Checkers Industrial Safety Products Acquisition of Superior Manufacturing Group

Superior Manufacturing Group, Inc. has grown into one of the largest integrated manufacturers of floor matting products in the world. Superior Manufacturing Group, Inc. is a market leader in mats for professional use under the brand Notrax® and can be found in a wide variety of industries for industrial, commercial, food service applications.

Superior is now owned and operated by Checkers Industrial Safety Products who are also dedicated to quality products, customer service and sales support. We spoke to the Checkers president, Ray Torres, to find out more about the firm specializing in ground-based safety solutions.

Checkers Industrial Safety Products Inc Acquisition of Superior Manufacturing Group

Checkers Industrial Safety Products was founded in 1987, by Steve Henry who focussed his initial product line on large wheel chocks which he developed to hold or check (hence the company name Checkers) large haulage trucks in the mining industry. He developed a wheel chock for the first 160-tonne vehicles and today Checkers manufactures products that could check a 400-tonne vehicle. “Henry then sold the business to a private equity group in 2010, which is when I joined the firm. Since then, the focus has been to grow organically as well as through acquisitions” Torres explains.

Superior Manufacturing Group Inc. was founded in 1948 and privately owned by the Wood family, Torres explains. The Wood family consisted of a number of brothers who were looking to retire and “so we were fortunate to acquire Superior Manufacturing Group”. One of the things that Superior Manufacturing Group brought along in the acquisition is that they manufacture their own products in ISO certified facilities and offer global distribution capabilities with distribution centres throughout the United States and in Europe. Expanding on this point, he goes on to say, “the experience and knowledge gained from manufacturing these products on-site allow the firm to better adapt to market demands and provide flexibility and quick response to everchanging customer requirements. In addition, helping them to compete in today’s global market, they have quality manufacturing partners overseas as well.”

Another key element of the deal was their European footprint. Continuing the story, Torres tells us that the Checkers group were trying to establish their European presence for many years, but they did not have sufficient volume to support manufacturing, warehousing or stocking capabilities in this respect. The acquisition brought a strong presence in Europe, “but it also diversified much of our risk profile because we were concentrated in a couple of industries and sectors that were going through issues (such as mining, oil and gas)” Torres continues.

Notrax® Company Statistics

• They have 135 Notrax® matting products always in stock in various sizes and colours;

• Notrax® products are shipped within 24-hours; • 99.98% of their shipments are on time;

• Notrax® works with distributors in 40 countries in USA, Europe, East Europe, Russia, Scandinavia, Asia, Middle East and Africa;

• Their marketing materials are available in 19 languages.

Product overview

The Checkers Safety Group now boasts 4 power brands, the first of which is Linebacker®, which focuses on cable management systems, cable ramps and hose bridges. Cable management systems are laid on the ground and cables are run through them so that “pedestrians and vehicles can go across streets and walk on them without being exposed to the cables” he says and reveals that this type of product has been used in every Olympics event since around 1986.

Notrax® is a range of ergonomic, anti-fatigue safety mats for professional use in industrial, commercial and food service environments, and is probably the largest in the world or pretty close in that segment, as well as dust-control matting entrance matting.

TuffTrak® offers a range of light, medium and heavy duty outdoor ground and turf protection products, such as temporary access roadways, platforms and flooring for special events. The Terraplas® product line is a specialized grass protection system, used commonly in professional sports stadiums worldwide, including on soccer stadiums to avoid damage to the grass during concerts or events which is evident in Wembley Stadium. “They were our first customer in this product line, and we have a tremendous relationship with them, through our acquisition of the Terraplas line of products” Torres remarks.

Monster Motion Safety deals with products for “motion related” activities, such as vehicular and pedestrian traffic safety with the original range of wheel chocks, warning whips, beacon lights, and parking stops. Warning whips alert extremely large vehicles on a worksite that smaller vehicles are near. Torres mentioned that “Checkers is an authorized vendor for the US Military, as well as in Japan and supplies many of the major air carriers in the world, including Quantas, United, American and others”.

Company ethos

The firm’s overriding principle is to “protect people, assets and environment which is what drives our products and acquisition strategy” Torres says so we ensure the acquired products have a safety element to them to protect people and vehicles. “All of our ground protection products are essential to protect the environment from spillage, such as oil getting on the ground and also to prevent grass and turf being trampled on by heavy duty equipment, for example in stadiums where concerts are held. Many of our products are manufactured using recycled material, something we are very proud of” he adds.

Client base

The Checkers Safety Group sells solely through distribution to over 70 countries, and about one-third of their sales are international (in UK & Europe as well as Mongolia, Russia, India, Latin America, Japan and Australia). “Our products are pretty much all over the word so our client base is indeed global and includes major large distributors such as Grainger and Uline as well as local distribution partners in the countries we have a presence in” Torres details.

Approach to clients and people

An aspect of the firm’s strategy is the push-pull factor, in that they try to educate the end user about their products to create demand (that is the pull) and through their distribution base, they are supplying the products to the market place (that is the push). The three strategies of the company are:

• Sales growth initiative;

• Profit growth initiative and most importantly;

• People growth.

“If we get the right people and help them grow, then the first two elements on the strategy almost happen by default” Torres reveals. “Our team is therefore instrumental to everything that we do as a company, and they have been able to participate not only in the acquisition, but also in the seamless integration of businesses and aligning with the culture which has been very important to us” he adds.

On winning the award for the USA Industrial Industrial Deal of the Year for the Checkers Industrial Safety Products Inc. acquisition of Superior Manufacturing Group, Inc. transaction, Torres says they are proud of the award received and what the firm has achieved, and that it is very gratifying to have the efforts of the team here recognised.

Challenges for the future

The challenges in the future are the larger economic issues concerning the global economy, foreign exchange, “and the strength of the dollar is a challenge for us as we sell and produce a lot of our products in US Dollars” Torres reveals. “The price of oil and commodities in general affect some of our key market segments (mining, oil and gas), but because we are diversified in the industries we serve, that allows us to alleviate those issues because some markets are performing extremely well” he adds.

The key to the firm’s success, who have carried out around ten acquisitions over the last fifteen months, is that we like to think “our success is attributed to our awareness of the legacy of the companies and the brands we acquire. We tend to believe we are a friendly acquirer, and most companies we take on are happier after the acquisition than they were before. We really look for companies that have a good cultural fit for us as well as adding products that fit well within our product portfolio. We will continue to acquire companies and therefore grow through acquisitions, which is just one element of our growth strategy” Torres concludes.

Checkers Safety Group
Name: Ray Torres
Email: rtorres@
Address: 620 Compton Street,
Broomfield, CO 80020
Phone: 1 720 890 1187