IFSJ Exclusive: Every second counts with Blackline Safety

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Sean Stinson, newly appointed president at Blackline Safety tells all about his new role and future plans at the company

In March of this year, Blackline Safety announced key promotions and changes to its executive leadership team, including Sean Stinson’s promotion to the additional role of President. With this appointment, Stinson assumed the leadership of software and professional service offerings, including Blackline Vision custom analytics. He also continues to lead all revenue generating activities, including sales, customer success and channel management.

Stinson joined Blackline in 2013 and has held progressively senior roles at the Company, including sales, product, data services, user experience, client success and customer care. Prior to Blackline, Stinson held leadership roles in engineering and project management at BW Technologies and Honeywell. IFSJ Editor Iain Hoey sat down with Stinson’ to discuss his background, his thoughts on the industry, and his vision for Blackline’s future.

How did you become involved in the fire and safety industry?

A big part of what gives me my passion for the job and led to my early understanding of what customers need to do to keep people safe, is that I worked in the oil industry in Alberta early on, performing a variety of general labour jobs to help pay my way through university.

As a junior-level employee, I was often crawling inside petrochemical plants to do maintenance during a turnaround and I relied on portable gas protectors for my own personal safety. When I graduated as an electrical engineer, it was a natural progression to end up on the manufacturing side of the safety business and I’ve been here for more than two decades now.

Early in my career I held engineering and project management roles at BW Technologies and Honeywell, where I used my lived experience to create products that resonated with users. My deep understanding of customer needs allowed me to move quickly into leadership roles where I applied my knowledge to make better design decisions.

When Blackline embarked on our product strategy to build the G7 EXO area monitor, it was my responsibility to make sure we had the proper specifications in place to provide the best possible user experience.

What prompted your appointment as President?

Largely, the leadership changes are related to growth. Our company is almost 500 employees now and we’re selling products around the world. Six years ago, most of our revenue was generated in Canada whereas now we are the undisputed global leader in wearable connected safety devices for the industrial market. That growth necessitated the creation of new roles, including the role of President, to assist our CEO Cody Slater as we execute on strategy and allow him to retain a clear focus on direction and other C-level decisions. Cody and I have known each other and worked well together for a long time now and between us, we provide really good coverage of the skills required for strong leadership.

What does your new role entail and how does it fit with your role as Chief Growth Officer?

I still have the Chief Growth Officer responsibilities of sales, revenue generation and customer care. In addition to that, I’m assuming leadership of our software and professional service offerings, which brings me back to my engineering roots in some ways.

The title of President reflects my natural tendency to focus on strategy and business operations. I believe that leadership is really about empowering people to rise to their full potential, and now I’m in a position to make moves that allow employees to contribute more to our business at an individual level.

We have a fantastic team here and a big part of what I do now, and have done in the past as well, is pull people together to ensure we maintain our strong corporate culture. As President, I can step beyond my own team to fight the silos that often creep in when a company grows, and ensure we continue to build a productive, energised and inclusive culture here at Blackline.

What has Blackline been working on recently?

One of our most recent developments for the fire and safety market is the enhanced G7 EXO area monitor which now has plume modelling capabilities. We built this product with fire safety in mind, knowing that any time there is a release of harmful chemicals, it’s of utmost importance for the tactical teams on the ground to have accurate information about what’s happening now and what’s about to happen next.

Our newest technology was designed with input from Business Development Specialist Doug Mayer who works directly with our customers in the fire and safety space. We’ve incorporated their feedback about the most pressing challenges they face to design a product that offers a very fast deployment – it’s up and running in 60 seconds whereas competing monitors can take hours to set up – and automatically connects directly to the cloud to steam critical insights during an emergency.

What are Blackline’s plans for the near future? Is there anything specific you’re working towards?

Broadly, we’ll be continuing to expand and enhance our EXO product line. For the fire and safety market in particular, we’ll be adding more interchangeable cartridges to our area monitor so that responders will have the ability to sense more than five gases at a time. We understand that every second counts when they’re facing an unexpected gas release. Our goal is to provide a wide range of swappable cartridges, so that no matter what they’re faced with when they arrive, they’ll have a kit that that can keep them safe.

This exclusive article was originally published in the May 2023 issue of International Fire & Safety Journal. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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