Coplan named president of Capital SafetyRed Wing-based Capital Safety is an industry leader when it comes to developing and producing safety harnesses and fall protection equipment — what people such as construction and highline workers strap themselves into to prevent falls while they’re working stories above the ground.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
Red Wing-based Capital Safety is an industry leader when it comes to developing and producing safety harnesses and fall protection equipment — what people such as construction and highline workers strap themselves into to prevent falls while they’re working stories above the ground.
The company’s headquarters is also home to a state-of-the-art training facility that brings dozens of the company’s customers from around the world to Red Wing every month.
But newly appointed president Kevin Coplan is concerned that local residents don’t always understand what his company does.
“We’ve done it to ourselves,” Coplan said. He added that people may know Capital Safety’s brands — DBI-SALA, UNILINE and PROTECTA — but do not recognize Capital Safety itself.
“We need to be more consistent,” the Red Wing native said.
Garnering more community recognition is one of Coplan's personal goals now that he is president of the company’s operations in the United States and Mexico. The promotion came after global investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P. bought the company for $1.12 billion in January.
“Kevin has been instrumental in our growth and success in the Americas. He is well-positioned to continue to drive and lead the U.S. and Mexico business forward,” Pat Velasco, newly appointed chairman of Capital Safety’s board of directors, said.
Coplan, who turns 45 this month, takes over for former President Joe Reimer, who left the position to take a seat on the board of directors.
Coplan began working for the company in 1986, just six months after graduating from Red Wing High School, and when Capital Safety was just a small, 25-employee operation.
Then he worked in the shipping and receiving department. Over the years, Coplan has been promoted to the customer service department and then to a sales position before moving up to vice president of sales six years ago.
“I’ve been very fortunate and given a lot of opportunities,” he said. “I took advantage of those opportunities.”
One of those opportunities, Coplan said, is being able to watch the company expand and grow. Currently, Capital Safety has 1,200 employees worldwide and has become a leader in the industry, outselling competitors Miller and MSA.
Under previous owner Arle Capital Partners, who purchased the company in 2007, Capital Safety doubled its revenues and expanded into international markets. Currently, the company has 20 sites around the world, including in Australia, France and South America.
That growth is a pattern that Coplan says will continue. “(KKR’s acquisition) affords us an opportunity to look at more acquisitions, more organic growth,” he said.
The company is focusing its efforts on Latin America, Coplan said, adding that Capital Safety bought a company in Bogota, Columbia, in June. Another focus is on the energy industries — oil, mining and gas — which often have a need for safety harnesses and other fall protection equipment.
And while the downturned economy has hit some industries, Coplan said it hasn’t really affected Capital Safety. In fact, he said tighter budgets have made companies more aware of on-the-job dangers and they’re eager to prevent injuries.
“We’ve been able to capitalize on that,” Coplan said.
Looking forward, the new president said he has no doubts about Capital Safety’s future revenues and the company’s ability to continue to hold the industry leader title.
“I’m very confident in our ability,” he said.
Oswald appointed CEO
Stephen Oswald has been named CEO of Capital Safety, the company announced today. Oswald has previously held executive positions for United Technologies Corporation and served as president of the Hamilton Sundstrand Industrial Division and the Sullair Corp.
Chairman of Capital Safety Pat Velasco touted Oswald’s “strong organizational and operations background” and his “high energy leadership style.”
“It’s easy to see why we are so optimistic about our future together,” Velasco said.
“Capital Safety is a growing company with a strong team making a difference in the area of workplace safety worldwide and I see unlimited potential in the future,” Oswald said.
Oswald will be based in Red Wing and will begin his new position overseeing Capital Safety’s global operations March 26.