Steve Ardagh of Eagle Protect On Five Things You Need To Build A Trusted And Beloved Brand

Authority Magazine Editorial Staff
Authority Magazine
Published in
10 min readApr 10, 2023


Be Fearless — at Eagle Protect, we don’t shy away from calling out the “bad actors” in our industry. Unsafe labor practices, inferior manufacturing standards, and poor quality control processes affect us all in the end. But we’re not averse to demonstrating how and why we go about doing things the right way. Yes, it can be done. So long as it’s done the right way.

As part of our series about how to create a trusted, believable, and beloved brand, I had the pleasure to interview Steve Ardagh, CEO of Eagle Protect.

Steve Ardagh, “The Glove Guy,” is the founder and CEO of Eagle Protect, a disposable glove supplier dedicated to the responsible sourcing of quality products that ensure customer safety and impact reduction, ultimately mitigating customers’ risk. Eagle Protect is the only global PPE supplier that is a Certified B Corporation, a designation that a business has met the highest standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency. By focusing on quality, labor rights standards and sustainability, Steve has made being an ethical company a top priority.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Doesn’t everyone want to grow up to be a glove guy? Like many people before me, I couldn’t have imagined the path my life would take that would lead to me establishing an international company that supplies premium quality disposable gloves and PPE. Essentially, Eagle Protect services two main industries that rely on glove usage — food-handling and now, more increasingly, the cannabis cultivation industry. Both industries, of course, require glove usage as a mandatory policy. But going back to the beginning, I was initially trained as an agronomist and then later moved into various marketing roles. One of the clients I worked with at the time invited me to travel from my home country of New Zealand to visit a Malaysian glove factory. While on the tour of the facility, we entered the glove packing room. What I witnessed in person would change the trajectory of my career and lead me down an entrepreneurial path. I’ll spare you the disturbing details. I didn’t know much about the glove industry, but I was certain I could do a better job than what I’d seen during that tour.

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

After we’d established Eagle Protect in New Zealand, eventually growing to supply 80% of the primary food-handling industry, we made the decision to expand to the states. Being a marketer at heart, I knew that swag was a fairly big part of the game, so we decided to go with a product that was pretty popular in New Zealand — they’re called 12oz keep cups — reusable coffee and tea mugs branded with a company logo. It’s safe to say that they weren’t exactly a hit with my prospective customers in the U.S. As it turns out, nothing in the USA is small!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

What makes Eagle Protect stand out from our competitors is our commitment to being environmentally sound and supporting responsible business practices that ensure sustainability. We’ve only got one planet Earth, right? I feel like it’s everyone’s personal duty to care for our environment. If we don’t, what happens then? I’m afraid at the rate we’re going, we may find out the hard way. So, we embarked upon a quest to make our company an example to follow — eventually earning status as a B Corp organization, wholeheartedly committed to social responsibility. If we have to, we intend to save the world’s food-handling industry one disposable glove at a time. In doing so, we want to teach our core customers to use a lot less of a better product than a lot more of an inferior one. We want to set a clear example — less waste is what will save this planet and we hope the message will continue to resonate with the younger generation we’re leaving this place to.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We’ve actually got some very exciting things in the works — the kind of thing that gets me out of bed every morning. Right now, our team is working on supplying the industry with hyper-local PPE. The idea is to use modern technology to manufacture our PPE product lines close to the end user. If it’s successful, it will go a long way towards solving critical supply chain issues, while improving the impact and safety of glove wearers in the industries that mandate their usage.

Ok let’s now jump to the core part of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define the difference between brand marketing (branding) and product marketing (advertising)? Can you explain?

That’s a great question. I think if you’re discussing things from a brand marketing perspective, it’s important to communicate your brand philosophy and story. For Eagle Protect, we stress our company’s ethical business policies and why we’ve established such stringent requirements — not just on the products we develop, but also in our go-to-market strategies. As for product marketing in an advertising sense, it’s most important to communicate your value proposition to your target audiences. What are the features of your product? What are your advantages and benefits? How do you solve your client’s problems? If you can do both well, positive results should surely follow.

Can you explain to our readers why it is important to invest resources and energy into building a brand, in addition to the general marketing and advertising efforts?

The investment of resources is a finite capability, so you have to utilize them wisely. For Eagle Protect, our brand recognition highlights the benefits of partnering with a company whose philosophy of being sustainable and environmentally sound is clearly communicated. We want our clients not to just enjoy the quality of our product lines, but also to give them peace of mind in knowing that we take great pride in protecting the authenticity and transparency of our sustainability efforts. This is one area where we clearly stand out in the industry, especially given the ongoing labor violations and quality issues that plague the glove manufacturing business. We want people to know that there is an alternative in the marketplace. A company that cares about not just the quality of our products, but also about how we manufacture, market, and stand behind the process of distributing and supplying the industries we support. We’re here to let people know that you can buy a consistent and guaranteed product designed, manufactured, and distributed with safety and integrity.

Can you share 5 strategies that a company should be doing to build a trusted and believable brand? Please tell us a story or an example for each.

Here are five strategies that Eagle Protect employs in building a trusted and believable brand:

Be the Example — we don’t just talk the talk about building a trusted brand. Our actions reveal that we also walk the walk. We are a purpose-driven organization. The disposable glove industry isn’t exactly a sexy business, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do our part to set an example to follow. Earning the glove industry’s only B Corp certification is proof that we’re serious about our commitment to being environmentally sound and practicing sustainability in all that we do.

Be Fearless — at Eagle Protect, we don’t shy away from calling out the “bad actors” in our industry. Unsafe labor practices, inferior manufacturing standards, and poor quality control processes affect us all in the end. But we’re not averse to demonstrating how and why we go about doing things the right way. Yes, it can be done. So long as it’s done the right way.

Be Known — we invest heavily in promoting the key differentiators in our disposable gloves and PPE, and why shouldn’t we? We’re expending a lot of time, effort, and resources in demonstrating the difference between a product you can trust and one that you can’t depend on. We’re very proactive about getting our message out to potential clients.

Be a Trailblazer — within our own industry, we often decry the utter lack of oversight and regulations that allow harmful and potentially contaminated products to enter the supply chain. If we can’t do anything to change it, we decided to establish our own standards — a version of what the industry should be doing to protect glove-wearers and consumers. At our own expense, we’ve undertaken multi-year, peer-reviewed scientific studies that revealed the alarming rate of product contamination in the glove industry. As a result, we developed our own five-step proprietary product verification standards and guarantees.

Be Charitable — it’s important to give back to the communities that support us. Studies show the younger generation cares more about social responsibility than any generation before them. And they will be the decision-makers of the future. We feel it’s important to be charitable and set an example that others could — and should — follow.

In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved brand? What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?

Right offhand, I can think of two remarkable examples of companies that have done a solid job of building a believable and beloved brand. They include Apple and Patagonia. Apple has set the standard — across multiple industries — on the importance of focusing solely on the user experience. And then there’s Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard. He impressed me — and the whole world — with his recent decision to give his $3 billion dollar company away. All of their profits — estimated at $100 million annually, will now go to fight climate change and protect undeveloped land around the world. What’s a better example than that? Even I remain blown away by this honorable decision. It’s one I’d like to see replicated by others.

In advertising, one generally measures success by the number of sales. How does one measure the success of a brand building campaign? Is it similar? Is it different?

Sales and the bottom line will always be the monetary standard of success. But if you’re interested in building a brand that resonates with consumers, there’s plenty more that success is judged upon. People like doing business with Eagle Protect because we have such high standards for our brand. They appreciate the quality of our product lines, the transparency of our supply chain, and the intimate level of customer service we provide. To me, that’s the essence of how your brand is deemed a true success.

What role does social media play in your branding efforts?

Eagle Protect is fairly prolific in the way we approach our social media branding efforts. We routinely highlight our company attributes, such as our B Corp status, to reinforce the key differentiators that strengthen our brand versus the competition.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

It may sound a little far-fetched, but I’d really like to see a movement for the corporate world to focus as much on ESG efforts as they do for profitability. There’s been undeniable progress — especially if you look at where we are today compared to 10, 20 years ago. ESG has even been factored into the mutual funds that investors choose to place their assets. But how much bigger could that effort be? We have to get out of the “profits over public” mentality that’s plagued our industries for far too long. If we eventually could pull this off, that’s something bigger — the evolution of industry. I’m just one person, one CEO, the owner of one company. What if every CEO adopted this philosophy? Do you think the world would be a better place? It’s undeniable.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I read Jim Collin’s book, “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t.” That’s my quote — the whole book. For Eagle Protect, our core values include an intolerance for mediocrity. Why race to be in the middle of the pack? If you’re going to shoot for the stars, give it everything you have. Because we really only have one shot at getting that right in life. When it’s all said and done, how will you be remembered? I can’t say what others might comment on my efforts, but I’d like to think that they’d agree I did my best to set an example and live by the principles I espoused.

We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)

To add to a previous answer, I’d say Yvon Chouinard, the CEO of Patagonia. He’s as unconventional as they come. He’s living proof that we can, in fact, put people over profits. I admire his intestinal fortitude and the example he’s set — a new high bar of excellence that I can only hope will eventually be matched by others.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Here are all of our social media accounts, hyperlinked for your viewing pleasure:

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.