More than meets the eye . . .

27May11

Today I had the opportunity to tour a series of manufacturing facilities in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. Codet – makers of Big Bill Workwear – is a 2nd generation family company that is a Canadian Manufacturing success story, and a great supplier for Brenkir. They make all the ‘regular gear’ – workpants and shirts, coveralls, coats, the famous ‘woods shirt’ (you know, the red and black plaid ones) plus knitwear, lined jeans, and so on. That’s impressive enough. But what was really cool was to see the high levels of professionalism and capital investment required to have the level of productivity, safety and attention to quality that we saw in every employee there. When you are responsible for making the clothes that linesmen wear when they are working with Newfoundland Power, or the coveralls that protect guys on offshore oil rigs work outdoors in very challenging conditions, you need to pay attention to quality. And Codet does.

There is more than meets the eye in a good pair of FR (flame retardant) work pants, for example. A zipper that meets the FR standards costs about 20 times as much as a regular zipper. When you think about an arc flash, you really want to make sure that the area covered by the zipper is especially well protected, don’t you? What about your blackberry? Is there a pocket that fits that so you don’t have to dig for it when you’re sitting down. And why is it that so many ‘work pants’ have a waistline that is somewhere just underneath your ribs? Codet makes their own patterns and have adjusted their work pants to have a ‘low rise’ that is like the comfortable fit you expect from your favorite pair of jeans.

Justin Audet has been a great host all day, and we’ve seen their manufacturing and distribution centers on this side of the border. Very impressive – certainly makes it easier to explain to our customers WHY you need dolman sleeves in your utility jacket (so you can raise your amrs overhead without your coat sliding halfway up your back). I know now that I will check the quality of my safety gear even more carefully. That’s the point, really, of these sorts of trips.

Tomorrow it’s off to Vermont to see their US operations. Can’t wait.

Here are a few snaps from our tour.

Cutting 30 Layers of Fabric at at timeA LITTLE PIECE OF THE ACTION

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