Chris Hardy: Determination and Success from the Heart of Scotland

Chris Hardy

Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to have enjoyed every aspect of my career, through a seemingly never ending range of diverse experiences. Living in some of the most beautiful and culturally challenging places in the world I have learned through business and success the importance of being totally committed to what interests me, the job in hand, what I do and how I do it and the results that can be achieved.

I have always been fascinated by all aspects of engineering. Following an aircraft engineering apprenticeship when I first left school, I worked on onshore pipelines and on offshore oil jacket construction as well as managing fleets of tower cranes and construction equipment throughout the UK and overseas.

I was born in Australia and was lucky enough to travel as a child with my family across the globe and then subsequently with my own family, (my wife and two daughters) living and working in Europe, Hong Kong, Singapore, West Africa, New Zealand and Australia, before finally settling in Scotland.

It was through my previous work that I became heavily involved in powered access equipment, working at heights of 200 metres and more.

In such circumstances safety is more than a buzzword – it literally is the difference between life and death. During this time, I became increasingly involved in industry safety and served on various committees representing the UK, resolving EN Standards for the safe design and use of access and transport platforms.

My interest in safety and how engineering can provide practical and respected safety precautions has led me down a new route – and my first steps into entrepreneurship. Whilst working with aerial platforms, a market segment evolved where this equipment on road vehicles was required to cross challenging and virtually un-navigable ground conditions to erect and maintain overhead power lines and mobile phone masts.

Whereas conventional use of portable roadways was very expensive, track conversions proved to be an economic way for existing equipment to be used with little or no adjustment making better use of capital assets.

Consequently, in 2007 I set up Supatracks, a distribution company for the world’s leading manufacturers of this technology and have supplied products worldwide. Based in the heart of Scotland the products offer a solution for the growing demand for low impact terrain access. Using this expertise, the Supatracks portfolio has expanded further, now distributing EZ down tailgate dampers, LiteGuard ATV roll over bars and Best Grip tungsten carbide tyre and boot studs.

Following this continued growth and aligned with my lifelong interest of Formula One and Super Bikes, I became attracted to motorbike rider safety. Whilst at an exhibition in Milan with one of our track suppliers. I met with Fabio Colombo, the Italian designer of Motoairbag. Not only was I impressed by the protection these inflatable safety jackets offered, but Fabio’s passion and dedication to an amazingly high level of product quality control was inspirational, and struck a chord with my own values.

As the manufacturer of the only certified BSEN conforming inflatable safety jacket for motorcyclists I recognised that here was a product with universal appeal and application. After some discussions and negotiations, I was delighted to take on the sole distribution for the UK and Ireland and 3 years on, we are now in the process of establishing a dealer network in both countries.

Of course, my affiliation with safety does not just end at being a distributor for the jacket. I am now able to use this platform to educate the market as to the phenomenal benefits that an inflatable jacket offers over conventional impact protection products.

In a road sector with disproportionate fatalities and serious injuries we are duty bound to find ways to bring this product forward to the benefit of motorcyclists of all skill levels and sectors. Over the last few years, much of this work has involved petitions and industry conferences where I have sought to demonstrate Motoairbag as a life-saving protection for the thousands of motorcyclists across the UK.

There is still work to do in this area, and even now I am trying to engage the support of the Ministry of Transport to reduce or eliminate VAT (as with helmets) on the safety jackets, whilst at the same time, working with local motorcycle training schools, the police and other organisations to provide their students and motorcyclists with discounted safety jackets.

In the grand scheme of things, this is still in the early stages but with determination I am absolutely confident that I will get there…

Chris Hardy is the Owner and Director of Supatracks (UK & Ireland) & Motoairbag (UK & Ireland). More details can be found on both company websites; www.supatracks.com and http://motoairbag.co.uk/.

To sign Chris’ petition to reduce the VAT on motorbike airbags please click here.