Case Studies

E.D. Bullard Company

Protecting Workers for Over 100 Years
  • Written by: E.D. Bullard Company
  • Produced by: E.D. Bullard Company

Edward Dickinson Bullard founded E.D. Bullard Company (Bullard) in San Francisco in 1898 as a safety equipment distributor for the gold and silver mines in California and Nevada. Bullard has since grown and diversified greatly, and has branched into nearly every aspect of the safety industry. Eric Pasch, president and CEO of Bullard, is leading the family-owned business and carrying on the family tradition with Wells Bullard, Edward’s great-great-granddaughter and director of marketing at Bullard.

“In 1919 my great-grandfather invented and patented the first commercially sold hard hat,” says Wells. “He had been in WWI wearing the doughboy helmets, and when he came back he wondered why the workers in the mines weren’t protecting themselves better against similar work hazards. He created the Hard Boiled Hard Hat by steaming, or hard-boiling, canvas, shellacking it and adding a leather brim.”

Although Bullard has been manufacturing hard hats since 1919, the first construction site to require use wasn’t until 1933 for the Golden Gate Bridge. “The lead engineer building the bridge, Joseph B. Strauss, was a big proponent of safety and knew my great-grandfather,” continues Wells. “They worked together to keep the bridge workers safe by requiring the use of Hard Boiled Hard Hats.”

Though the hard hats have been through many incarnations, Bullard still produces hard hats today. According to Wells, Bullard’s brand can be recognized by three signature ribs along the crown of the hat. Originally canvas and leather, the protective headgear has been made with aluminum and fiberglass before the current materials.

“Today we produce hard hats using high-density polyethylene plastics, which are strong, flexible, lightweight and chemically resistant,” details Wells. In addition, Bullard also produces respiratory protective systems that were originally developed during for the Golden Gate Bridge. “The steel had oxidized,” explains Wells. “They had to sandblast it before using it to build the bridge. My great-grandfather developed our first respiratory system for the bridge workers.”

Safety Measures

Hard hats – which didn’t become mandatory on jobsites until 1970, when OSHA was established – and respirators are technologies that Bullard continues to innovate upon and produce for workers worldwide. The company has introduced many products since the older days, including fire helmets that have been produced since the 1930s and thermal-imaging cameras, which have been in production since 1998. “We’ve carved out different niches in each of the markets we serve,” says Wells. “Our mission is to protect the worker in hazardous workplaces.”

Bullard offers several categories of protective equipment. The company’s product categories are broken down into head protection, body temperature management, respiratory protection, fire and rescue helmets and thermal imaging. The company manufactures all of these products at its facilities and headquarters in Cynthiana, Ken. With approximately 250 employees worldwide, the team sells Bullard products domestically and across the globe, with sales offices in Singapore and Germany.

Growth Opportunities

The company continues to reinvent safety equipment to provide the best protection for workers that surpasses industry standards. New products are rolling out consistently. “We’re about to launch a new sandblasting helmet, the GenVX,” she details. “We’ve recently introduced a new material for our face shields, Tritan, which is impact- and chemical-resistant for additional protection. We are constantly innovating to find better solutions to protect workers.”

Bullard’s thermal-imaging products continue to develop, as well. The products are popular in law enforcement and fire service; therefore, firefighters can utilize the equipment during search and rescue to see through thick smoke. Meanwhile, law officers benefit from increased surveillance, security and search capabilities.

With a full line of construction necessities and diverse capabilities, Bullard was able to manage the recession without any major issues. “As a privately held company, we are able to think long term,” says Wells. “In the downturn, we were able to develop new skills for our employees, making Bullard more flexible.”

The company’s overseas operation has also lessened the blow, and the team remains focused on global growth. “We’re still developing innovative products to protect people all over the world,” adds Wells.

Striving for worldwide growth, Bullard remains focused on providing the best protection possible for professionals in a number of high-risk fields. From construction to law enforcement, Bullard reaches a broad demographic. E.D. Bullard Company continues to lead the way for safety, quality and efficient manufacturing worldwide after 100 years of improving products.

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