“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” – Loren Eiseley
Water-play looms large in the collective Canadian psyche. Perhaps it is because we are a nation rich in water with over 31 thousand freshwater lakes & rivers covering almost 8% of our country. Or perhaps because we have the longest coastline of any country in the world.
Whatever the root, our nation’s passion for water-play inspired the humble beginnings of Salus Marine Wear Inc. In 1999, in the basement of his home in Waterloo Ontario, Steve Wagner designed the first Salus PFD, focussing on comfort, quality, function, style and attention to detail.
Today, the small Canadian manufacturer services paddlers, sailors, active families, and rescue professionals in Canada and around the world with its award-winning PFDs. Known as an industry innovator, Salus’ patented PFD designs have garnered industry accolades and international attention. That said, innovation in design is not the only thing that sets Salus apart.
Almost every Salus PFD is made in Canada, in a century old refurbished warehouse in Kitchener Ontario. Using the same attention to detail and quality that earned Salus its reputation as an industry leader, each PFD is cut, assembled and sewn by Canadians who take exceptional pride in their work.
In the increasingly competitive international landscape, a commitment to keeping manufacturing jobs in Canada comes with a challenge. Not only do Canadian manufacturers have to compete with low-cost manufacturing facilities in Asia, but as more companies move their facilities offshore and the domestic supply chain dwindles, North American made fabrics and components become difficult to source.
Being a Canadian manufacturer has its benefits too. Quality control is immediate: from materials to workmanship, addressing potential problems occurs within minutes, not days. Further, Salus’ commitment to environmental responsibility is easily monitored and maintained. Committed to the “reduce, reuse, recycle” model, Salus first employs energy and resource efficient methods of production, then invests in re-use projects for the by-products of production, and finally sends the balance of “scrap” materials into recycling programs rather than sending them to landfill. The idea is to avoid waste to begin with and then to find creative ways to turn potential landfill into useful products, a practice that is virtually impossible to monitor with off-shore production.
Quality control, environmental responsibility, creating jobs for Canadians: all are reasons to be proud to be a Canadian manufacturer. For Salus, the most important reason to manufacture in Canada remains the people. From worker to customer, from paddling enthusiast to champion sailor, people are the inspiration for Salus’ designs, innovation, and commitment to staying true to their Canadian roots.