Volume 3 | Issue 2 | Year 2000

MSA never stops thinking about your safety. Based in Pittsburgh, Pa., MSA is the world’s largest company (with about $500 million in annual sales) dedicated to providing a range of equipment and systems to protect the world’s work force (both on the job and at home). MSA develops and makes and/or markets everything from personal protective equipment to environmental surveillance to specialty chemicals.

Customer Cross-section

You can find MSA’s hard hats, respirators and monitoring equipment being used by workers in every industry all over the world. They work in firefighting, chemical, steel, mining, shipbuilding, agricultural, pharmaceutical and laboratory, hazardous waste, offshore refining, pulp-and-paper processing, and public utility environments. Other products include:

  • personal protective equipment including air-purifying respirators and hard hats that help protect construction workers and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and thermal imaging cameras that help protect firefighters;
  • portable and continuous instruments that help customers monitor environments for oxygen levels, combustible gases and toxic gases, with various sensing technologies (including electrochemical, infrared and ion mobility spectroscopy);
  • medical instrumentation that helps protect healthcare employees from workplace hazards and monitors patients with items such as the MiniOX® Oxygen Monitors, often called the industry standard; and
  • chemical manufacturing and research activities that characterize MSA’s Callery

Chemical Company, which supplies commercial quantities of boron chemicals, metal alkoxides and alkali metals for industry and R&D use. Recently, MSA began to focus on protecting consumers and do-it-yourselfers, who statistically bear the heaviest burden of personal injuries. MSA Safety Works™ products are sold through leading retail home improvement centers and hardware stores.

Striving to comply with government regulations, workers everywhere monitor their possible exposure to hazardous gases, coal dust, silica, benzene, asbestos fibers, etc., with hand-held gas detectors, monitors and accessories outfitted for data logging. According to Christopher Kairys, MSA’s marketing communications manager, “The three-button FiveStar® Personal Alarm, our most popular gas detector, can monitor up to five different gases with internal sensors, yet it’s simple to use, even in confined spaces and remote areas.”

Firefighters, military personnel and municipal anti-terrorist teams wear specialized MSA respiratory protection. Hospital and healthcare workers protect against formaldehyde and ethylene oxide exposure with MSA products. Asbestos abatement and construction workers count on MSA respirators and face, hearing, and head protection.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers use Callery Chemical’s special and fine chemicals as catalysts in processes that yield major new prescription medications. Also benefiting from these technologies are agrochemical, plastics, electrochemical and automotive industries.

Quality Assurance

Since MSA began operations as Mine Safety Appliances Company in 1914, its reputation for quality products has never been challenged. Many components of MSA products are formulated, machined, tooled or molded in-house from raw materials. This gives the company greater manufacturing control, with quality assurance for customers. MSA is certified as meeting the full ISO 9001 quality assurance requirements of the International Standard Organization (ISO).

Choices and Customization

Variety within most product groups means a wide selection of models, sizes, colors, materials, options, accessories and prices. Customers can choose from a wide range of safety products that fit them, their jobs and their budgets.Kairys says, “No one else offers hundreds of choices of respirators, both off the shelf and assembled to order, from disposable air-purifying respirators to NFPA-compliant self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBAs). Some products can be upgraded in the future; some can be tailored to suit customers’ specific workplace applications.

“For example,” he continues, “our WorkMask™ Air Mask SCBA, used in industrial settings, does not require all the NFPA-specified features of our flame-and heat-resistant MMR Xtreme® Air Mask for firefighters.”State-of-the-art computerized equipment, such as CAD systems and stereolithography (which produces prototypes rapidly), enables technology to enhance MSA’s product development creatively, so MSA can respond quickly to customers’ changing needs.

One example of customized services comes from MSA’s wholly owned affiliate, Rose Manufacturing Company. With customized fall-protection products, confined-space entry/retrieval equipment, training, consulting, and engineering services, Rose specializes in finding the most cost-effective and productive solutions.

Personal Service

“MSA’s personalized service starts with a network of trained distributors, the largest team of field representatives in the safety industry, and our award-winning Customer Service Center,” adds Kairys. “Our experts understand the hazards you fight and are experienced in recommending solutions. “Every customer wants customer satisfaction, and every good business claims to have it. But at MSA, we think it’s even more important to strive for continuous improvement in customer satisfaction. For example, TeleProfessional magazine has honored our Customer Service Center for call center excellence. In 1999, besides their Zenith award for overall highest score, we won first place in the same category for which we had placed second in 1998. Our ongoing improvements must be working!”

Worldwide Presence

With affiliates in various countries around the world, MSA has long had a strong global reach, which, during the past decade or so, has extended into Hungary, Poland, China and Russia. Affiliates and distributors represent MSA in more than 120 countries.This year, MSA’s Canadian and Mexican operations have begun to unite more closely with the U.S. operations. Individual European MSA companies are already under one umbrella. Chairman/CEO John T. Ryan III is enthusiastic about the company’s future: “We are now well rooted in globalizing our product development strategy, and we continue integrating the European markets with our new European management team.

“Another step taken toward global integration has been MSA’s implementation of our Enterprise Wide System, a computer software system linking MSA facilities worldwide with a single computer network,” Ryan notes. “And, part of this challenge was to address the infamous Y2K issues, which we accomplished successfully.”

MSA also is increasing immediate customer access to information and efficient solutions. Its ever-evolving Internet site now offers an online product catalog, called Safety Products Network (SPN), and some specialized online tools, such as one to help customers determine respirator cartridge life expectancy. Continuing improvements will make www.MSAnet.com a key customer service component relevant to customers worldwide and a benchmark for the industry.