01.04.04

Product consolidation sparks innovation by Howard Leight and Bilsom

-- Focus on earplugs by Howard Leight and on earmuffs by Bilsom generates prolific product development

-- Combined efforts reveal new direction for hearing protection technology

Smithfield, RI -- The recent consolidation of Howard Leight and Bilsom hearing protection products under the umbrella of parent company Bacou-Dalloz's Hearing Safety Group is already generating new products and innovations, a company spokesman claimed. Under the consolidation, which took effect in mid-2003, earplug products were shifted to the Howard Leight brand and earmuff products went to Bilsom. Since that time, the companies have developed dozens of new products and are changing the direction of the industry.

"This consolidation is really about moving the technology forward," said Bill Sokol, VP Strategic Marketing for Howard Leight and Bilsom parent company, Bacou-Dalloz. "Hearing protection is rapidly evolving beyond just blocking noise. We're moving to a more sophisticated approach using devices that are more comfortable and user friendly, offer multiple attenuation levels, and are targeted to specific work environments. With Howard Leight focusing exclusively on plug design and Bilsom engineering other hearing safety tools, we can take best advantage of emerging material technologies and help advance the science."

"What we've been able to do in combining these product lines," Sokol explained, "is take the best from each and make them better. Plus, we've been able to incorporate some dramatically new designs and technologies to develop totally new products. As a result, Bilsom is now shipping some 18 new products and Howard Leight will soon have more than a dozen."

"But the important thing is the shift in emphasis that has resulted," Sokol went on. "For some time we've had the technology to block as much sound as possible from entering the human ear. What we are now finding is that we need to block sound selectively in different environments, and that we need to develop products that block noise while allowing or even enhancing communication."

Sokol cited several examples including Howard Leight's new Matrix earplugs and Bilsom's new ClarityNoise Filtering acoustic technology which screens harmful noise while allowing the human voice through. Matrix plugs, which are based on a revolutionary new dual-density foam construction process, also provide selective screening, are easier to insert and more comfortable to wear than traditional plug designs, and are available in three attenuation levels for different applications.

Howard Leight's product line includes a wide range of single- and multiple-use earplugs, detectable earplugs and banded earplugs in a variety of shapes, materials and acoustic designs. The Bilsom line covers the entire earmuff range from noise blocking and sound management earmuffs to radio and radio communication earmuffs.

"This is a very exciting time for us," said Sokol. "After thirty years of working to develop the highest NRR products possible--and succeeding--we're now finding that this is just the beginning."

Since its beginnings as a one-man operation more than 30 years ago, Howard Leight Industries has grown into one of the largest manufacturers of in-ear protection in the industrial market and is widely recognized as an innovator in protection and fit. Bilsom was founded in Sweden in 1968 and leads the industry in developing innovative sound management technologies that are used in some of the most challenging environments in the world. Both companies are part of the Bacou-Dalloz™ Hearing Safety Group, a world leader in hearing safety.


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