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The Guardian Fall Team Blog

While the effects of the economy over the last two years have been felt everywhere, it is perhaps most felt in the construction industry. Go to any large city or suburban area and you would see unfinished construction projects and vacant lots where the first nail hadn’t even been driven. Contractors laid off workers and some companies went out of business altogether. The economic downturn didn’t just hurt contractors. It hurt those who make building materials and safety equipment.

Those who have survived the past two years have done so through perseverance and improvisation. Rather than hiring new workers, some went through temporary services. Rather than purchasing large construction equipment, some might rent instead. Unfortunately when it came to fall protection equipment, there wasn’t a major company in the industry that would rent their safety gear.

Cutting corners and coming up with cost saving practices has become more and more commonplace. Contractors have had to use old, outdated, and occasionally unsafe equipment just to survive. In response to this, OSHA has stepped up inspections, increased fines, and recently announced that they were specifically going to focus on fall protection violations. Barringer Brothers Roofing in Missouri was recently fined $107,000 for fall protection violations. OSHA’s actions definitely make for safer workplaces, but the potential for fines can easily put some contractors out of business.

Ed Marquardt, President of Guardian Fall Protection has been keenly aware of these changes in the industry and has positioned his company to respond. The symbiotic nature of the fall protection industry and the construction industry is nothing new to Marquardt. “Contractors are our lifeblood. If they go under, we go under.” Marquardt said.

As the economy slowly improves contractors have to be careful which projects they take on. A large project has the potential for good profits, but the start up costs sometimes make it impossible. The initial costs of safety equipment can often make large projects difficult to tackle and once the project is done, the contractor is left with equipment that won’t be used until the next large project shows up and a lot of money tied up in unused safety equipment.

The one thing a slow economy teaches is the ability to be flexible. At Guardian Fall Protection, Ed Marquardt has come up with a way to give contracting companies the flexibility necessary to take on jobs they might not otherwise have the resources to go after. The solution was simple, but also untested. What if instead of buying equipment that might only be needed for a month or two, what if contractors could rent that same equipment?

Guardian Fall Protection is the first company in the nation to offer top of the line fall protection equipment for rent. All of the equipment used is new or recertified giving the contractor the same level of safety they’d have if they had to buy everything without the increased cost.

“We recognize that some jobs require more equipment than a company might have the capital to purchase. Our rental program lets them get the tools they require without stretching their wallets.” Marquardt said. “We’ve got to adapt our business so they can adapt as well.”