Safway is celebrating 80 Years Strong on Monday, February 29. This milestone anniversary would be remarkable, based on just the length of time alone. The average lifespan of a company has decreased by more than 50 years over the last century, from 67 years in the 1920s to just 15 years today. But what makes this anniversary even more noteworthy is how Safway, one of the world’s leading access and industrial services providers, has been able to continually meet radical changes in customer needs and expectations over the decades through a commitment to innovation and ongoing improvement.
"Safety and continual improvement are the core values that Safway was founded on, and we have remained true to these values over eight decades of steadfast growth," said Safway President and CEO Bill Hayes. "Along with our dedication to keeping customers in the center of everything we do – by taking the time to understand their changing needs – these values have kept us at the forefront of our industry. This is how we define success, and we’re pleased that this focus has brought so many good things to so many people over the decades."
Safway was founded in 1936 by Milwaukee stonemason Reinhold Uecker. He invented steel scaffolding after he was injured in a fall from a faulty wood platform. When workers, who used the innovative steel scaffold, found that using a safe, steady platform increased their productivity, a new company, Safway Steel Scaffolds, was born.
To celebrate Safway’s 80 years of service to the industry, and as a demonstration of Safway’s commitment to enhance the communities in which it has branches and locations across North America, Safway is raising funds for two charities: Habitat for Humanity and the Red Cross. Safway employee fundraising will be carried out through November 30, 2016, and Safway Group will match employee fundraising up to $40,000. In December, all of the funds raised will be equitably divided and distributed to the two chosen charities. The goal is to raise a total of $80,000 (including the company match) to mark 80 years.
Today Safway has 115 locations and over 10,000 employees across North America, as well as business relationships on five continents. The company’s steadfast focus on customers is evident in the way it has added new service capabilities in response to a changing world: extraordinarily adaptable access systems for use in complex situations; new ways of planning and engineering; and comprehensive multiservice capabilities, such as insulation and painting/coatings, which save time and improve results.
"While we are growing significantly above overall market growth rates and our safety performance continues to improve, our focus is on being the best industrial service provider, not necessarily the largest," Hayes said. "Big is fine," added Hayes, "but as we celebrate 80 Years Strong, our goal remains to be the best in our industry – and by that we mean the best in the eyes of our customers. As we continue to refine and improve on our key differentiators, we constantly ask ourselves: ‘What’s in it for our customers?’ We have to deliver value on each and every project. We want our customers to see us as an indispensable partner."
Safway has added value for its customers through the acquisition of companies that have expertise and experience in complimentary service areas. In 2015, Safway joined together with Mobley Industrial Services, the largest independent coatings company in North America and the largest industrial services acquisition for Safway to date. Mobley brings decades of coatings and insulation expertise to complement Safway’s scaffolding and access experience. As a result of this and several previous acquisitions, (including All-American Scaffold, CL Coatings; Industrial Coatings & Fireproofing; New England Scaffold Redi Solutions; Safway Atlantic; S&E Bridge & Scaffold; and Swing Staging), customers in the construction, manufacturing, energy, chemical processing, transportation and marine sectors, now have a single, powerful integrated provider to meet their most complex multiservice needs. It is important to note, however, that Safway has done more than simply react to customers’ changing needs.
It is important to note, however, that Safway has done more than simply react to customers’ changing needs. Often, Safway has been at the forefront of innovation as the agent of change. For example, in 2006, Safway further diversified its access capabilities through the acquisition of Beeche Systems and its QuikDeck® Suspended Access System. This was also the basis for creating what is now Safway’s Bridge & Specialized Products Division. In 2014, the Bridge Division created the next phase of suspended access with the invention of the patented QuikShield® Suspended Access System product line. Another example is the HAKI® weather protection system, which Safway can use to enclose entire buildings. In 2013, Safway became the primary distributor of HAKI products. In 2014, the company adopted the innovative SafRise Climber™, increasing productivity with the safest and highest speed-to-capacity ratio available in the motorized industry.
In addition to innovation and diversification in its product line, Safway has also embraced technology as a way to enhance the delivery of products and services for its customers. Through programs and services, such as Safnet, the Branch Automation System (BAS), the Safway Tracking System (STS), Computer Aided Drafting Software and SafScan™ High Definition Laser Scanning, Safway has been able to streamline its business and deliver improved performance and a higher degree of efficiency for its customers.
However, just as important as all that has changed in eight decades is what hasn’t: a focus on safety. "Nothing is more important to our customers or our company than safety," says Hayes. "Our first and foremost responsibility is to make sure each of our 10,000+ employees on hundreds of jobsites goes home safe every day. It’s in our name. It’s been our bottom line for 80 years and will always be at the heart of everything we do."