In 1935, Walter “Wally” Grossman realized after graduating from school that finding employment in the midst of the Great Depression was not going to be easy. He then began developing and manufacturing heat and thermal protective apparel for foundry workers, steel pipe manufacturers and welders in his father’s basement in Cleveland, Ohio. It wasn’t long before Wally’s business took off and his father, George, quit his job and began working alongside his son. Together, they started a successful family business despite severe economic conditions.
Since the 1930’s, the American workforce has experienced a drastic change. Specifically, during the founding year of National Safety Apparel (NSA), only 25.4 percent of women held jobs outside the household. Today, roughly 47 percent of women are actively working in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Although there has been a substantial increase in women workers overall, the manufacturing industry has not experienced quite the same upswing.
A recent study conducted by Deloitte shows that only 29 percent of women hold jobs within the U.S. manufacturing industry. However, in comparison, 64 percent of National Safety Apparel (NSA) employees are women; more than double the national average. Women represent 25 percent of the executive staff as well. The company prides itself on having such a diverse workforce that also includes representation from nearly 30 countries around the globe.
Women hold a variety of leadership positions throughout NSA including several high functional roles such as Chief of Staff, Vice President of Human Resources, Director of Marketing, Director of Strategic Accounts, Managers of all Quality, Research & Development, Production Planning, Accounting, and Customer Service functions. In addition, both Manufacturing Managers on first and second shift are also occupied by women as well as the majority of our operation supervisors in both the manufacturing and distribution functions.
[The photo above was taken as a member of our executive team walked by a production meeting. The entire room is comprised of women from Quality Assurance, Research & Development, Manufacturing, Customer Service, Supply Chain, Pre-Production, and Planning, This is a very common view throughout NSA.]
“NSA not only believes in supporting women in manufacturing, we also try to support initiatives throughout Northeast Ohio (NEO) including working with multiple refugee services in the area, attending various career day activities at local high schools, and have long-standing relationships with a variety of women’s groups throughout NEO”, stated Lindsay DesJardins, Vice President of Human Resources.
“Having such a diverse team, aids the company in our efforts to offer truly innovative and creative solutions for our customers. Statistically, there is a strong correlation between diversity/ inclusion and profitability, but with NSA being a recipient of Case Western’s Weatherhead School of Management Top 100 fastest growing companies in NEO two years in a row, the results are clear. There is an insurmountable force behind our leadership team that continues to drive results and growth.
Team NSA has a long standing practice of developing women and promoting from within the organization. Nearly all of the women holding a leadership role within manufacturing started in a production and operational capacity and received promotional opportunities based on their skill set, competencies, and traits that continue to demonstrate a passion for success.
NSA continues to grow rapidly and will look to add an additional 25-30 positions to its operation in 2019 in a variety of functional areas. NSA will likely continue to see benefit and have success by filling these positions with women that wish to continue their development and growth in an environment where they can thrive and truly make a meaningful difference in the overall culture and success of the company.