In the late ’70s, Oliver Auston’s father started Checkmate Lifting & Safety in the United Kingdom, where it has grown and received numerous accolades. Auston started his industrial career with Checkmate and now presides as its managing director. Pure Safety Group (PSG) acquired Checkmate in 2018, and Auston’s role now includes the title of chief innovation officer for PSG. BIC Magazine recently sat down with Auston to learn more about Checkmate, PSG and how he plans to continue the tradition of safety product innovation with his team.
Q: What led to your position at PSG?
A: My father started Checkmate Lifting & Safety in 1979. This year we are celebrating our 40th anniversary!
I joined the company in 2001. Before that, I had pursued a few other career directions, education and personal pursuits, such as being an interior designer. When I finally “grew up” a bit, I started to get really interested in what my dad was doing. I started helping out at Checkmate, doing things like making tea and coffee and sweeping the floor. I guess you could say I literally started from the ground up.
Since then, I’ve worked in all aspects of the business — from product design and training to marketing and sales. I still dabble in all of these, including making a mean pot of coffee for the team, many of whom know much more than me about the industry.
That’s the team that has built Checkmate to the point of going truly global through our merger with U.S.-based PSG, which owns four fall protection companies in North America. When our companies combined, Checkmate became the global height safety innovation hub for the entire operation, given its history and track record of innovative products in the industry. Today, I serve as head of innovation for Pure Safety Group and managing director of Checkmate.
Q: What is the biggest news at PSG right now?
A: We are undertaking the largest collective product launch schedule in our history. Together with the other PSG brands, such as Guardian Fall Protection, we are in the midst of launching 20 new products into the global height safety industry in 2019.
Q: What is the most important part of your position?
A: Every day, I work with people who find new and better ways to save lives.
Now that Checkmate is a part of PSG, the world’s largest manufacturer dedicated to height safety, I know that, together, we may likely save the most lives of any company in our industry.
Q: What are your goals for your position?
A: My goal is to continue to innovate. The team at Checkmate has more than 70 patents to its name. PSG overall has an innovation portfolio of more than 160 patents for more than 5,000 height safety products. My goal is to help the company continue to advance the design, technology and efficacy of height safety equipment used throughout the world to keep people as safe as possible while on the job.
Q: What is a “fun fact” about you people might not know?
A: In 2011, I was invited to a reception hosted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, where Duncan Barrier, technical and quality manager, and I were able to meet the Queen and accept the Queen’s Award (Checkmate’s third) in recognition of one of Checkmate’s most innovative products: the Xcalibre fall arrest block, a device that has been proven to save lives of people who work at heights. Checkmate’s design team was inspired by the automotive industry and used the very latest aerospace materials to create Xcalibre.