Alpha Pro Tech CEO retires
Alpha Pro Tech, Ltd. has announced that itsCEO and co-founder, Sheldon Hoffman, is retiring as CEO and a director of the company, effective Sept. 21. The company is a manufacturer of products that protect people, products and environments, including disposable protective apparel and building products
"Shelly has been an instrumental leader and has done an exceptional job of establishing and growing our company from the ground up," said Al Millar, president of Alpha Pro Tech. "We are grateful for his innumerable contributions and his dedication, continuously serving our company and our shareholders as CEO and as a director for the last 26 years. It has been a privilege for me to serve alongside Shelly as a co-founder of our company, building it into the profitable organization that it is today, driven by organically-developed product lines."
Effective immediately, Al Millar will assume the role of CEO in addition to his current role as president. The board of Ddrectors expects to appoint a director to replace Hoffman in the near future.
Alpha Pro Tech, Ltd. is the parent company of Alpha Pro Tech, Inc. and Alpha Pro Tech Engineered Products, Inc. Alpha Pro Tech, Inc. develops, manufactures and markets innovative disposable and limited-use protective apparel products for the industrial, clean room, medical and dental markets. Alpha ProTech Engineered Products, Inc. manufactures and markets a line of construction weatherization products, including building wrap and roof underlayment.
The world of accessible design is full of jargon, making it a challenge for dealers to fully understand the products they sell and provide the right resources to customers. Accessible design can be even more confusing in the residential market, where codes don’t dictate how to accomplish it as they do in the commercial sector.
So how are you to know what is what — and how to point a customer in the right direction? The first step is to define what accessible design truly is.
Accessible design and universal design are often conflated. Universal design is the concept; accessible design is the tactic within the overarching universal design scope. More specifically, it is anything that can improve the space an individual moves through and interacts with. Accessible design enhances mobility and includes things like improving lighting access and reducing barriers.
A broad-based term, universal design covers everything that makes a space easier and more comfortable to inhabit, ranging from where a light switch is placed, to the toe kick in the kitchen, to how to deal with transitions from one space to another. Universal design encompasses the entire space — the whole environment. It’s about creating access for everyone.
What are the standards?
The lack of accessible-design requirements in residential construction creates its own challenge because there is nothing mandating consistency across all homes, products and designs. However, following guidelines and cues from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can help dealers and their customers create spaces that meet the needs of any customer.
ANSI is a nonprofit organization that sets standard requirements for various industries, allowing for accreditation. ADA provides Design Standards that offer recommendations for both new construction and remodeling. While ANSI and ADA are great places to start, the specifications are set for the masses and not the individual. Dealers have the flexibility to adjust material placement based on an individual’s needs and abilities.
Though neither is required in the home-building sector, some builders are meeting accessible design recommendations to differentiate themselves from their competition.
Another great tool is the National Association of Home Builders’ Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist program. To gain this certification, participants learn all the ins and outs of remodeling a home to meet an aging client’s needs — from design recommendations to selling tips.
Determine client needs
Once you understand accessible design best practices, next is determining what your clients’ needs are. The best approach is to characterize by three categories: immediate need, long-term needs and aging-in-place.
A person who falls under the immediate-need category is someone who experienced a sudden health event that changed the way they interact with their home. For example, a stroke or even a broken foot can drastically change how that person uses a shower.
Long-term need is for someone who has a health condition that requires specific needs now and into the foreseeable future. Someone with multiple sclerosis might always need a bench seat in their shower — not just today or when they age.
Aging-in-place is for homeowners who want to stay in their home as long as possible. An example of meeting this need is building a shower system with a threshold that can be removed if needed later in life and installing backing for future installation of grab bars.
Knowing your client’s needs will pave the way for more productive conversations. For example, if a dealer is speaking with someone in the 34-to-55 age group, they might not have any interest in discussing accessible design. Great question to ask: How long do you plan on staying in your home? Remind the homeowner he can have an environment he loves today that can also accommodate him in the future.
Be the expert
There are a few ways a dealer can stay up-to-date on accessible design. The first and most important: Know your market, ask questions and be credible. Familiarize yourself with ANSI and ADA standards, and consider earning your CAPS accreditation.
People need dealers they can trust. Be that person. Be an industry speaker. Be a leader. All of these will set you above your competition and help you know where accessible design is headed next.
Nate Jensen is VP channel sales, Best Bath (bestbath.com).