Do you have a design problem? Technical issue? Training requirements?
Bringing in a trusted consultant is often the best and quickest way to solve challenges in today’s complex workplace.
“It’s important to make the whole machine turn efficiently,” says Erin Buckland, vice-president and co-founder of IFR, an aboriginal-owned company based in Red Deer, Alberta. They manufacture a full line of flame-resistant workwear that is sold across Canada and in parts of the U.S.
“We all go through bumps and hurdles, and it takes a team to make it work.”
Buckland reached out to Lelia Lawson in her position as research and development specialist at DTS due to her knowledge of safety standards.
“It’s great to lean on her expertise and higher level of experience so we can do our job better and support the end-user better.”
IFR has been buying reflective trim from Davey for more than 10 years, so they already had a good relationship with DTS. When they needed to bring some staff up-to-speed on safety standards, it was the perfect time to bring Lawson in as a consultant.
“Some were just starting out and some had more experience,” says Buckland.
“It solidified the group and brought everyone up to a high level.”
What Buckland appreciates most about Lawson and DTS is the approach they use in consulting.
“It’s like a team. It’s all a collaboration to make it work better.”
Forming a bond
Lawson spent two months on the project with IFR in 2016, visiting them twice a week during the time of the contract.
“They’re a great company. A lot of questions and answers occurred when I was there. It was good to have those questions because sometimes you don’t realize challenges people face.”
Lawson says it really helped her to meet the IFR staff in person and now they’ll call her directly with questions.
“We formed a bond and it’s really nice.”
Lawson is one of four people at DTS who work as consultants.
She says they don’t always have the answers immediately at hand, so consulting can also help DTS in its own work of producing high-visibility trim for workwear.
“We do a little bit of investigative work,” says Lawson. “Sometimes it leads to product development.”
For example, a company in Mexico was developing a line of denim safety garments. Their indigo dye was bleeding into the colourful reflective trim, so DTS developed a trim that won’t pick up the dye.
“It’s a give and take with clients. We’re helping them get stronger and more efficient, and we’re doing the same with our processes.”
Lawson and Dan King, vice-president of production, research and development at DTS, were recently in Detroit to do some consulting for Carhartt, which involved mentoring on industry standards. They are currently developing plans to go visit the IFR workwear manufacturing facility to see what DTS might be able to do help in the production process.
Consulting services at DTS include:
- Technical consulting for clients and their customers;
- Assessments of product applicability and appropriateness;
- Development of product specifications;
- New product research and development;
- Analysis of textile problems, such as defects or laundering issues; and
- Evaluation of product conformity to standards, regulations and requirements.
“We also help with garment design, offer different ways to manufacture the garment to make the process more efficient, and possibly add some design features to make it unique or stand out in the marketplace,” says Lawson.
“All of us here (at DTS) have a very diverse background.”
Burak has a unique background in garment design and pattern drafting. Renaud’s experience is more in fabric manufacturing and weaving.
Consulting work is an ongoing part of the DTS culture, says Lawson.
“It encourages us to stay on top of trends, manufacturing techniques and development of new fabrics. It ensures we maintain our expertise in the marketplace.”
Consulting gives Lawson new challenges and she appreciates the opportunities.
“It’s nice getting a change of scenery. It’s an adventure.”
Barb Wilkinson is a freelance writer and editor based in Edmonton