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PK Safety’s 75th Anniversary

Posted by PK Safety Team on Aug 08th 2022

A lot can change in 75 years. Take PK Safety, founded in 1947 by Eric L. Pedley and ship captain Josiah Knowles in San Francisco, CA. Back then, it was a Bay Area ship chandlery business under the name Pedley-Knowles and Company, but it would eventually shift into worker safety equipment and services.

Eric was a known tinkerer who ended up inventing extremely durable safety nets. From this invention would come Pedley Nets, a manufacturing and sales alliance in Glen Ellen, California, formed with his nephew Phillip Pedley in the mid-1950s. Through a patented manufacturing process on the practically indestructible nets, the two became prominent in the safety netting field.

They leased their safety nets to be used on high-rise buildings, bridge construction and maintenance, and even in children’s theme parks and playgrounds. You can still find Pedley nets underneath the Golden Gate Bridge and in amusement parks around the country.

The chandlery business continued with the addition of Eric A. Pedley (Eric L. Pedley’s son) and Mel Freeman in 1960. Eric came from Bethlehem Shipbuilding with expertise in ship mechanics, and Mel came from Tidewater Oil Company with expertise in and connections with the Philippine shipping industry, opening up a new market for Pedley-Knowles.

A big shift for the company came in the early 1970s. Between the formation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 1972 and the chandlery businesses declining with the adoption of containerized cargo, the company began to focus more on worker safety equipment. Eric A. Pedley’s son, Rick, PK Safety’s current president and CEO, joined the family business in 1979. In 1982, Eric L. Pedley retired, and the relationship with Pedley Nets ended.

The company relocated to Illinois Street in San Francisco. In 1996 Rick took over the company, shortened its name to PK Safety and relocated two more times: to Oakland, CA in 1996 and Alameda, CA in 2001, where we are today. A year later, the company’s first online store opened. In 2014, we were certified to start servicing products like gas monitors. In 2015, PK Safety turned toward third-party logistics systems to scale with faster fulfillment and delivery as well as shipping orders directly from manufacturers.

Today, PK Safety is one of the most trusted names in the worker safety industry. We’re not content to just sit with that status, though. We’re constantly looking for ways to improve, innovate, and bring you safer workplaces and equipment. In 2019, we launched GRIT, our own line of UL Classified flame-resistant (FR) clothing. These garments are durable, breathable, and comfortable enough to wear on and off the job site—perfect for the hardworking professional who needs their gear to meet or exceed the industry’s safety requirements at a great value.

Another major change in the last five years was the COVID-19 pandemic. The novel coronavirus changed how everyone lived, worked, and played and still has a major impact on our day-to-day lives years later. We added a COVID-19 category to our site where we carry hygiene products allow you to clean and disinfect the high-traffic areas in your workplace, high performance face-masks, hydrogen peroxide gas monitors, and other products that might play an important role in disinfecting against and preventing the spread of this virus. We maintained business continuity while adopting remote work arrangements and implementing the technology and communication to do our jobs well while practicing recommended social distancing.

So much has changed over the years and we’ve continued to evolve with those changes. But one thing that’s remained consistent is our commitment as “The Worker Safety Specialists” through outstanding customer service and industry knowledge. We have real-life safety experts who you can actually speak to. They receive regular training from the manufacturers of the products we carry and vet ourselves. We serve industries from construction and confined space to renewable energy to healthcare, and we’re proud to do what we do.

We’re so grateful for the 75 years of your support and look forward to serving you and all of your workplace safety needs for many years to come.

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