BROOKLYN - Glenn Parlee and his family-owned business, Parlee Manufacturing, continues to expand their reach.
Glenn and his wife, Kathi started the business in 1985. Glenn was a recreation professional running adventure excursion in rural Nova Scotia and found it was difficult to find adventure equipment suitable. He enlisted Kathi, a seamstress, and they began to create their own recreational products suitable for excursions.
From recreation packs and equipment, emergency service providers were intrigued with the Parlee's recreational products and packs, and a new product line was born for service providers. Packs were customized to the meet the customer's needs.
These packs have been used for many years by EHS providers and aboard Lifeflight in the province and across Canada.
On May 19, at an open house event, they launched a new product, called the Versatile Integrated Pack System (VIP System), which gives customers the ability to customize the packs themselves.
"It is very exciting. This is a project that we have been working on for almost three years to get it where we wanted it and where it needed to be," said Glenn Parlee. "Each agency can now customize their product without us having to custom-make the product for them. The idea behind it is that it can be versatile and tailored to people's needs and now we're at the point where it's ready to go out."
The packs are hand-made out of strong and durable, 1,000 Deniera Cordura nylon fabric.
All of the packs have reflective materials which are replaceable, and they come with a PVC skid plate to protect the pack.
Parlee said one of the main features of the VIP packs, made with is the Velcro-sensitive material inside with dividers that can be changed to fit the particular piece of equipment as needed. All of the packs have reflective materials which are replaceable, and they come with a PVC skid plate to protect the pack. You can also easily change the colour on the front of the pack as well.
The packs also come with a 10G restraint system so whether personnel are carrying it in a helicopter or fixed wing aircraft or in an ambulance these bags can be anchored in any of these vehicles.
Parlee said the response to the new line has been "extremely good." Stating that being in the business for almost 40 years they have built some great relationships with local agencies who have helped design the product and tested it out.
Dale Trier from Waverley has been a paramedic since 1988 and a Critical Care Flight Paramedic since 1994, working for the air medical transport service out of a base in Halifax.
He has been using the new VIP system for one year.
"The new kit system gives us options that we have never had before, including the ability to configure them based on our needs and specific tasks or procedures," he said in an email. "They allow us to secure and protect critical pieces of expensive medical equipment without having to worry that we'll damage it."
He said they have different kits for different procedures carrying everything from IV pumps, ventilators, monitors, analyzer, medications and intravenous fluids.
"We're very happy with where we're at. We asked the questions of the people who are using it and what they need and what they want," said Parlee. "We also checked what's coming down the line in terms of regulations for what they have to carry, as we try to have a pack that once it's off our line is not obsolete immediately so we're building a pack for what's coming up, not what has passed."
Parlee products can be found on many EHS vehicles and air medical transports throughout the Maritimes.Right now he is looking at expanding more throughout North America, then possibly shipping to other countries.
With that expansion he is looking at adding employees and space which is something he will be "addressing in the very near future."
Parlee Manufacturing, right now, is run out of the back of his other business, Liverpool Outdoor Adventures. While many people may start slowing down after 37 years in a business, Parlee said they continue to look for ways to grow.
Along with the new product line, came a new focus on e-commerce.
"The way the business climate was one of the things that sort of made us make this change. We had started developing our product before COVID-19 hit," said Parlee. "That showed us a lot of people are interested in going direct."
He explained that in the past, a product would be developed, distribution channels would be set up, you would then have a representative that would go into retail stores who would sell to the consumer. With more people shopping online, there is more competition, and the next step had to be the way that products were priced.
He said that selling direct with the end-consumer allowed them to cut-out the middle man and be more cost efficient.
Making this move created another challenge, however.
"We can't do a custom product for everybody across Canada. It's easy to do if you are just in Nova Scotia. You get together with an agency once a month to look at their needs, develop a custom product and go into production," said Parlee. "It's a little more difficult when the distances are greater and through COVID-19 we couldn't travel. So when we were looking to launch this product we had to make something that was customizable, but not a custom made product and get it out of Atlantic Canada."
This is where Nova Scotia Business Inc. (NSBI) entered the scene.
"They were instrumental in helping us with the digital assets in terms of video, photography and developing the website so people could order product online," said Parlee.
"The website is up now, but it is a work in progress. I do think COVID-19 helped us to make the decision that if you want to get this product to a larger audience, we pretty much had to go direct and have a stronger e-commerce presence."
He said the answer to the other part of the "Why now?" question is "none of us our getting younger, so if we're going to make the move, now is the time to do it. We felt this product was one that we're very proud of. We also feel there is a definite need for this product that crosses over different industries. So now is the time and we're happy that we took the time to make take it where it is now."
The company employees nine full-time workers including Glenn, Kathi and their daughter Caitlin and is located just outside of Liverpool on Trunk 3 and they share space with their other business, Liverpool Adventure Outfitters.
Article by Kevin McBain, reposted from LighthouseNow!