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VOL. 125 | NO. 173 | Tuesday, September 7, 2010

State Systems Promotes Safety with First Aid Division

ROBIN GALLAHER BRANCH | Special to The Daily News

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State Systems president Bob McBride, left, and general manager of the First Aid division, James Fischer.
Photo: Lance Murphey

Dave Tamburrino, director of warehouse operations at Kele Inc., a HVAC control products distributor in Bartlett, realized that having first aid kits on the walls was common sense.

A workplace accident such as a knife cut, grease burn or welding burn is not something one thinks about constantly or something that happens every day; but when an accident suddenly occurs, it must be addressed immediately.

“You don’t have time to go out and get something,” Tamburrino continued. Consequently, when State Systems Inc., a distributor of commercial products that protect life and promote safety, brought out its new first aid line to existing customers, Tamburrino signed on.

State Systems launched its first aid and safety division in February. The safety products include glasses, hearing protection, hard hats and back supports.

State Systems already handles what Tamburrino calls Kele’s “security system issues.”

“State doesn’t do the monitoring but does everything else like installation,” he said.

Throughout the company, Kele has seven first aid kits installed on various walls. What Tamburrino especially likes is that State Systems takes care of maintaining the kits. For example, the kits come equipped with items a customer specifies – like bandages, scissors, eye cups, gloves, diarrhea medicine, pain relief, upset stomach relief, etc. State Systems then comes by monthly to replenish what’s been used.

As a way of promoting good service, State Systems does not charge a customer for the regular visit if nothing has been used, said Bob McBride, president.

Some existing State Systems customers also signed on for a blood pathogen kit; routinely it hangs next to the first aid kit on a wall. The blood pathogen kit contains immediate aids like bandages for the injured person who is bleeding and protection like gloves and a mask for the caregiver who seeks to stop the bleeding.

State Systems also provides adult training in first aid, CPR and automated external defibrillators. “We offer a foundational training course specifically for training employees in how to respond and care for medical emergencies in the workplace,” McBride said.

In its preliminary research for its new first aid division, State Systems found out that first aid kits and blood pathogen kits are not all that common in many businesses. What is common, however, is that a company’s receptionist, who sees just about everybody pass her desk at least once a day, routinely listens to employees’ health complaints.

“I have a headache! Do you have any aspirin?” somebody moans. The sympathetic receptionist then searches in her desk and takes out a bottle with a generic label containing a thousand aspirins. Then the person who’s under the weather shakes five tablets into his palm, selects two, and returns the rest to the bottle.

“I’ve seen guys in a shop pick up a bottle black with grease on the outside and full of black capsules on the inside,” said James Fischer, general manager of State’s first aid and safety division. What State Systems offers instead is a dosage of aspirin or pain reliever in an individualized wrapper with a written list of chemical components on its back.

The first aid and safety division joins other divisions in the company. McBride and his father bought State Systems in 1986; the younger McBride bought out his father in 1999. At the time, Bob McBride also owned Zee Medical Service Co., a local distributor of first aid products. He sold it in 1995, and part of the sales agreement was to stay out of distributing first aid products for five years. McBride did so.

State Systems grew gradually over the years by adding divisions to meet needs in the protection industry.

Its divisions include fire protection, including fire extinguishers and cabinets, fire hoses, exit and emergency lights and fire suppression systems; low voltage, including fire alarms, nurse call and intercom/paging systems; technology, such as wireless communications and CCTV; and pressure washing for vent hoods, industrial equipment, and concrete.

All its divisions supply products that meet national code standards. A safe working environment “helps to keep America working,” McBride said.

State Systems does roughly $10 million or more in business per year, McBride said. It has 85 employees. Revenue in the recession is down about 5 percent from last year, he added. The company is in a 22,000-square-foot building in the Winchester Business Park off Old Lamar Avenue.

“We constantly ask ourselves, ‘How can we do something differently?’ We’ve found that high-quality customer service is key to our business,” McBride said. As for his employees, a motto displayed in his office reads “Don’t criticize employees. Develop them.”

That’s McBride’s own philosophy. “I decided to do that years ago,” he explained with a smile.

PROPERTY SALES 64 151 1,493
MORTGAGES 45 105 1,152
BUILDING PERMITS 201 410 3,466