Stand and deliver

Written on the 11 August 2009

Ten years ago a former Australian Army officer and a robotics engineer started a Brisbane company with a safety system to protect fishermen from being washed off rocks or the decks of boats. The pair applied their product to the motto ‘good safety is good business’. Standfast CEO Cameron Baker tells Brisbane Business News how his health and safety product has attracted sophisticated investors worldwide as an industry standard.

IN 1999 ex-military officer Cameron Baker, along with business partner Neil McLaughlin, established Standfast Enterprises with a product called The Barnacle, initially targeted to protect people from falls while fishing.

But as companies started to realise that poor safety can deeply affect the bottom line, the pair sought to find a better, more practical way of keeping workers safe – a decision that led to the product Total Restraint Access Module (TRAM) in 2002, which has since generated rapid growth in global demand.

The key issue that Baker found was that while many safety products already on the market met industry standards, they often weren’t contextual to the situation at hand, but TRAM was able to solve that problem.

“The whole drive behind the business was to have Standfast products that were proactive in stopping falls — not reactive,” says Baker.

“A catastrophic fall causes massive morale issues. So the TRAM can and is used as a recruiting and retention tool, not to mention eliminating the cost of having a person hospitalized that can never work again and the potential legal issues that follow.”

Now sold in 28 countries, from the US to South Africa and Indonesia, Standfast has an extended market reach with blue-chip customers like BP, Shell, Orica and Chevron Texaco.

“The decision to go abroad was made simple by the size and initial acceptance of the product. At a US tradeshow the Standfast rep was approached by the owner of the largest dry bulk haulers in the US,” says Baker.

“The company had experienced a fall and the owner did not want to have that happen again. He ordered 500 units then and there. That company has ordered over 700 units and they have not had an incident since.”

This year Standfast signed a global distribution deal with one of the world’s leading safety equipment manufacturers Capital Safety.

“This is a huge step for Standfast. Teamed with Capitals extensive network of distributors and experienced sales network and people TRAM is poised to become the new industry standard for accessing and working safely on horizontal surfaces,” says Baker.

“Other industries Standfast and Capital will be taking on include wind energy, roofing, shipping, and agriculture to name a few. With Capital Safety it is a new beginning for Standfast and only the start of the story.”

In 2008 Standfast moved its head office to Chicago so it would be in a better position to capture the US market, but it still has offices in Brisbane, the UK and Malaysia.


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