Standing out

Finalist
Specialty Products and safety

Led by Chairman and CEO Bill Burke, Fire-Dex stands out from the competition with its outstanding service and delivery of firefighting protective clothing.

The company began as a division of National Safety Apparel in 1983, manufacturing welding gloves before expanding its line. Entering the business of manufacturing firefighter protective clothing was a gamble, as the two companies that lead the industry each have more than 100 years of service, giving them an edge in experience and established relationships.

The leadership at Fire-Dex realized that in order to compete and grow in a small niche market, its products and services had to be of a higher quality than those of its competitors. That commitment to high standards has helped Fire-Dex average double-digit growth each year for several years, raising its position to third in the industry with approximately 15 percent of market share.

Fire-Dex links the company’s continuous improvement efforts to individual employee performances through profit sharing. In addition, associates are encouraged to participate in the company’s Opportunity for Improvement program, in which employees can offer sustainable improvement suggestions related to quality, safety, cost, productivity and work environment. Since the inception of the program in 1997, Fire-Dex has received more than 3,000 improvement suggestions and implemented 70 percent of them.

Core values are another important part of promoting high performance at Fire-Dex. The company’s values include honesty, excellence, accountability, empowerment and fun, and those values are reviewed monthly in a meeting with all associates. Additionally, Fire-Dex has incorporated the values into annual performance evaluations, as Burke and his leadership team believe that evaluating employees on value adherence has a much larger impact than simply posting the core values on a wall.

Burke attributes his company’s growth to employee involvement as much as to innovation or any other factor, and it is the biggest reason why Fire-Dex is able to serve customers better than its competition.

How to reach: Fire-Dex, (330) 723-0000 or