My Story: Terri Collins
My story begins with my father, who was working for a chemical manufacturer. One of his responsibilities was developing Safety Data Sheets for chemicals after the OSHA standard on hazard communication was published in the early ’80s. He saw a need to help businesses understand and manage their responsibilities and programs related to this new standard. Thus, Compliance Consultants Inc. was founded in 1987 to help businesses comply with the standard and other safety needs.
Growing up, I worked in the business over the summers, helping with administrative duties. But I never really saw myself involved in the business in the future. By 2008, I was teaching in a middle school and realized that I needed to make a career change, to devote time to starting a family.
I decided to leave teaching to work at CCI. At the time, the country was in a recession and CCI had recently lost a crucial client. My focus in those early days was on marketing efforts: developing blog, web and email content, and getting the company the name recognition and clients it needed. As with most small businesses, you don’t just wear one hat. As my years at CCI went by, I found myself taking on more client-facing tasks; researching standards; dealing with inspections, program development and contract negotiations; writing standard operating procedures; and assisting with overall business strategy.
By 2017, CCI had grown and my nephew had joined the company full time, running day-to-day programs and operations. He had been going to school to earn his degree in occupational safety and health, and the long-term plan was for him to become a partner/owner and for me to become president. In 2020, my dad retired, and my nephew and I took over the business as vice president/chief operating officer and president/CEO, respectively.
Part of CCI’s growth strategy was to position the company as a woman-owned business. Years of being in the field with clients made it evident that there were far too few women in the industry, and even fewer businesses that were woman-owned. The demand to include woman-owned businesses in the procurement process was growing, and there would be advantages to being one of them. In 2019, CCI received certification from the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBEC East). It’s been great to be a part of this organization for the educational programs, networking and support in helping promote women-owned enterprises.
A day in the life for me now likely includes a few hours in the field inspecting construction sites or client facilities, writing programs and reports, and taking care of the day-to-day needs of running a small business. As my father instilled in me from the beginning, “At the end of the day, what matters most is getting home safely.” I try to instill that message at CCI and use it in my community efforts to reach out to women who may be considering a career in the health and safety profession or entrepreneurship.
Compliance Consultants Inc.