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Exclusive interview: Jim Everett, President of Performance Advantage Company

International Fire and Safety Journal speaks exclusively with Jim Everett, President of Performance Advantage Company

The pandemic has drastically changed attitudes towards health and safety within the workplace. Globally, organisations are changing the way they work to ensure that the safety of staff is a priority, whilst also maintaining working practice.

For fire departments, this has always been at the forefront of their minds. With firefighters being exposed to potentially dangerous carcinogens on the fire ground, keeping PPE and equipment clean and stored away safely is one precaution that can be taken.

However, different departments around the world operate in different ways, so there is no one way to provide a solution to keeping equipment stored away. Therefore, it has fallen on to manufacturers of mounting and storage kits to provide reliable, flexible equipment that is fit for purpose in the modern fire department. This is where companies like PAC Tool Mounts have stepped up and offered solutions.  

International Fire and Safety Journal recently caught up with Jim Everett, President of the company to discuss their roots of the company and their role within the fire market.  

Back to its roots

Over the years, PAC have built up the knowledge and experience to become pioneers in the tool mount industry. Having been founded in the early 1900’s by Dick Young and his family, the company have built upon the foundations that have been laid. On the early days of the company, Everett comments: “Dick was truly an innovator in the building of apparatus through his approach to new and more effective truck designs, as well as being the driving force in the utilisation of new materials in the building of fire trucks when it came to truck bodies.

“He was a pioneer when it came to the development of Fiberglass truck bodies. Young Fire Equipment, which was the name of his truck building operation, had family origins in the fire truck building industry going back to 1928.”

He continues: “Mr. Young delivered his last truck in 1991. During that time after closing the truck building operation, Dick was exploring the approach of making tool and equipment mounting brackets through the use of strong and very durable composite materials. After a period of creating bracket designs while working out of his home, the Performance Advantage Company was formally introduced int o the marketplace in 1992.”

Customer focused solutions

Part of the reason the team at PAC have managed to adapt throughout the years is their ability to interact with its customer base. This has allowed the company to continue to innovate by listening to the needs of the industry. This is something that Everett believes has helped them to serve the industry.

On this, Everett reveals his role in ensuring the company are always maintaining a high level of customer service. “It is my responsibility to continue to drive product innovation, exercise responsible financial management for the corporation, and most of all, ensure that the needs of all our customers are met (and hopefully exceeded). I strongly believe that the products we have to offer are the best in the industry. Good products are not enough, however.

He concludes: “One of the core values that I continue to instill in our staff is the importance of top-level customer service and support. Technology continues to develop as one of the most important tools in business. But at the end of the day, it still comes down to our people dealing with individuals within our customer base, and the servicing of those customer’s needs. Business with PAC is still very much about building relationships with our customers. It is not enough to have customers just “like” our products. They must be able to count on us to help them answer the questions about what is the best, and most cost-effective way to realise efficient tool mounting solutions.”

Gaining that customer feedback has also played a huge role in the continued innovation within the company. Having that close relationship with their customer base has allowed PAC to remain close to the industry and deliver exactly what is needed for each department they work with.

“Everett believes that by working like this, they are able to consistently improve their services. He states: “Our customer support professionals know a lot about the fire industry and the tools used in that industry, but we still rely heavily on the feedback from our customers as to what they need in the field. The firefighting volunteers and professionals who work in the industry everyday can always identify what pieces of equipment they may have, that they may not have an adequate means to secure effectively.

“Next, we search non-stop as to what the new tool products are that are being introduced in the marketplace. Finally, we are always looking for ways to make our existing tool mounting products even better.”

Company culture

In an era where customer interaction is more important than ever, the culture within a company is vital to ensure that everyone is moving forward with the same goal in mind. The end result can often be seen by customers and can shape the future of a company and its products.

“Everett believes the culture at PAC means everyone within the company are part of the whole success of the business, and that has a positive knock-on effect when building relationships with clients: “Every employee believes that what they do is a critical element in the ongoing success of our company, and they are absolutely right. We believe in the value of creating long standing relationships with our vendors as well as our customers.

“We also believe we offer the very best in the products needed to properly secure your tools and equipment, but just as important is we understand the need for us to be there for our customers with the very best in customer service.

Everett concludes: “Our corporate culture is what has been the driving force in our success for the last 29 years. Our dedication to our customers is what has truly defined our overall success. When we meet with our customers (especially our long-standing customers) they mention how much they like our products, but the conversation ultimately transitions to how happy they are in the way we take care of them and their needs. That’s the real win for us!”

Protecting the fire market

With nearly 100 years’ experience serving the fire market and those who operate within it, Everett and the team of experts at PAC have built up the expertise and knowledge to continue to support the industry with innovation in in the form of storage and mounting kits for departments.

Whilst Everett does highlight that protecting the expensive equipment that department use is important, PAC also help keep trucks safe for crew. “What we focus on is creating the means by which fire departments can protect their expensive tools and equipment from damage or even potential loss. In addition, properly securing the fire industries “tools of the trade” helps in creating an overall safer environment when firemen are in and around their trucks.

“We don’t hesitate to go the extra mile with many of our products in having them tested and certified to be in compliance with NFPA impact standards, and we think this illustrates how important it is to outfit vehicles with products that are not only functional but help protect the firemen that work with that vehicle. The fire industry is one that can result in a life-or-death situation at any given call. PAC and each of our staff members look at what we do to help firefighters in the performance of their duties as a huge responsibility to securing their safety.”

Overcoming change

The fire and safety industry is constantly evolving, and new change brings with it new challenges, both for departments and for manufacturers who serve them. For this reason, it is important that manufacturers are able to maintain adaptability as innovation takes the industry forward with new firefighting equipment.

At PAC, this ability to adapt is something they have already considered. Everett explains how they have maintained standards as the industry changes: “We must be able to effectively adapt to the changes that occur in any of the industries we serve. The fire industry is a great example of changes in the tools and equipment, but the regulations and standards that help protect our firefighters is critical to take into consideration when developing new products or updating existing ones.

“Our work over the years in dealing with the U.S Military and the mandatory standards they maintain has helped in testing and compliance activities in the fire industry. We stay very much in tune with those areas of the NFPA standards that directly affect the products we make and the environment that they are used in. Again, it comes back to taking seriously the responsibility we have to the fire industry to put out the very best in products, backed up by the very best in customer service and support.”

As the industry continues to change, having manufacturers that continue to engage with departments to find out what is needed to keep up to date with the latest changes is vital. With so much innovation continuing to change the needs of departments, the way that companies like PAC work will be essential to delivering fit for purpose equipment.