By: Destiny Henschel, Marketing Coordinator at The Unified Group
The Unified Group kicked off their 2021 Safety Directors Forum from Wednesday, June 9 through Saturday, June 12, 2021 in San Antonio, Texas. Members within The Unified Group gathered from 12 different states for a guest speaker, interactive group discussions, and sharing of some of their best practices. Not only did members take home a surplus of knowledge, but they also took home enjoyable memories with reconnected friends and had an overall great time.
The first day, everyone safely arrived in Texas for a reception dinner, drinks, and time to meet new members or rekindle relationships after numerous months of virtual meetings.
On Thursday, June 10, members met at The Hotel Contessa. Gary Glader of The Horton Group, based in Orland Park, IL., began the forum talking about how to create positive relationships with your employees to better the safety culture within your organization. Glader’s topics included general contractors and safety, aging workforce issues and solutions, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Throughout this session, members interacted directly with Glader and one another to share their specific stories. 
In the afternoon, members broke up into two smaller, more intimate groups to talk about the safety culture within their organization.  After an hour of talking, members came back together and shared important topics they discussed. “Great to share and get feedback from other companies” said Dawn Bridges with Wiegmann Associates. To end Thursday’s meeting, Robert Fisher of Air Comfort Corporation proceeded to share a video regarding stress in the workplace, and facilitated a group discussion. Thursday night, the group enjoyed their trip to Iron Cactus for authentic Mexican food and drinks.
Day two began with Dave Ude of Air Controls and Scott Martello of Intech Mechanical by sharing their processes of instilling safety values in new hires. Following, Bridges and Dennis Gardner of Johnson & Jordan, Inc. spoke about their own safety communication within and outside of their organizations. “Getting this amount of knowledge present in one room and professionals that are willing to share is amazing” said Brian Scott with Mechanical Service & Systems, Inc.. In both sections, members interacted with the presenters by asking questions and sharing their own experiences. Before lunch, Dan Batt of Harvey W. Hottel shared a best idea, relating to changing driving training from an authoritarian, policy-driven approach to a more privileged approach; while Fisher shared a fleet safety video and facilitated another group discussion.
After lunch, the members were split into smaller groups to talk about their biggest challenges and received feedback from other safety professionals. After great conversations, members came back together and heard best ideas from Daniel George of Blauch Brothers, Inc., Frank Quintanar, and Alex Alas of J&J Air Conditioning. George spoke of his success with trenching competent person training, while Quintanar and Alas shared information about their Paychex safety program. After a wrap up of ideas, members had a free night to explore San Antonio and enjoy the great dining options.
The final meeting day, the morning started off with Paul Benson of Midstate Energy/ Veregy, Erica Peet of VHV Company, and Johnny Lucas of Cullum Mechanical Construction, who all shared a best idea. Benson spoke of his pleasant experience with SiteDocs for Safety and Project Documents, where he shared direct screenshot demonstrations and how easy and efficient the application is to use. Peet emphasized how effective her experience putting a safety committee back together has been for their company and Lucas concluded the best ideas by sharing his training program for equipment users. Quintanar believes the best part was “listening to industry professionals that were openly willing to share best practices.”
The final share of the forum was Fisher with a video regarding diversity in the workplace and members discussed their personal experiences with the topic. Members enjoyed a quick ice cream social and concluded the forum by going through their One Questions. “I am taking quite a few new ideas and practices back with me,” said Bridges, “Awesome Forum!”
Overall, the 2021 Safety Directors Forum was a success for The Unified Group and members left Texas with a list of new methods they are excited to implement upon return to their own companies. This meeting would not have been possible without the members of our task force -- Robert Fisher with Air Comfort Corporation, Dan Batt with Harvey W. Hotel, Inc., Scott Martello with Intech Mechanical, and Brian Scott with Mechanical Service & Systems, Inc..