Tom Votel, President and CEO of Ergodyne, has announced he will retire on December 31st, 2023, capping a distinguished 40-year career that saw the company burgeon from a pioneering start-up to an innovation and creative leader in industrial safety.
In 1983, while the world was dazzled by moonwalks on music charts, record-breaking TV show finales, and the first mobile phones, Ergodyne was pioneering a revolution in workplace safety. After countless fits, starts and stumbles, Votel transformed the company from humble beginnings to its status as a passionate, worker-centered force with an impressive track record of countless ground-breaking innovations within the safety industry—many of which marked the beginning of entire new safety categories.
An unrelenting voice for worker safety, Votel has not only played a leadership role at Ergodyne but has also been actively involved with ISEA (the International Safety Equipment Association), the organization responsible for setting standards for safety equipment and technologies to protect workers in hazardous environments as well as influencing U.S. safety policy.
"In the safety products industry, we talk a lot about differentiation," said ISEA President and CEO Cam Mackey. “Tom Votel, however, is more interested in what we have in common, and how we can help one another. His uncanny ability to build a community around shared passion and purpose has made ISEA, our industry, and worker safety better for all."
Votel recently served as the board chair, where his influence in advocating for safety product standards has been consequential.
His vision, however, extends beyond mere compliance and product features, embedding a culture of innovation within the fabric of the company. Ergodyne’s revolutionary branding and creative approach stands alone in a very traditional market. “We march to the beat of a different drummer,” said Votel, “and we’ve stayed true to that successful ideal for four decades.” From product design and packaging, tradeshow booths, and ergodyne.com to their distinctive and disruptive communications and "intergalactic" headquarters—it all bears the brand’s unique and recognizable style.
Votel's leadership not only saw Ergodyne's rise from a fledgling start-up to a model of corporate resilience, but also, a seamless transition to new ownership in 2018 when the Ergodyne brand became part of the Klein Tools family of companies as an independent business unit. “It has been a very successful transition and has developed into a strong and collaborative partnership,” Votel shared.
With Votel’s departure, Greg Schrab takes on the role of President after 29 years of service with Ergodyne, most recently as Senior Vice President of Operations and Product Management. "It's a bittersweet moment, but I leave knowing Ergodyne's future is bright with such a capable team at the helm," Votel added.
Schrab is joined by a veteran leadership team that includes Vice President of Sales Jeff Bazal, Vice President of Marketing Lindsay Herda, Chief Financial Officer Anne Raskie, Associate Vice President of Operations Bret Snyder, and Associate Vice President of Product Tim Gallant.
“I'm honored to lead such a great team, and I’m excited for what's ahead," said Schrab. "Our product pipeline is robust; our team is strong—and our mission will continue.”