Skip to main content

Safety program shapes company culture

The Boldt Company surpasses 10-million hours without lost time injury

share arrow printer bookmark flag

December 28, 2022

APPLETON – President Dave Kievet said people are at the heart of the work that The Boldt Company – an Appleton-headquartered construction management firm – does.

And Kievet said it’s Boldt’s people and the orientation they receive that has allowed the company to achieve success – whether that’s logging 10 million hours without a lost time injury or being recognized as the 2022 Wisconsin Business Achievement Award recipient.

Kievet said Boldt’s people orientation is the foundation of the company, something former CEO Oscar Boldt put into place during his tenure in the role from 1950-98.

Kievet said when he took over the role of president, it was important to him to understand why the organization existed to begin with.

“When Oscar and (his wife) Pat took over the company in the early 1950s from his father, he did not do it to make the most money or to build the biggest buildings but to provide good jobs for people,” he said. “The foundation of the company is in helping people, (which starts) with helping employees and (extending) to the community.”

That people-first culture begins with actions focused on its employees at its 18 offices throughout the country – which Scott Frazer, vice president of corporate safety, said requires an “all-in” attitude that permeates the entire company.

“A company’s culture is either a safety culture or it’s not,” he said. “It can’t be a stand-alone thing. It comes down to three things: We have active executive leadership helping us build this (safety) culture. Two, we have a group of safety professionals passionate about what they do. And third, we have project leadership teams fully bought in who build safety into daily activities. It takes all of us to make this work.”

10 million hours
Kievet said Boldt’s safety philosophy is referred to as “SafeThinking,” and includes asking its workforce to be present, be focused and be safe.

“We reinforce to all team members that each of us has personal responsibility for our own safety and the safety of others,” he said.

Kievet said the company’s zero-incident culture is built into the organization, and it purposely reviews safety in every job function.

“We continuously analyze our performance and engage our employees to understand gaps in our safety systems, policies and procedures,” Frazer said. “We gather feedback from those closest to the work, so our improvements are meaningful, impactful and add value to our employees and the business.”

Kievet said not only did the company log 10 million hours without a lost time incident, representing about three years’ worth of work, but it’s also being accomplished within what he said is an inherently dangerous industry, working in industrial shutdowns and other challenging situations.

// Boldt Company President Dave Kievet said safety is looked at in the same manner that schedule and budget are. Submitted Photo

“That’s a lot of self-performed work, and to do that (safely) is a tremendous accomplishment, especially in an industry that views injuries as a natural part of the job, and unavoidable,” he said. “The biggest mindshift that Scott and his team have been able to make in the organization is that it is possible for us to continue to grow and do it safely.”

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a recordable incident is:
Any issue that causes loss of consciousness, time away from work, restricted work or requires a transfer to a different job.An incident that requires medical treatment beyond first aid.A diagnosed case of cancer, chronic irreversible disease, fractured or cracked bones or teeth or punctured eardrums.A fatal injury.
In addition to the 10 million hours milestone, Kievet said the company is also proud to hit the target of a Total Recordable Incident Rate (a safety indicator used to evaluate the effectiveness of a company’s safety efforts) of less than 1.0.

In comparison, he said, the construction industry as a whole has an average rate of 3.0, which means 3.0 injury cases per 100 full-time equivalent workers.

He said a company’s safety record can factor into winning new work and keeping existing customers, which frequently comes down to partnerships.

“A key differentiator in our business is our belief in the value of relationships,” Kievet said.

Among those partnerships, he said, is with Salm Partners – a co-manufacturer of fully cooked sausage and hot dogs located in Denmark.

The Boldt Company worked with Salm Partners recently on a two-phased facility expansion project.

“The No. 1 priority in our plant is the safety of our people,” Keith Lindsay, Salm Partners president and CEO, said. “We need everyone to be safe. We need them to go home the same way they came in. We did 80,000 hours with zero recordables on our first project with Boldt. Maintaining that same level of safety is important to us.”

Safe working conditions, Kievet said, also strengthen the company’s relationships with its team members, something that’s particularly relevant in an environment where a labor shortage is one of the company’s biggest challenges.

“People want to work where they know they will come home from work in the same condition they went in,” he said. “Having a low churn of employees is critical to us creating a safe environment. We have the training, tools and equipment to do the job and do it safely, and we have people who put a high priority on safety.”

Kievet said safety is looked at in the same manner that schedule and budget are.

“That goes into attracting and retaining the best talent in the industry,” he said.

Business achievement recognition
Just as safety is important to The Boldt Company, Kievet said, so too is its involvement in the communities they operate in.
He said employees are encouraged to carve out time to volunteer in the community.

“We recognize we don’t just live on islands; we are part of an ecosystem that provides services to friends and family,” he said.

Recently, Boldt was the recipient of the 2022 Wisconsin Business Achievement Award presented by the Flowers Family Foundation – an award that recognizes a company’s impact on the Wisconsin economy.

Boldt was cited for its community involvement in philanthropic projects across all operating units, its programs in workforce development for high school and college students, its creation of a company-funded employee ownership program, its integration of new technologies in construction processes and its employee support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The recognition was accompanied by a $75,000 honorarium, which The Boldt Company donated to the American Red Cross of Wisconsin.

Kievet said in order for communities to take care of Boldt, Boldt has to take care of its communities.

“It starts with our employees and providing opportunities for them to create their best lives,” he said. “(It continues) with our customers and helping them produce the best businesses, and the trade partners we do business with. And lastly, it (extends) to our communities. This award acknowledges we are being good citizens and partners to our communities. If we get those four things right, there’s nothing we’re not going to be able to do.”

From a workforce development perspective, Kievet said this includes instilling the concept of construction as a vocation, and not merely a job.

He said this includes the company’s youth apprenticeships, as well as a variety of internships for non-trades workers; a BuildX event that brings high school students from across the Northeast Wisconsin region to learn more about various aspects of construction; and a variety of efforts throughout all the company’s markets, such as CityBuild in San Francisco.

share arrow printer bookmark flag