drives us to do it."
Owner Robert Baldwin is focused on growing the business by meeting clients' needs.