Panda Post

Panda Post 22


It’s the Holidays again. The stressful time of year when there’s too much going on, always a plate of fattening cookies in the break room, and when Frank from accounting gets a little too touchy feely at the office Christmas party. (No offense to accounting departments – it’s a joke.) We here at the Panda Post would like to wish all of you the best during the Holiday season. Even Frank.

You’d think after doing the overnight delivery gig for centuries, that Santa would be more careful about safety. Ice cleats from our friends at Due North? Nope. Fall protection for those slick roofs? Not for this jolly (but careless) old elf. Hi vis gear for Santa and the reindeer? Nothing but bright red, jingle bells, and Rudolph’s nose…hardly ANSI approved. Kris Kringle qualifies for most safety directors’ naughty lists. There’s a reason Santa’s exact whereabouts at the North Pole aren’t known. OSHA has to find you before they can fine you.

Panda Post 21


I’m back. Just in time for Thanksgiving, the perfect time to remember what you’re thankful for (personally I’m grateful that the ink I’m drawn with is permanent) and to gear up for Christmas.

First off, some Thanksgiving safety tips to make sure your holiday is a safe one. The tips are nice reminder during a holiday that combines knives, hot ovens, and the possibility of eating turkey cooked medium rare (not recommended by chef Bamboo).

Video of the Month

Not only have we come a long way with safety products and regulations in the last decade or two, we’ve clearly advanced significantly when it comes to safety training videos. Case in point, this beauty from a few years ago. Sadly, most of the accidents graphically portrayed here actually appear less painful than having to listen to the song playing in the video. Earplugs are highly recommended to drown out the caterwaul that passes for singing. My ears are bleeding.

Road Work Stimulating Wisconsin

“Road construction” is right up there with “root canal”, “undercooked chicken” and “I do”, on the list of the most dreaded two-word phrases. But, quite a few folks in Wisconsin don’t mind road work at all. Stimulus money has created a couple of big construction projects in Dairyland, including one in Madison. 001cc4c03286.html

Algae Isn’t Reserved for Ponds and Pools Anymore

Green energy will certainly create some strange products and jobs in the next decade or two. Algae as an alternative fuel source is a good example. That’s right, the green stuff that floats on the top of the half-empty pool at a cheap motel just might power your car soon. Here’s hoping we don’t evolve to the point where we’re creating nuclear powered green algae men bent on taking over the world.

People Dig Safety Specialists

Safety specialists are in high demand, kind of like iPads and Ford Fusions (seriously, look around, Fusions are everywhere). If you’re already a safety engineer do a happy dance after reading this report from the ASSE about the demand for occupational safety experts over the next few years. If you’re looking to make a career change, read it and a cartoon light bulb should appear over your head (or maybe that just happens to me).

eProduct Focus

Ice Traction Devices: Icy Slip and Slides are No Fun

If only they made ice cleats for car tires, this ugly (but kinda funny) scene wouldn’t have played out. The folks driving these bobsleds, err, cars need to have the security provided by Yaktrax Pro, DueNorth traction aids, and Ergodyne Trex Traction devices. Pick one, prevent icy slips and falls and consider it tailbone insurance.

Panda Group’s New Digs


Sorry that it’s taken so long for another Panda Post. But we’ve been busy here.

On September 1, we at Panda officially moved our world headquarters a few miles down the road to a nicer, newer office. The arduous process (packing, loading, unloading, unpacking, repeat) was largely carried out by company VP Todd Hoffmeister and his pickup truck. We’ve still got a few odds and ends to tidy up, but we’re settling in nicely.

We brought everything but the kitchen sink, largely because we didn’t have one at the old space and the new spot comes with one, which was a big deal for the Panda staff. The new office doesn’t come with the poor ventilation system that routinely made us sick at the old location (black lung shouldn’t be a hazard in the safety marketing industry).

Feel free to stop by and we’ll give you the tour, highlighted of course by our shiny new sink.

We have one of those addresses that just boggles the mind… here goes:
Panda Group Inc.
N56W16743 Ridgewood Drive, Suite 300
Menomonee Falls, WI 53051
(Me-No-Money) as Todd likes to say.

Jobs Recovery: Slow but Steady

We all want new jobs to come flooding in and make recession recovery nice and easy (yeah, and I want to win the lottery and date Betty Boop). But Rome wasn’t built in a day, and to add another cliche…slow but steady wins the race. An article by CNN says jobs recovery is slowly happening. Patience is a virtue (cliché no. 3).

National Safety Congress

Do you really need an excuse to head to San Diego in early October? If you do, then this year’s National Safety Congress & Expo from October 3-8 is it. Learn about sun tan safety, yachting safety, safely observing perfect weather, etc. I’m kidding of course. The yearly event is a perfect place to learn about the latest in safety (but the fact that it’s being held in lovely San Diego doesn’t hurt).

Is Your Workplace as Safe as These? Not Likely.

NSA announced a few Safety Leadership Awards in August. Getting on the list doesn’t require bribery…it’s much more difficult. Those recognized have amassed five consecutive years without an occupational injury or illness resulting in lost employee work days or death. Five years?! I can’t go a day without stubbing my toe. Hats off to these companies and their employees. And man, Steris Corporation is one safe place to work.

Safe Driving Means No Texting

Some people are lousy drivers even when their full attention is on the road, but most of us become lousy drivers when we’re distracted by a using a cell phone or the greasy cheeseburger we have to eat while on the road. According to Occupational Health & Safety, OSHA is mounting an anti-texting initiative. Keep an eye on the road and save the texting for the boring weekly meeting.

Green News

Is helping the environment as easy as painting your roof? Maybe. Get into the roof painting business. It just might be an up and coming industry.

From Panda Black and White to Green

One of our favorite Panda alums ventured off into the world to follow her lifelong calling of installing wind turbines. Maureen Faller, and husband Randy, traded in desks and computers for scaffolding and turbine blades and founded Kettle View Renewable Energy in 2009.
Kettle View has been busy, putting up 20 turbines for everyone from private users to schools. Stimulus dollars, and excellent climbing ability, have been helpful to the Fallers.

“The 30% Federal Investment Tax Credit is one of the available incentives that ‘make’ a sale,” says Maureen. “The Investment Tax Credit makes renewable energy projects financially feasible by lowering the payback on the system by as much as 10 or more years. Energy independence becomes a reality, not an unattainable goal we may not live long enough to see.”

The Wisconsin landscape is becoming increasingly dotted with Kettle View turbines. While, we’d rather still have Maureen at Panda, we’re glad she’s out there doing something for the environment. I’m afraid of heights so there’s no way in heck I’d climb on a 100- or 200-foot turbine. I’ll watch and applaud the efforts of the Fallers safely from the ground.

A Urine-Powered Battery?

Sometimes it’s not such a good thing when things get too green (and I’m not talking about cheese or when white bread turns to greenish mold). This comical list shows some green inventions that might be a bit much. I personally prefer the urine-powered battery.

BP Stands for Bad Practices


I’ve got no good excuses for my lengthy absence. No “dog ate my homework” (I don’t have a dog), “had a flat tire” (cartoon cars don’t have real tires), or “I was sick” (ink doesn’t get the flu). But there’s a whole lot going on in the safety industry (ever hear of BP?) and I figured now was as good a time as any to make it back.

BP is Not a Friend of Bamboo

Despite my occasionally sarcastic tone, I take safety very seriously. Clearly our friends at BP do not. A scathing report printed by ProPublica and The Washington Post shows that BP is pretty good at ignoring safety concerns. It’s too bad that consumers can’t reciprocate by ignoring their price at the tank, but BP has to make money…they’ve got mounting fines to pay and lawsuits to settle.

News of the Obvious

Tony Hayward, the CEO of BP (and the guy currently on at the top of the “Least Liked Men in America”) mentions that in light of the LARGEST ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER in U.S. history, his company will reassess safety technology needs for deepwater drilling. Umm, Tony, it’s a few weeks too late.

High-Vis Vests Are Sooo 2009: Lanyards Might Be the New Thing

OSHA is set to improve worker protection from workplace trips and falls on walking-working surfaces. OSHA is a safety trendsetter, so fall protection equipment like lanyards may soon be as popular as shows and movies about vampires.

Hurricane Season and I’m Not Talking About Miami University Football

Hurricane Season kicked off on June 1 and doesn’t end until November 30 (which believe it or not is actually shorter than the NBA season… yikes). Preparation for the least favorite season for residents of the Atlantic Coast includes stocking up on PPE and emergency response safety equipment. (Some also stock up on tequila and ice when the big storms hit, but that’s not at all recommended by the Panda Post.)

The GDP Is Slowly Rising. Ask the Tortoise About Slow but Steady

A less-than-ideal jobs report in May wasn’t the best economic news, but there is a bright spot. The GDP rose a little more in the first quarter.

…And “Help Wanted” Signs Are Popping Up

A few months ago the Help Wanted sign was in the same category as the California condor, newspapers, and Lindsay Lohan’s acting career—all on the brink of extinction. But April job openings rose to the highest level in 16 months. Good news for the unemployed, a group that may one day include Lohan.

Festivus, Food Safety and OSHA


Happy Holidays to my loyal readers. I’m a big fan of Christmas, mainly because I get to wear this cool getup, and also because it’s an especially busy time for my cartoon brethren. Charlie Brown buys his crappy tree every year, Frosty melts, and the Grinch steals Christmas (even after the heart expansion incident he’s still a bad dude and he has awful breath). Enjoy the vacation time and consider this lighthearted Panda Post my gift to you (I didn’t have shirt sizes for all of you so this will have to do).

Quick Christmas video tips from the Fresno Fire Department. The FFD apparently has a sense of humor.

A Christmas Video Bonus!

It is the season for giving, so I’m giving my loyal readers another informative safety video. This one illustrates exactly why it’s essential to pay attention when driving a forklift. Disclaimer: No one was seriously hurt (or I wouldn’t show it), although several bottles of vodka paid with their lives.

Holiday Food Safety

There’s nothing like a little foodborne illness to ring in the holidays. Be careful what you eat at your family gatherings because some foods can ruin your yuletide glee. Aunt Gertrude’s fruitcake is an obvious offender, but there are more common offerings that can put “blah” in your Fa La La.

Festivus: The Wagner Companies are Making Poles for the Rest of Us

Sometimes fiction just makes sense. This isn’t one of those times. But I’ve got to hand it to the Wagner Companies (located right here in Milwaukee) for finding a new product to manufacture and sell. Wagner is a leading maker of Festivus Poles. That’s right, the bare aluminum poles introduced to a lucky America by Frank Costanza in a 1997 episode of Seinfeld. If you want to order one to make your holidays complete go to The poles are made of 100% recycled material. Need more Festivus info? For more Festivus info check out the hilarious instructional video on the website.

Top 10 Ways to Get Coal (Courtesy of OSHA) in Your Stocking

Those who work around scaffolding are the most likely to be on the “naughty” list, at least according to OSHA’s list of the Top 10 Safety Violations of 2009.

Stricter Enforcement of OSHA’s Naughty and Nice List in 2010

I’ve got some good ideas for New Year’s resolutions—eat less candy, don’t swear, no more ranch dip. But here’s one that’s good for everyone reading this…make sure you’re in OSHA compliance. An article by shows that there’s an increase in OSHA enforcement funding on the horizon. Apparently OSHA’s resolution is more enforcement.

Could Ergonomics Be Trendy in 2010?

I’ve got a gut feeling about a few things that might be hip in 2010. You can tell everyone that the Panda Post told you that hybrids, earth tones, cow flu, Taylor Swift, the Apple i(insert word here), and Velveeta will be big this upcoming year. Safety News Alert had this insightful bit about ergonomics likely seeing an uptick, and they’ve actually got the reasoning to back it up.
BPA and Sexual Dysfunction, Now It’s Serious

There have been plenty of studies hinting that BPA might be unhealthy (disregard the research paid for by plastics manufacturers) but now it’s gone too far. This NIOSH-funded study linked BPA to male sexual dysfunction. Does BPA scare you now? You bet it does.

Halloween Safety, Stimulus and Safe Walking


Ahoy mateys. In the spirit of Halloween I’ve donned some pirate garrrrrrb. Because I’m a cartoon, it’s pretty easy putting together a costume every year… I just have my graphic designer draw me differently. Here’s hoping for a good fall (the season, not the act that requires a lanyard) for all of us in the safety industry.

Now this guy knows how to carve a pumpkin. He uses power tools, a post hole digger, and kerosene (Disclaimer: We don’t advocate using kerosene in your Halloween display…but it looks pretty cool). Be sure to wear safety glasses if you try the power tool approach to pumpkin carving. Cut–resistant gloves wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

Halloween, Not an OSHA Holiday

Absolutely nothing about Halloween screams (pardon the pun) “safety”. Take a look at the horror legends whose film work is celebrated at this time of the year. Leatherface (the dude in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre) clearly needed a course on chainsaw safety. Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees were oblivious to the term “cut-resistant”, and there’s no way that those hands of Freddy Krueger are OSHA compliant.

These guys aren’t acting as safely as they could. But if you’re getting this newsletter, you probably know a thing or two about safety, and you can make sure your family adheres to safe Halloween practices with some handy Halloween safety tips from EHS Today.

All You Want to Know About Stimulus Money, but Were Afraid to Ask

And now for a little light reading. The first major reports from the Recovery Act were released in mid October, and if you’re willing to dig a little you can find out exactly what’s going on in your state.

Stimulus Redux

Stimulus money isn’t all road paving and bridge building. Check out the massive Lockheed Martin contract for example. And the numbers listed aren’t necessarily set in stone. According to an article by the Louisville Courier-Journal, some of the feds apparently aren’t too hip on where state lines begin and end. Maybe a crash course in geography is a good idea.

What’s Hot?

H1N1, N95 Respirators, and Vampire Movies

What’s Not?

Avian Flu, Wall Street Bonuses, and Jay Leno

Leave it to the CDC to provide the most comprehensive guide to surgical masks and disposable respirators I have ever seen. Unfortunately it reads as dry as toast, which isn’t a shock. Spoiler Alert! One of the morals of the story is to buy N95 respirators…if you can find them.

SCBAs Tested by the USFA

Firefighters are tough characters. I think we can all agree it’s good to keep them as safe as possible. The USFA (United State Fire Administration) is testing the safety of SCBAs , and some big changes in the respiratory safety industry might be on the horizon.

A Close Call

At least one sewer worker New Hampshire can thank an OSHA inspector for not being in deep sh….well, you’ll get the idea after reading this article from Occupational Health & Safety.

Volume 14


Welcome to another edition of the Panda Post. I’ll start this one with another video feature (followed by the regular journalistic stuff). There are some damn good safety videos out there on the web (some legitimately informative, and some just plain funny).
I’m no safety engineer. I’m just a cartoon journalist. But I can say with a fair amount of certainty that this video shows a workplace that does not comply with OSHA.

Get to Know the Flu, Before it Gets Up Close and Personal

Flu season is just around the corner. And with the expected spread of the H1N1 (aka: swine flu, piggy flu, bacon-wrapped influenza) it’s a good idea to learn everything you can about virus basics, and be prepared. The CDC has a great H1N1 flu site that provides everything you need to know. And the government has also set up a handy site with guidance on workplace response to the upcoming flu season. Companies should stock up on hand sanitizer, hand soap, nitrile gloves, etc. And at the risk of sounding like your mom, “Wash your hands!”. Frequent hand washing can help stem the spread of the virus (besides it’s just plain gross not to wash after a trip to the bathroom or before you eat).

Smokey Bear Turns 65

On August 10, the USDA Forest Service celebrated the 65th birthday of Smokey Bear (I assume that any candles Smokey failed to blow out were extinguished properly). We at the Panda Post certainly respect Smokey. Hell, the hairy dude’s an icon. But he’s not the only bear out there trying to make the world safe. The Panda Safety Bear has been spreading the message about PPE, safety equipment and the like for nearly 14 years. If Smokey decides to retire any time soon (he is 65 after all), the Panda is ready to take up his role. We’ve been working on our catchphrases and deep baritone delivery… “Only you can prevent workplace accidents.”

(Mainly Positive) Economic Bullet Points

Page past the blurb about Maysteel closing it’s plant and you’ll find some good news from BizTimes. I like to see the phrase “strong signs of economic recovery” from time to time. Recovery is a good word.

Safest Workplace? Clearly It’s the Chemical Weapons Plant

At first glance this headline struck me as odd, “Chemical Weapons Destroyer Named One of Nation’s Safest Worksites”. I would guess places like a pillow manufacturer, feather dying plant, or a felt hat maker would corner the market on safe workplaces. But I guess if you’re in charge of destroying old chemical weapons (stuff so potent that it might kill you for just looking at it) there’s no margin for error.

Here’s an Idea, Let Workers Choose a Respirator

(Although the accompanying photo is not a suggested respiratory practice.)
Workers are the ones that have to endure wearing respirators or other cumbersome PPE every day, so why should a safety engineer be the one choosing what they wear (other than of course to protect the bottom line)? Grant Rowe, a respiratory protection product manager for Bullard wrote an insightful article for ISHN about letting employees do just that. Let workers decide on what they wear all day (within reason, obviously hot pink leggings, a boa, and a fedora with a feather in it wouldn’t go over well in a machine shop). And let safety professionals choose the catalog workers order from (may I suggest a Panda catalog?)

Honoring Billy Mays


I’d be remiss not to start this Panda Post by honoring Billy Mays. The ultimate pitchman, who passed away in late June, could sell water to a drowning man, and we at Panda Group were big fans. I have a special place in my heart because he was as close to a cartoon as a human can get (I mean that in the best way). I will never look at OxiClean the same way again.

But wait! Now, just for reading this article, we’re going to throw in this video tribute. Absolutely free!

A Healthy Workplace is a Happy Workplace

We’re all about good news at the Panda Post. The National Business Group on Health applauded 63 large employers for being “2009 Best Employers for Healthy Lifestyles” by actively improving the health and well-being of employees. So, try to limit company pizza days, exchange the Krispy Kreme’s for fruit (jelly-filled doughnuts don’t count), get Tom in shipping and receiving to walk around the warehouse a couple of times a day, and maybe your company can make this list. You want that AED on the wall to be nothing more than a hi-tech dust collector.

Capital Safety Stimulus: This Company “Gets It”

Three cheers for the good folks at Capital Safety, who recently unveiled their own bit of stimulus—a price reduction on a range of DBI-SALA and Protecta fall protection equipment. Now, that’s doing something to try to help during an economic downswing (“downswing” being an understatement akin to calling Jaws a rather large fish). Check out Capital’s stimulus manifesto, which includes a list of the products being discounted. Click here to find out how to promote this on YOUR website!

Saving Money on PPE

What’s the best way to save money on PPE? Not buy any.

Ha… I’m kidding (a bit of bad safety industry humor). We all know that PPE is as essential to the workplace as mozzarella is to pizza, or losing is to the Detroit Lions.

On, Ansell’s Mike Kimberley explains some ways workplaces can cut down on PPE costs. I know that safety distributors may think that helping customers reduce PPE costs is like making firewood out of a money tree. Instead, look at it as an opportunity. Show customers you know how to help their bottom line and their loyalty may pay off in the long run.

Hot Green Jobs in 2009

In the not too distant past the words “hot” and “green” were likely used together only when referring to green chile salsa. Things have changed. has a list of “10 Hot Green Job Industries” that everyone associated with the safety industry should keep an eye on. It’s time to learn that Advanced Biofuel isn’t a deluxe cheeseburger, and realize that the “Smart Grid” isn’t the name given to Harvard’s graduating class. These up-and-coming industries need safety equipment too.

Electrical Workers are Goin’ Green

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) is apparently ready for green jobs. The IBEW has set up a “Working Green” website to update electricians everywhere about renewable energy jobs.

Hip Hop Safety, Yo

A few weeks ago Panda Post showed a less-than-subtle German workplace safety video. This week “get your safety on” with this decidedly American safety video.

With lines like, “sport a hard hat, and you’ll look real phat”, who wouldn’t want to get all decked out in cool PPE?
Despite extensive research (aka: Google) this reporter couldn’t find additional info about this strange clip.
But whoever Gail and Tim (I like to call them G-Love and T-Bone) are, they make way better safety videos than others I’ve seen. Vanilla Ice can’t hold a candle to these two, and it’s doubtful he knows as much about trips and falls, or “phat” hard hats.

Panda Anniversary 2009


Imagine a fiery young redhead, trudging out to her car after losing her job, a box full of her desk contents under her arm. She has no job, no idea of what to do next. All she has left is her prized Sylvester and Tweety desk clock. While fumbling for her keys, the woman, we’ll call her Kellie, drops the desk clock. Sylvester’s tail breaks off and Tweety rolls helplessly under her car.

“Ah sh#t…Tweety broke,” she says before picking up the pieces and driving away.

A few hours later the phone starts ringing with well wishers. One of those calls is Krikor Topouzian from Ani Safety. Krikor, hearing Kellie now has some free time, wants her to do a brochure. 13 years later, Panda is still at it (although Kellie has never been able to replace that clock). The next call came from Nancy Woltzen, now working for North Safety, but at the time she was Kellie’s supervisor at Lyons: “You’ve escaped The Rock! I have someone you have to meet. Her name is Jill Will of Cameron & Barkley and she needs your help.” And finally the call from Stuart Southard of Care Supply (now Care Safety) who said, “Kellie, we want to get into safety and I hear you can help us, come on down, we need to talk.”. And so it began.

Panda Timeline

  • May 1996: Kellie “leaves” a job at Lyons Safety with big dreams, a broken Sylvester and Tweety desk clock, and not much else.
  • (Later that day): Kellie and husband Todd create Panda Communications in their house on Milwaukee’s northwest side. Todd begins a long summer of writing safety copy in the sweltering attic wearing little more than boxers, a t-shirt, and a smile.
  • June 1996: Panda starts work on a Bloodborne Pathogen brochure for ANI Safety. Kellie and Todd celebrate by eating more than just Ramen noodles that month.
  • July 1996: Kellie lands the Cameron & Barkley catalog. Life is good.
  • August 1996: Panda moves into an office in downtown Milwaukee’s LoDuca Building. Cue the theme from “The Jeffersons”.
  • January 1997: Panda starts building its massive content Database, which is still growing today and will become self-aware and take over the world in 2012.
  • February 1997: Kellie creates thinking that a buying portal for both sellers and buyers is a great idea. The concept has a hard time catching on in safety, but worked out just fine in other industries (ever heard of Amazon or eBay?). Catalog production ramps up with Gann Safety, Balco, and Libra Safety all using Panda.
  • March – December 1997: A busy year for Panda. Custom catalogs for Gann Safety, Balco Supply, Libra Industries. Kellie will never forget how she got the Libra job. Bill Maki calls her to Chicago. In he walks, donned in a beagle mask, talking like a beagle and telling her “anyone who worked for Bill Thompson has my respect and business”. Bill taught Kellie the lesson of the value of handshake and keeping the lawyers out of negotiations. The deal? “Kellie, you do this catalog for me and I will pay you. I promise”. Deal!
  • Sometime in 1997: SEDA comes a calling. Bob Dool of Mid-Continent scouts out Panda and convinces the SEDA board to let Panda present its services. Kellie rushes to Chicago to make a presentation. Wearing jeans and casual shirt, and hair up in a clip, she arrives at a swanky hotel (“Yikes, suits are in the lobby, this could be serious”). Oh well, with a stack of catalogs and recommendations a mile long she presents to the SEDA board. SEDA accepts Panda as their “official marketing company”. Panda pays for the shrimp buffet at the SEDA conference that year.
  • Sometime in late 1997: Keith Skipworth from Safety Source, in Mobile, Alabama calls Panda and begins the six-month process of talking Kellie into doing a “generic catalog”. “Have you ever heard of the Washington Tool Catalog?” Keith asks. “You can do this Kellie, I can’t afford to do my own catalog, but if you do this I bet you can sell this to other safety distributors. In fact, I have a buddy over in Florida, Richie Reggiani of Colonial, he wants a catalog too. We can share the costs.” Kellie thinks, “Oh great, two for the price of one. Typical distributor!” After six months of monthly phone calls from “Skippy”, Kellie decides to try, but on one condition: Panda remains the product manager (can’t have too many cooks in the kitchen). Let Kellie do a catalog the way she knows how. Too much involvement from the distributor equals never getting a catalog actually produced.
  • March 1998: Panda creates Version A1, the industry’s first generic safety catalog. With the 160-page beauty Panda changes the industry and creates a new market. A1 is Panda’s First Edition and limited collector’s item copies are available for $1,000 at the Panda Gift Shop. Mark this down, this was the month and year that the first “generic” syndicated catalog was created in safety. It caused quite a stir, but appears to be a popular concept after all.
  • September 1998: The first controversy begins at Panda. One vendor threatens to sue Panda because they appeared in a Panda catalog possessed by unauthorized distributors. Another big vendor wanted to only be in “certain catalogs”. One problem, vendors never paid anything to be in the Panda catalog. All content was created by Panda and it printed thousands of books. Distributors love the catalog. The vendors? Well, they eventual change their mind, realizing that this might be a good thing for them. (Can you imagine such a thing today? Man, have things changed!)
  • April 1999: Kellie launches the first syndicated Panda website. A few years later customers realize that the whole Internet thing just might catch on. In the process Reliable Safety gets a $250K website for peanuts… it’s nice being a beta. The next beta is Minnesota Glove, who Panda has to this day. (Thanks Bob!)
  • Sometime in 2000: It’s a blur. Panda is the most popular girl at the prom. Version B is born (a spin-off of A1) and sold to Safety-Wear and others, and more custom catalogs. Cameron & Barkley is back and Panda quickly progress through the letters of the alphabet for generic versions.
  • March 2001: The Panda Bears Never Sleep: SEDA and Panda continue and catalogs just keep a coming. Panda launches CD-RO project. As soon as it launches, the “internets” became a hot topic. CD-ROM out, internets in.
  • April 2002: The LoDuca Building goes condo. Panda gets kicked out and moves operations to the suburbs. A bigger space, but the view sucks.
  • March 2004: Panda completes its largest custom catalog. The 1,600-page behemoth, requires Panda employees to clean 500,000 part numbers. The project, completed in just nine months, proves that the Panda team is: a.) capable of anything, and b.) glutton for punishment.
  • January 2007: Panda’s ecommerce program becomes to safety websites what Google is to search engines. Kellie refers to it as the “overnight” ecommerce success that took more than eight years to achieve and cost a fortune. Todd asks, “Do you think this ecommerce thing is ever going to pay off?”
  • December 2008: Panda completes its 52nd generic catalog, Lucky E13. Like every Panda catalog before it, E13 is the coolest generic catalog in the industry. Panda also continues making first-rate custom catalogs, brochures and website.
  • March 2009: Panda Productions begins creating product and promotional videos. The Panda staff considers moving to Hollywood. Kellie begins wearing Ray Bans at work and starts overusing the phrase, “My people will call your people.”
  • June 2009: Panda enters its 14th year in business. Kellie still has big dreams. But now she also has an office, loyal customers, and an extremely smart and attractive staff.

Panda Group, This is Your Life

1stDozens of people were instrumental in the early success of Panda. One of the biggest was the dude at Best Buy who extended Kellie her first line of credit, but the Panda Post couldn’t track him down. We did manage to find a few people who were just as important.

Krikor Topouzian called Kellie hours after she “left” Lyons Safety and asked for help making a small brochure. It was Panda’s first gig.

“I called Kellie and the timing was perfect,” said Topouzian. “She had just been escorted out of her old job and was contemplating the injustices of the world. What an opportunity for both of us. Kellie got her first job and I got top quality work and excellent individual attention. Kellie and I have always shared our points of view honestly and directly over the years. Like magic, Kellie has always come through for me, even when I have not requested her help. I am glad that I found Kellie as a friend and a partner in business.”

Jill Will needed someone to coordinate a large custom catalog in 1996. She was introduced to Kellie by Kellie’s mentor, Nancy Woltzen of Lyons Safety, and entrusted a young Panda with the project.

“I met Kellie and we talked and I really liked her and respected her instantly,” said Will. “What a mind and the way it continues to work…good grief! Kellie came to Charleston (S.C.) and met with product specialist Doug Williams and me. She understood what a catalog should look like. She is a very good friend and a loyal associate. She never knew the words ‘it’s impossible’ she always finds a way.”

Blame Nancy Woltzen for Kellie’s entry into safety. Woltzen took a chance on girl from the restaurant industry and hired her to work at Lyons Safety in 1994.

ss“She was a good fit with the culture at Lyons and she had the personality to deal with what was a rather erratic and chaotic environment while still doing great work,” explained Woltzen. “(She’s managed to survive in the industry because she has) perseverance and is constantly reinventing her business model.”

Keith Skipworth should be considered one of the founders of the generic catalog. His young company, Safety Source Inc., needed a catalog and other distributors were in the same boat.

“We couldn’t make a catalog ourselves and we talked to others in the industry that had the same obstacles,” Skipworth said. “We thought, ‘how about producing just one catalog and we all share in the expense?’”

Kellie took a few weeks of convincing, but eventually the Panda generic catalog was born and the safety industry changed significantly.

“A lot of people listen to ideas, but not everybody runs with them,” added Skipworth. “Kellie is good at what she does, and to this day she still looks after the distributor’s best interests.”

The Evolution of the Safety Catalog

Safety Catalog BP (Before Panda)
A1, The First Generic Catalog
E9, Panda Just Gets Better
Safety Basics, Another Innovation
E13, So Cool It’s Scary

Panda Finds Product Zero

Product 0Panda’s massive content library has thousands of different safety products. But North’s MS86 Metal Lockout Hasp will forever be remembered as Product No. 1. This little red beauty was the first product added to our content database. The best part? It’s still a valid part number. We applaud your longevity MS86, and you will always be Product No. 1 in our hearts.

Panda Productions – Video!


It’s been a while since the last Panda Post so I’ve stuffed this one full of all sorts of safety tidbits. The exciting development of Panda Productions’ video business is a definite highlight. I personally am hoping that Panda opens a live-action cartoon division. I’ve always had the acting bug, and it would give me a chance to appear in the same frame as Betty Boop. I’ve always had a thing for her…but what ink-blooded male ‘toon wouldn’t?

Panda Productions Gets the Cameras Rolling

Spielberg, Scorsese, Lucas. Sure those guys have created some good films and raked in mountains of cash. But Panda Productions has made something none of them have…some really cool product videos for Master Lock. Take that, Francis Ford Coppola!

Yep, the folks at Panda Group are now in the video production business. Their 23 short videos have earned raves from the experts—sales professionals at Master Lock—who are decidedly more credible than Roger Ebert or Gene Shalit.

The Panda Post gained access to the two stars of the Master Lock videos, Left “Lefty” Hand and Right “Righty” Hand.

Abbott and Costello, Ben and Jerry, and peanut butter and jelly—the well-manicured onscreen team of Lefty and Righty is destined for the stardom of other famous duos.

“We’ve been working together for as long as I can remember,” explained Lefty. “He’s my right-hand guy.”

Added Righty: “The only acting we’ve done was when we tried juggling bowling balls after a dare at a college party. It didn’t go well. But we have chemistry, and whether we’re tying shoes, swinging a golf club, or typing, we mesh pretty well. Although Lefty’s handwriting sucks.”

The pair’s acting on the Master Lock series videos is extremely deft, bringing to mind award-winning work done by “The Thing” in the Addams Family, the talented cast of several Palmolive commercials, and the curvaceous digits sporting cubic zirconia rings on the home-shopping channel. That’s high praise.

“We’re exact opposites, his thumb is on the other side of his hand,” explained Lefty. “But we’re still a team, and I wasn’t bothered that he got more air time. He’s the right hand, and right hands always get the breaks. Do standard scissors work for us lefties? I rest my case.”

Said Righty: “I won’t let the fame go to my head, mainly because I don’t have one. We put our gloves on five fingers at a time, just like everybody else.”
The two plan to continue working after a short hiatus involving several manicures and a strenuous workout routine that includes squeezing stress balls over 100 times a day.

Training Videos of the Slasher Variety

Panda’s approach to training videos is subtle, informative and to the point. This German forklift safety video is on the other end of the spectrum. Think of it as OSHA meets Friday the 13th. It starts of slow but the heads start rolling (literally) about halfway through. It’s ridiculous, macabre, and hilarious, all at once. Apparently this forklift driver was a bad hire.

Glut of Goods: Great for a Buffet, Not So Good for a Warehouse

The recession has done its part to stall sales and leave warehouses full of products waiting to be sold (“Bad recession! Go to your room.”). The Wall Street Journal reported in April that the stockpiled “glut of goods” was easing (good news but it sounds a little like a gastrointestinal issue). MCR Safety’s Safetyline newsletter offers some excellent safety industry insight, and safety product previews, for both Gloves and PPE. Read carefully because MCR mentions the phrase “price instability”, which when translated into distributorspeak means “good deals”. Help with the glut, step up to the buffet.

Is Economic Recovery Creeping Up?

Murphy’s Law states, “The light at the end of the tunnel is usually the headlamp of an oncoming train.” What a downer that Murphy dude was. According to Industrial Distribution Magazine, there might actually be a flicker at the end of our economic recovery tunnel. Industrial Distribution also pointed to great news about a slight rise in factory orders in February.
Be optimistic, but keep an ear open for the sound of the train whistle…just in case.

May is National Electric Safety Month

Without electricity there’d be no Christmas lights, no Jumbotrons at the ballpark, no refrigerators for storing beer or month-old lunch meat, and we wouldn’t have a TV on which to watch “American Idol” (some good would come out of a electricity-free world).
Electricity is cool, but it can be more than just a little dangerous. The Electrical Safety Foundation International created a short brochure to increase electrical awareness during the spring construction rush. Now’s a good time to get contractors charged up, plugged in, or amped up (bad puns of the week) about electrical safety.

GFCIs: A Special Panda Post

What better way to celebrate National Electric Safety Month than by singing the praises of Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters? GFCIs are as essential at the jobsite as traffic vests, fall protection harnesses, and Port-O-Lets. So it is with great pride that we name Tower’s Right Angle GFCI Plug and Triple Tap as our first-ever “Workplace Equipment of the Month”. The GFCI (also known as part number 30334008) was unable to give an acceptance speech. He’s currently plugged in.

Go to Top