Mister Safety Shoes
In 1950, a man witnessed an unnecessary workplace death that changed his mission in life. Frank Colantonio’s epiphany led to the birth of Mister Safety Shoes Inc. and, ultimately, a new way of managing workplace safety.
Today, many companies in Canada — who share Frank’s vision for a safer workplace — turn to Mister Safety Shoes to streamline their workplace safety programs. These are companies who care about worker safety, but find footwear safety programs time consuming and unnecessarily complex. Thousands rely on the expertise of Mister Safety Shoes’ Managed Safety Footwear Programs.
Mike Miller used Mister Safety Shoes for 10 years while at Campbell Soup Company in Listowel, Ont. to help manage their safety footwear program. “When we compared different providers we had worked with, Mister Safety Shoes stood out for customer service. They really went the extra mile. They’re not just a provider, but a partner. I also found, over the years, that they could solve any problem.” Mister Safety Shoes brings over 40 years of expertise in workplace safety footwear to thousands of Canadian clients.
“We help them manage safety footwear compliance challenges, regardless of company size,” according to John Colantonio Managing Director of Mister Safety Shoes. “It’s about two things — providing workers with comfortable safety footwear, appropriate for their work environment, and making it easy for companies to manage their safety footwear program.”
Mister Safety Shoes facilitates workplace safety footwear programs through an innovative blend of streamlined internet tools with multiple distribution models. The company combines a fleet of mobile shoe stores — shoemobiles that come to the workers — together with retail and online stores (www.mistersafetyshoes.com), all systemized through a streamlined Internet portal for the managers of workplace safety.
Solving the Time Problem
“The problem they solved for me was time,” said Declan Friel, another manager who worked with Mister Safety Shoes. As Risk Manager at Colour by Deluxe Laboratories, he used Mister Safety Shoes for eight years. He valued “the convenience factor. We had over 300 employees who needed safety shoes. It’s a mandatory requirement — and it’s a challenge. Having Mister Safety Shoes visit our plant once a month enabled our workers to choose their own shoes. They made sure the shoes selected fell within the preselected criteria we had outlined at the onset of the program. They took care of the administration. They had the list of employees who were eligible. There were times when people needed specialized fitting with their shoes and they were always very accommodating.” Mr. Friel highlighted reliability and dependability as the main reason for their loyalty.
The time problem is also solved for workers. Mr. Colantonio of Mister Safety Shoes explained: “Many employees either take public transit or car pool to work. What could be more convenient for these workers than to bring the store right to the plant? The worker needs the shoes, the plant requires them to wear them, so we make it easy for them both to comply with the government mandated requirement.”
Mr. Friel cited “convenience — and trying to get the administration function away from myself,” as reasons for using Mister Safety Shoes. “The last thing you want to do in a company of 300 people is to maintain a database and hand out vouchers. Mister Safety Shoes takes that away from you. They manage it for you.”
Mister Safety Shoes was one of the first to field a fleet of fully-stocked, climate controlled, internet enabled mobile stores, according to Mr. Colantonio. For those who prefer to visit a store, or shop online, the company stocks among the largest selections of CSA Certified safety shoes in all styles and for all workplaces.
A Fit for All Sizes—of Company
Mister Safety Shoes’ programs fit with all sizes of companies — from a few workers, to thousands. This is achieved by customizing solutions to the specific client needs, facilitating easy compliance and administration of workplace safety, and providing convenient distribution direct to workers.
“The program they provided made it easy for the company to manage,” said Mike Miller. “The online system made it very easy for us to know who has purchased, without needing to use a paper system. Their account managers follow up. They always followed through with what they promised. I found their staff very professional, from their president to their mobile drivers.”
Mister Safety Shoes goes beyond the simplification of program management and compliance. The programs are customized to the needs of the company, making them suitable for any company size. Corporate clients work with a dedicated account manager supported by a team that ensures simplicity, suitability, quality of service and integrity of the program. The web-based purchase tracking system provides clients with easy reconciliation and reporting.
If the shoe fits — that’s not enough
Customization and simplification are also important to employees; they want shoes that fit and suit them in style, performance and comfort. The shoemobiles always have at least 1,200 pairs of shoes on board.
“Fit and comfort are expected of us,” explained Paul Alfieri, Marketing Manager of Mister Safety Shoes. “Where we excel is in expertise. The experts who man our trucks and the people in our stores know workplace footwear — but also workplace safety. They care as much about slip resistance, ergonomics, durability and protection, as they do about shoe features.”
As Mr. Alfieri points out “Ultimately, selection means comfort. We try to make it easy for workers to get the right shoe, so they aren’t soaking their feet in bath salts when they get home.” The wider selection — and expert knowledge — found in Mister Safety Shoes mobile, retail and online stores makes it unlikely a worker will end up in an uncomfortable shoe. “You’re on your feet all day, you need comfort too, not just safety.”
The Right Shoe for the Right Environment
The working environment plays a crucial role when it comes to selecting the ideal type of footwear and the recommendations made by Mister Safety Shoes’ experts. The wrong shoe in the wrong environment can be unsafe and often reduces productivity. With dozens of brands from around the world covering most conceivable workplace environments, Mister Safety Shoes makes sure workers have the right shoe for the right situation.
“Some customers require footwear that’s static-dissipative — footwear that minimizes static electricity between the sole and the ground,” said Mr. Colantonio. “Some workers need to pass through metal detectors, shoes that offer the needed protection but with no metallic components. These are a couple examples of unique safety footwear you won’t find in your local shoe store. We make sure workers understand their unique needs and find a solution for them. And they also need to be fitted. Ours is not a self serve environment.” He added that the staff is trained on how to fit safety footwear, which is much different than fitting regular shoes. “Most people’s discomfort comes from poorly fitted shoes. I can’t tell you how many unsolicited emails we get from customers that praise our staff for finding the right shoe for them and fitting it properly. ”
Convenience on the Move
The bright red and white Mister Safety Shoes mobile stores — known as “shoemobiles” — are a familiar sight in Ontario, always on the move from company to company. The state-of-the-art shoemobiles are built on the comfort and convenience model of Mister Safety Shoes. They provide a bright, comfortable and spacious environment that gives customers the feeling they are visiting a cozy brick-and-mortar retail store.
Customer Mike Miller described them as “very clean, very well stocked and very well organized and flexible. In one of my companies I had them come once a week, and in others they came once a month.”
With more than 1,200 pairs of shoes in stock, a worker is likely to find the right style, comfort and function of work shoe.
In addition to shoemobiles, Mister Safety Shoes has a network of retail stores. In these stores, Mister Safety Shoes also provides safety accessories such as hardhats, safety glasses, and hearing protection. They also carry lines of high-performance apparel including high-visibility jackets, durable work pants, as well as shirts, vests, and warm winter gear.
The Work Shoe Specialist
“One of the advantages of specializing for forty years in safety shoes is business synergies. We have built a network of clients and suppliers who work together to improve programs,” said Mr. Colantonio.
An advantage of specialization is that everyone — clients, suppliers, business owners, workers, program managers, and Mister Safety Shoes’ own expert teams — collaborate to continuously improve. The exchange of information is constant, and — as the industry specialists — Mister Safety is quick to act on feedback.
“We are solicited quite often by suppliers for feedback because we are right in front of the customer and we know their issues and needs,” says Mr. Alfieri. “The customers have the information our suppliers need to develop new products. This is a very active process for us, discussing issues users may have in particular work situations. Because we understand how these shoes are made, we are able to provide thorough feedback right to the manufacturers’ product development team—which in turn benefits our clients.”
Developing a network of suppliers is an active process for Mister Safety Shoes. Sourcing specialized products from safety footwear manufacturers from around the globe has been essential to building a broad and diverse line of products, enabling them to accommodate the distinct individual needs of their clients.
“Over the years, when a customer has needed a product that wasn’t available at the time, we’ve had to search the market for the right shoe for them,” said Colantonio. “For instance, we imported a line of shoes from Europe that are tailored for the food industry that are designed to prevent slip and fall injuries and have an upper that will stand up to oil and fat and chemicals that typical leather shoes couldn’t handle.”
The History of a Specialist—
the Listening Ear
With the listening ear of a specialist, always ready to adapt and improve — together with unparalleled expertise in work safety footwear— it is, perhaps, no surprise that Mister Safety Shoes has thrived for more than 40 years.
The history of Mister Safety Shoes dates back to the 1950s, when Frank Colantonio immigrated to Canada. Living the challenging life of an immigrant, Colantonio worked at dangerous construction sites.
When Frank Colantonio witnessed a preventable death of a fellow-worker, it became a defining moment in Frank’s life — and, ultimately, the inspiration for Mister Safety Shoes. It began with the realization that workplace safety is about prevention and proper training, which comes from advocacy and education.
Today, Frank’s vision is pervasive. The bright red and white Mister Safety Shoes mobile stores whiz by on highways servicing, several thousand clients. With the online shop and 12 retail stores — locations across the Greater Toronto Area, as well as Kitchener, Guelph, Oshawa, Sarnia, Ingersoll, Guelph, and Edmonton — Frank’s vision of a safe work place through prevention and proper training remains the inspiration of the experts at Mister Safety Shoes.