Richard Bennett, the owner of BenSafe Fire Safety and Consulting, stands out as a dedicated entrepreneur and a community leader in Stark County. In 2023, Bennett earned the title of Stark County Minority Business Association (SCMBA) Member of the Year, recognizing his outstanding contributions and commitment to SCMBA.
From Firefighter to Entrepreneur
Richard Bennett’s journey into the world of fire safety began as a firefighter for the city of Canton. With a deep sense of duty to protect and serve the community, Bennett not only fought fires but also pursued education, eventually becoming a professor of fire protection at the University of Akron from 1999 to 2020.
Born in Conway, South Carolina, and raised in Norfolk, Virginia, Bennett moved to Canton in 1973. A graduate of Canton McKinley High School, his commitment to public service runs deep within his family. Bennett’s mother, Elizabeth Bennett, played a pivotal role in inspiring him to become a firefighter.
As the owner and operator of BenSafe Fire Safety and Consulting, Bennett has transformed his business focus. He has shifted towards the supply chain, providing fire protection equipment and consultations. His business offers a range of products and services, including fire extinguishers, kitchen hood fire suppression, and comprehensive consultations on fire protection measures. Bennett’s extensive background as a professor in fire protection has equipped him to provide top-notch products, training, and education.
Challenges and Successes
On the other hand, Bennett’s successes include achieving numerous certifications and training, a testament to his dedication and expertise. His role as a professor for over 20 years and civic-minded responsibility include serving as the vice president of the Stark County Mental Health and Recovery Board as well as a committee member for the United Way’s Helping Black-Led Non-profits group.
Throughout his entrepreneurial journey, Bennett has faced challenges, particularly in navigating the bidding process. He emphasizes the importance of organizations like SCMBA, that create opportunities for minority entrepreneurs.
Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
Bennett’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is straightforward – become a part of SCMBA. He believes that SCMBA opens doors, connecting like-minded individuals with a common goal of increasing the number of successful minority businesses in Stark County and beyond.
Bennett’s involvement with SCMBA has played a role in shaping his entrepreneurial path. He credits SCMBA for providing a grant for his business, through the ERA Program, aiding in the certification process, and offering valuable support in establishing his business. He advocates for recognizing and supporting minority vendors and entrepreneurs, ensuring their rightful place at the business table, which is a major part of SCMBA’s mission. With SCMBA’s assistance, BenSafe Fire and Consulting secured MBE and EDGE certifications and received funding through ECDI.
In conclusion, Bennett’s journey from firefighter to entrepreneur is a testament to his commitment to community service and business excellence. As he continues to lead BenSafe Fire Safety and Consulting, Bennett serves as an inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs in Stark County and beyond.