What do you do? 

We are a proven, trusted distributor of safety supplies for avoiding occupational injuries, minimizing exposures to workplace hazards, and preventing infection, all while optimizing cost performance. From the initial discovery call, to product consultation, sourcing and delivery, we are with you every step of the way.

Our biggest clients are the State of California, the State of Minnesota, and then Veterans Affairs. There is legislation in place that determines what percentage of government contracts are awarded to veteran-owned businesses.

What inspired you to start your business? 

While serving in the Marine Corps, I was injured in a training accident which eventually forced me to medically retire. I made it my mission in life to ensure that others aren’t hurt at work through a career in Occupational Health and Safety. I am a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) and also completed a master’s degree in Public Health (MPH). I saved up some money and when the time was right, I resigned from my Safety Engineer position at 3M. I then took some classes through the SBA and signed up with SCORE for a mentor.

What's special about your business? 

We are the only distributor that I know of who has a safety expert on staff with both an MPH and CSP. This expertise allows us to advise customers of the best equipment directly, rather than going through the manufacturer. 

What have been the high and low points of being a business owner? 

One of the biggest challenges I faced was waiting three years to hire my first full-time employee. Thinking back, I would’ve hired that person on day one. Waiting was not efficient, but I had a lot of fear around it.

A high point for us was last year when we received a contract with the state of California to supply 250,000 pairs of safety goggles for California’s frontline healthcare workers in response to COVID-19. When the original supplier was unable to provide the goggles within a suitable time frame, we conducted a global search for manufacturers of safety goggles that would meet the State of California’s stringent safety standards. A local company, Blenders, and non-profit organization, Direct Relief, were able to provide support and guidance to help Black Box Safety get 250,000 safety goggles manufactured and delivered to the State of California in rapid time. Blenders and Direct Relief provided this aid free of charge and required nothing in return.

What have you learned from your experiences as a business owner? 

I am a steward of cash flow and keeping a close eye on capital. This requires someone to be very disciplined, which I am no stranger to.  

Anybody who wants to start a business can’t have any reservations, as it requires your full commitment. It is also beneficial to know what your weaknesses are before you start. 

What is your relationship with SCORE? 
SCORE client
What influenced you to seek help from SCORE? 

I was researching resources online to acquire as much knowledge of starting a business as possible. SCORE was one of the resources that I found and I immediately signed up for a mentor. 

How SCORE helped. 

Joe provided a thorough review of my business plan and encouraged me. He helped me identify gaps and held me accountable for my business plan. Joe was someone who I could check in with in order to keep me on track. He encouraged me to look outside of just Veteran Affairs, and to think in terms of a bigger and broader client-base.

What's great about my mentor? 

Joe was willing to go above the call of duty. He was flexible to meet at convenient locations and he was very sincere in his desire to help. 

What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting a small business? 

Take all the free SBA and SCORE classes that you can and sign up for a SCORE mentor. Network with your friends, family, and acquaintances to try to find an accountant and attorney as they will keep you out of trouble. Also, don’t fall into the trap of paralysis by analysis. Start selling right away. When it comes to expanding your workforce, hire smart, highly capable people. 

What would you tell a fellow business owner about SCORE? 

There’s nothing to think about. The sooner you reach out to SCORE the better. Be prepared and on time for meetings with your mentor. Listen and be grateful.

Top photo: Black Box Safety team 

Bottom photo: Jackson next to company vehicle and office building

Black Box Safety Team
Black Box Safety Logo

My Mentors