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George Hayward: 35 Years and Counting

Who, in the safety industry, doesn't know George Hayward? Here at EHS Today, we count on him to keep us informed about the comings and goings of distributor reps, product managers, marketing professionals and everyone else connected to the business side of safety. George knows everyone. And George not only knows the safety industry, he's one of its biggest boosters.

George is president of United Sales Associates (USA), a group of manufacturers' representatives for producers of industrial safety products in the industrial safety, construction, sanitary maintenance and fire markets. Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA serves Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Western Pennsylvania and Western New York.

George started his career in safety in 1972 at Edmont-Wilson (now Ansell Protective Products) as a territory manager. He moved to Standard Glove (now Fisher Safety) in 1977 as a sales representative and became a sales manager at West Chester Marketing from 1979 to 1982. On Oct. 1, 1982, George formed United Sales Associates.

He also served as executive director of the Safety Equipment Manufacturers Agents' Association (SEEMA) from 1986 to 2001 and was that organization's first president. He currently serves as the director of District 4 and the manager of international development for the Manufacturing Agents' National Association (MANA) & VP EXcom IUCAB (International Union of Commercial Agents & Brokers

EHS Today decided to pick George's brain and find out what he sees as the trends and challenges facing the safety industry in 2008.

Keating: What safety product lines are hot in 2008?

Hayward: Gosh, lots! It depends on the industry type. Safety: Homeland Security, FR clothing. Construction: Fall protection, gloves, tempered water emergency eye wash, hazmat cabinets, high-end hazardous material suits, drug testing. Medical: hospital inflatable buildings.

Keating: With talk of a recession, are you seeing any effects yet on safety spending?

Hayward: Actually, not yet. We had an excellent 2007. Tax-based spending will hurt those jobs depending on it.

Keating: Now that OSHA finally has issued its standard calling for employers to pay for PPE, do you expect any effect from that?

Hayward: I believe more personnel will be in compliance with correct products coming from the employer. Dollar volume should increase as products will be supplied mostly by authorized distribution.

Keating: It seems more rep firms are branching into training and other services. Is USA getting involved in those areas?

Hayward: USA has been heavily involved in training for many years and continues to invest in this area. We currently own two vehicles specifically set up for on-site training, and they are regularly utilized. Each product category has its own support needs, and we see training or on-site assessments as being a primary driver of our success.

Keating: Do you see any nontraditional markets for PPE?

Hayward: We see nontraditional shifts of industrial products into retail sporting goods products. (i.e., football team logo'd hard hats, gloves, shoes, etc). Also, “brand” names (i.e., CAT) on boots or rainwear.

Keating: Do you have any concerns over quality of imported PPE products?

Hayward: YES! But, I believe, if sourced properly through real “brand” vendors, it reduces the risk of non-standard products.

Keating: What's new in United Sales Associates' print or online catalogs?

Hayward: We have several online catalogs on our Web site. [We have] “Value Added Directory,” “Utility,” “Fire Haz Mat” and “What's New?” so far. “Construction” is next…

Keating: United Sales Associates has memberships in many professional associations. Are safety association memberships a valuable asset for companies like USA?

Hayward: Obviously we feel trade associations, not necessarily just safety associations, are valuable to us as well as other rep agencies. In addition to the safety associations, we are members of several specific professional associations, also. Not just paying members, we are very involved with many of those associations. Why? To learn, to promote safety, to give back, to “pay forward” (Woody Hayes), to participate, to teach, to network, to support, to join in, to promote ethics, to benefit from programs … just a few [reasons] that come to mind.

Contact EHS Today Research Editor Mike Keating at [email protected] or (216) 931-9657 if you would like your organization profiled in OH EHS Today. We would like to profile safety equipment manufacturers, distributors, rep firms, trade associations or other workplace safety-related organizations.

United Sales Associates By the Numbers

The combined inside and outside sales force of 20 at United Sales Associates (USA) is complemented by a support staff of 10 additional employees. USA's sales team has more than 200 years' combined experience in industrial safety sales.

Sales Force by the Numbers

Average number of years with USA: 12 years

Average number of years in the industrial safety industry: 18 years

Average number of years in sales: 20 years

Average age: 46 years

Number of CPMRs: 4*

Number of CSPs: 1**

Number of QSSPs: 5***

* Certified Professional Manufacturers' Representative

** Certified Sales Professional

*** Qualified Safety Sales Professional


To become the ultimate resource for safety products in the distribution channel.


To provide maximum economic value added within the distribution channel.


United Sales Associates' business purpose: To attract and retain key customers (distributors), key principals (manufacturers) and key end users and personnel.


Committed to be the most successful marketing/sales agency in industrial safety products through various markets (safety, construction/industrial, sanitary maintenance and fire).

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