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Meet Aaron Conway of Mezzanine Safeti-Gates in Essex

Today we’d like to introduce you to Aaron Conway.

Aaron, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’ve been in this business for over 25 years, but my job after graduating from Northwestern University was a daily news correspondent. I was a reporter for a daily newspaper, The Valley News out of Lebanon, NH, and was just getting by. My father, James Conway, had been in the material handling business for many years before starting Mezzanine Safeti-Gates and needed help with sales, so he asked me to go to a trade show with him. I have never looked back from there, and our company has been steadily growing and adding to our line of safety gate products for industrial facilities ever since. I purchased the company about five years ago, and it is still a family business I’m lucky to have my father, one of my brothers and an uncle working with me.

Has it been a smooth road?
Owning a business is never completely a smooth road – in my opinion, if it is all of the time, you are likely doing something wrong.

In the beginning, one of the biggest challenges was educating the market about the need for a dual-gate safety system. At that time, most companies were just starting to build up, and used chains to “secure” ledges where employees were working and at risk for falls. Those chains created tripping hazards, and were often left open. We had to really work on educating safety managers on how our gates worked, that they would not impede on operations and that they were truly better than anything they were currently using. Over the years, industry organizations have created standards to help that education process, and the industry has a much better understanding of safety needs.

Other challenges have been from competition. When you invent something, you expect copies; it’s important to keep watch and make sure you continue to innovate and stay ahead. Some of our patents have run their course and we’ve seen many companies copy our designs but we’ve been able to make steady improvements to our existing gate models and engineer new designs to stay ahead of the competition as best we can.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Mezzanine Safeti-Gates designs and manufactures safety gates to provide fall protection in the material handling, distribution and manufacturing industries. We’ve been in business for 35 years and created the first dual-gate safety system, the Roly® safety gate.

Our safety gates provide fall protection for employees working at height – that could mean a mezzanine or other elevated platform, pallet drop areas, pallet flow lanes, production platforms, loading docks and dock lifts…anywhere that is raised over three feet in a facility provides risks for falls and injury. Our customers are mandated by OSHA to provide fall protection for employees on these types of elevated work platforms, and our safety gate systems protect employees working in these areas and meet those regulations, as well as ANSI standards and IBC codes.

We’ve designed our safety gate models to fit specific applications in a wide variety of industrial environments – from manufacturing facilities with hostile environments to distribution centers with automated picking and everything in between. Our customers are located throughout the globe and span virtually every industry.

We have a robust line of safety gate models, and what sets us apart is our custom designs. Our engineering team excels at designing safety systems in areas where our standard models don’t work for some reason. Some of those custom designs have become standard models in our product line, like our Dock-Lift gate that was originally designed for a national grocery store chain.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Boston is a great city for business; there is a lot of energy and talent in and around the greater Boston area, even where we are in Essex. Throughout the greater Boston area, there are many resources businesses can use, whether you locate a business in the city or outside of Boston. Talent is everywhere, and it seems that as the university student’s graduate, they are also moving to other locations in the state, so we’re lucky to have a diverse population.

On Cape Ann where we are located, there is a resilient business community; many companies have gotten started here and businesses often start here, grow the business for a few years and then look to find a bigger space. That can be an advantage for businesses starting out, as it’s often a bit easier to find commercial space outside of the city — the greater north shore also has a lot of mill buildings that have been converted into commercial property.

But, there are a few drawbacks too – traffic is pretty rough, and the high cost of rent for both commercial and residential property is very high.

My advice to a company starting out, especially in manufacturing, is to find a location that will provide you easy access to the resources you need and that will allow you to eventually expand without having to move within the next year. Budget for more than you think.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Mezzanine Safeti-Gates, Inc.

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