Today is the first day of the new fiscal year for members of the Lewis family tree: Lewis Tree Service, Carolina Tree Service and, of course, my team, Wilderness Environmental Services. That gives us a unique opportunity to start fresh. We do that financially. We can also do that from a safety perspective. We can take the opportunity to do a reset with our vegetation management crews. It’s also a good time to identify some things we will do better this year than we’ve done in the past. In our business, there are always things we can do better. Good leadership recognizes opportunities to move things forward in the right direction and we have the ability to do just that.
At last week’s Lewis leadership conference, we heard a lot about engagement. We heard about great stories through leadership and a common theme was leadership engagement. We heard from Steve Yastrow about Brand Harmony and a common theme was leadership engagement. We heard from Dale Lesinski about being "Safe 4 the Right Reasons" and how we, as leaders, can make safety relevant and personal to our craft workers. And we heard from the safety panel that Dennis coordinated about how divisions within the company are achieving positive results. A common theme from the panel was leadership engagement. I thought I would take a few minutes today to outline some engagement opportunities that you may want to look at when you start fresh with your crews this week.
- Make safety personal for them. Dale Lesinski showed us how important it was for our craft workers to know why safety is important to them. He talked about having a picture of their families near their workplace. For us this could be the inside of our hard hats. He showed us how to communicate that we care by reminding people who slip up who their safety is important to. He used the idea of the four people who are counting on each of us to be safe, starting with our children, grandchildren and spouses. Dale made safety personal and it’s a great example of something we can show those who we work with and I would encourage you to do so.
- Steve Yastrow talked about how our customers determine our external brand, but our employees create and determine our internal one. As leaders, the impressions we leave on our craft workers will reverberate around the company and will help form either a positive or negative brand within the company about who we are. As we reset today at the start of the fiscal year, let's commit to ensuring that those impressions are the positive ones we aspire to create. In particular that our leadership values safety. That we care about our employees and their families. That we care about doing the right thing.
- The third thing I wanted to bring up were the nuggets I took away from the safety panel. I was very proud to be able to stand up on stage with three examples of great leadership in vegetation management and utility line clearance. David Boyd, Division Manager, D28, gave us all examples of how identifying problems, developing solutions and engaging leadership in ensuring the solution is achieved has paid dividends within his division. Jonathan Snow, Division Manager, D27, talked about how, when they encounter challenges, his team has rolled up their sleeves and come up with solutions and how they’ve stayed engaged to ensure things continue to move in the right direction. From Matt Meador, Division Vice President, R7, we heard about passion. One can tell from listening to him that Matt truly believes it’s possible to achieve our goal of zero lost-time incidents. Three great leaders that we can all take cues from.
My closing topic comes from the Why of Lewis. The why we do what we do. The why we should want to work safe. As Dale Lesinski highlighted, safety results have a direct correlation to the bottom line. That’s a good reason, as business people, to want to work safely. But in addition to the bottom line, there’s another reason. Think about the four people who would be most affected by you being injured or killed. Think about what that would mean to them and to their futures. Now think about the fact that every one of the people who work for you have four people that similarly count on them. In addition to counting on them to be safe, they are counting on us to help them do it. The next time you are planning onboarding, setting up training, or even planning a job, try and ask yourself the question of whether you’ve done all you can do to ensure your workers’ safety. If you can’t answer yes, go back to the drawing board until you can.
Have a safe year everyone.