An all-inclusive forklift training business? Can do!

Sunita Pidair -
Forklift Diaries
- 1 Jun 2023 ( #1130 )
5 min read
I love providing people with an avenue to change their lives, providing them with a skill that can help them feed their family and boost their self confidence.
I love providing people with an avenue to change their lives, providing them with a skill that can help them feed their family and boost their self confidence.

In January this year, WORK SAFE Training was awarded the Consumers Choice Award in Business Excellence in Health and Safety in the Toronto Region. CEO and founder Sunita Pidair talks about building an inclusive forklift training company from the ground up.

I began my career out of college in Marketing and Advertising. I really enjoyed the creative side of work and play. I did not think it would take me into the materials handling industry.

I was hired to work for a safety training school to assist with the marketing and business side of operations. After a short time, I found myself running the day-to-day aspects of the business. Before I knew it, I was learning and teaching how to operate a forklift. 

I realised I had a talent for teaching, and really enjoyed providing people with some lifelong skills. Teaching provided me with an amazing sense of accomplishment, so I knew this was something I wanted more of. 

As I grew and learned more about this business, I realised that there were some key elements missing in the forklift training industry. Forklifts are large pieces of equipment. They can cause major damage and /or injury to people if not handled correctly. I noticed, put simply, that many people just did not get a sufficient amount of training, which left them open to injury and a lack confidence. I wanted to change this. 

I wanted to create a training school that was based on the success of the student. And that is when WORK SAFE Training was born. We offered no time limits with our training, at no extra charge, allowing the student to feel confident in their abilities. We also offered a low instructor-to-student ratio, which provided each student with the ability to engage with their trainer. Lastly, it was important to us to be very cost-effective as affordable rates would allow the average person access to the training to upgrade their skills.

I grew up in an East Indian family, the youngest of four sisters, in very predominately white neighbourhood. As a female and a minority, I grew up feeling like the odd one out. There were many instances where I felt I was not given opportunities because of the way I looked or where I came from.

However, my mother and father showed me - through their own trials and tribulations - that there wasn’t anything I could not do if I set my mind to it. So, I lived by that “I can do” attitude.

When I began to work in the materials handling industry, in this male-dominated environment, it was very evident that there were not many people who looked like me. This presented me with an opportunity to create something that was for all people.  I felt that this was my purpose at that time. 

I questioned why weren’t there more women operating forklifts and earning higher wages? Most women I spoke to would reply with, ‘am I allowed to operate one?’, or ‘aren’t forklifts for men?’. I was taken back by their replies. This was the start of my journey to empower more women to get engaged in this industry. I had also spent some time volunteering with Autistic kids and adults, with the lack of opportunities available for them. It occurred to me that they could also benefit from these services. So, it became my mission to become an all-inclusive training business.

I began to spread the word and use my creative side to market to women and all people who could benefit from taking this training. It started with free workshops and informational sessions to anyone that would listen. I spoke to many employment agencies to place the idea that they should also encourage the women who come through their doors to consider working as a forklift operator. I even began to provide free training programs to women in shelters and those living on the spectrum. 

 

‘My number one piece of advice for new starters is to be confident

and know your worth. I truly believe that if you believe in yourself, everything will fall into place.’ 

Sunita Pidair

 

The word began to spread and now WORK SAFE Training has expanded to two training centres in one of the biggest cities in Canada. We went from starting with zero women signing up for training to approximately 35% or more of our clients being women. 

We offer training on a wide variety of classes of forklift equipment as well as workplace safety programs. We have also expanded to providing online e-learning programs. 

We went from starting with zero women signing up for training to approximately 35% or more of our clients being women.
We went from starting with zero women signing up for training to approximately 35% or more of our clients being women.

Our clients range from all walks of life, ages and demographics. One of our trainers can even provide training in sign language. No one gets left behind. Mission accomplished!

The biggest challenge I am facing right now is scaling the business and letting go of the day-to-day operations. As a perfectionist, I like to oversee everything, But I am realising that the business has grown, and I need to let go and trust that the ship has been built and it’s time to let it sail.

On a personal level, I find myself challenged with finding the work/life balance.

Growing up, I always had an entrepreneurial spirit; however, I was unaware at the time where that spirit would take me. What I love about my job is providing people with an avenue to change their lives, providing them with a skill that can help them feed their family and boost their self confidence. There is nothing better than when someone learns something new and feels like they have really achieved something. 

 

Work in materials handling? The Forklift Diaries would love to hear your story!

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