An Ohio-Based Company is Protecting First Responders Around the World

With support from JPMorganChase, Fire-Dex is providing protective equipment to firefighters in 100 countries and all 50 states. 

April 3, 2024

When Fire-Dex started 40 years ago, it produced one product: leather gloves for welders. Today, the Medina, Ohio-based company manufactures head-to-toe protective gear for first responders and firefighters around the world.

The architect of that transformation is Fire-Dex owner and chairman, Bill Burke, who joined the company in 1984 as a salesman. Over the years, he’s grown the company’s offerings to include an array of jackets, pants, boots, hoods and other firefighter gear. And Burke takes tremendous pride in making products that “protect the protectors.”

“It’s a great feeling,” Burke says. “Our work helps protect first responders, who are saving somebody else’s life. It’s a very brave and courageous career to be a first responder and to be able to participate in that is key to our success.”

Support for a Global Vision

JPMorganChase has helped fuel much of that success by providing Fire-Dex with capital, treasury services, merchant processing and more. The two companies started working together in 2007, when sales at Fire-Dex were about $10 million. That number has since soared to more than $100 million.

“JPMorganChase has always been there for us. I can’t say enough about their willingness to work with us and help us grow,” Burke says.

Much of the growth at the family-owned company has occurred organically, by winning contracts to serve some of the nation’s largest fire departments. But acquisitions also have played a major role.

With capital support from JPMorganChase, Fire-Dex purchased a helmet manufacturer and built out sewing operations in Georgia and North Carolina to expand its production capacity. Another acquisition brought the patent for an advanced fabric that supplied the foundation for a new line of lightweight firefighter turnout gear. The company also assumed Gear Wash, which cleans and repairs protective garments across the country.

Matt Gausman, an Executive Director at JPMorganChase Commercial Banking, handles the day-to-day banking relationship with Fire-Dex. Over the years, he’s worked with Burke and his team to help make their global vision a reality.

“They’re great people,” Gausman says. “They’re doing incredible, life-saving work, but more than that the Fire-Dex team treats everyone with respect. Their values align perfectly with ours.”

Hometown Heroes

Wherever it operates, Fire-Dex makes a positive local impact. In the small southern towns where it has acquired sewing factories, Fire-Dex has hired scores of people, helping to boost local economies. In its home city of Medina, the company employs 175 people and recently expanded its headquarters. In total, Fire-Dex has more than 800 employees across all of its locations in the U.S. and Mexico.

“All our facilities have a mantra to give back,” Burke says. The company donates equipment to fire departments that have lost gear in natural disasters. Fire-Dex is also a long-time contributor to an organization that financially supports families of fallen safety officers.

On the business side, Fire-Dex’s future is bright. The company plans to remain family-owned and operated, and innovation will remain at its core.

“The larger you get, the harder it can be to grow your company,” Burke says. “But we still see tremendous opportunities for Fire-Dex, both domestically and internationally. We’re excited about the future.”

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