Protecting the Head, Hand, and Body of Workers

RONCO
Written by William Young

Personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacturer and solutions provider RONCO of Concord, Ontario proudly serves Canadian customers nationwide and other customers across the globe, including the U.S., Israel, Romania, Costa Rica, China, Australia and more. The company began operations in 1996 with only a single item in its catalogue: synthetic disposable gloves. Today, it sports an expansive and comprehensive line of PPE products for multiple industries.

RONCO primarily serves the Canadian market while maintaining teams in China, Bangladesh, Malaysia and other manufacturing facilities in the east. The company works around the clock at peak efficiency and has successfully leveraged its position in the market to retain customers. President and Chief Executive Officer Ron Pecchioli defines the company’s identity today as protecting the “head, hand, and body,” of workers when it comes to working safely in today’s workspaces. In addition to workers, the company is also committed to protecting the end-user as well as the processes and applications themselves.

Quality has always been a cornerstone of the company’s business approach. Ron credits this focus to the employees and the work ethic they bring. The workforce provides a consistent quality product and aims to bring it to Canada and worldwide in a cost-effective manner.

Director of Marketing and Global Quality Vani Kshattriya adds that the work ethic is what helps separate RONCO from the pack. “A lot of other companies in PPE will undercut distributors or sells to users directly… We stick to a business model where we create customer partnerships because of the ethics and integrity in the way we do our business.”

This approach has led to long-lasting relationships with its clients, with some relationships even as old as the company itself. Vani praises the work of the company’s overseas teams as they frequently aid in transforming PPE solution ideas into physical products. The workforce worldwide is also responsible for fast and efficient response times, a key reason why customers keep coming back.

The company’s identity also lies in how it is regarded as one of the leaders in product innovation and development in PPE, a role it secures by finding existing gaps in the market and meeting those demands. RONCO keeps close ties with its distributors and focuses on the relationships cultivated with them; however, the market gaps are understood through communication with end-users, as the company works toward finding solutions that best serve all involved.

While Ron feels that every industry needs PPE solutions, he identifies the healthcare, food, and industrial markets as three that could especially benefit from protecting workers, users, and the product/process itself. From food workers using hairnets to factory workers using gloves, RONCO provides simpler products for everyday work and highly specialized products for more complex applications like pharmaceutical, hospital, or automotive manufacturing workplaces.

Indeed, the company has seen a marked boost in PPE use across the board since the advent of COVID-19 in 2020, with many non-traditional markets seeking solutions and customers at all levels becoming much more educated in using PPE.

RONCO is a partner in McMaster University’s Center of Excellence in Protective Equipment Materials (CEPEM), a collaborative effort to bring innovation to product offerings and new technologies to bear on the development of products to increase efficiencies and provide better protection and comfort.

In 2021, the company also opened a new mask manufacturing plant in Woodbridge, Ontario, with the ability to produce three types of masks: two types of N95 masks and one type of surgical mask with three levels of protection (ASTM Level 1, 2 and 3). RONCO used the unprecedented circumstances of COVID-19 to branch out even more than before, with continuing positive results.

Ron touts the familial atmosphere of RONCO as having brought the company to the prominent status it enjoys today. Vani further adds that many of her colleagues in the company have been there for the twenty-five years the company has been active, and that much pride is taken in the simple things around the workplace because it is considered a home. Above all, the workforce believes that they are in a business that makes a difference.

During the early days of the pandemic, the teams came together and worked day and night to supply frontline workers with materials and keep them safe at a very uncertain time. “We didn’t have to force people to work; in fact, I had to kick people out!” Ron laughs. Protecting the workers of Canada gave the workforce a great deal of pride.

Top-driven culture has ignited dedication in the employees, something that is visible every day in words and actions. Employees truly feel like part owners in the business because its success is important to everyone.

Many challenges still exist for RONCO and other companies navigating the PPE space. There is currently a degree of volatility within the market as many businesses face supply chain issues, while conflicts like the current war in Ukraine add further uncertainty.

After the pandemic began, many companies entered the PPE market but did not have a strong understanding of it. This led to these outfits purchasing products with less attention to quality and safety standards. The market has since come under more control, but a lot of pressure has been created due to lower-quality products and less buyer confidence in PPE as a result.

Vani sees the industry as very fragmented right now, with multi-national players sharing the stage with established companies like RONCO and smaller businesses as well. This fragmentation has increased the need for companies in the industry to become self-sufficient and continue growth, a priority which can be helped by Canadian customers choosing PPE products manufactured domestically.

RONCO remains a recognizable industry name with a proven track record and hopes to eventually become self-sustaining. The one guiding principle that has remained true since day one is that the company wants to grow in Canada and promote made-in-Canada products to those who need them.

An upcoming milestone for RONCO will be the opening of an additional Chinese factory in June of this year to produce non-woven products, like coveralls, lab coats, and shoe covers. Vani emphasizes that Canada is still the company’s main market, and the pandemic refocused its energies on its home country as it was felt to be its responsibility.

The company is once again exploring more sales opportunities in Europe, the Middle East, the United States, and China, and plans for further expansion are back on track. RONCO has even returned to the global stage through international trade shows to show off its products. The company will also be expanding its new line of sustainable products called RONCO Earth; currently, the line consists of a nitrile examination glove that biodegrades faster in landfills.

In the past twenty-five years, RONCO has been lauded for its efforts in PPE by publications, industry associations, and even the government of Ontario. “There are very few companies in the PPE space making a difference like we are,” Vani says. Ron believes that a company is only as good as the people it has, and the people and quality on display at RONCO continue to prove that to this day.

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