Charles D. Lowder Inc. wins Equipment World’s top safety award

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Updated Jul 11, 2013

Gene Lowder COY 2013When a firm is well established, there can be an attitude of not fixing what isn’t broken while old ideas and ways of doing things hold firm.

Which is why Gene Lowder, president of Charles D. Lowder Inc., celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, took a different approach with his safety program. The company’s efforts in this area were recognized with Equipment World’s 2013 Contractor of the Year Safety Award, given during the Contractor of the Year event last week at The Venetian in Las Vegas.

(Lowder was one of 13 finalists for Contractor of the Year. You can read more about his company here.)

Lowder taps experts to help guide the company in specific areas, including safety. “We hired a knowledgeable, talented safety director to assess our program and implement needed changes,” Lowder says.

That person, David Baker, came to his position at Lowder with years of practical experience under his belt, having served as a project superintendent for another construction company.

Working with the North Carolina Department of Labor, Baker molded a new methodology for Lowder’s safety program. Believing that redundancy is the most effective approach to safety, Baker focused on 17 topics that would serve as the company’s core material. And since a portion of Lowder’s workforce is Hispanic, all topics are covered in both English and Spanish.

The program has been successful in more than just reduced safety incidents and lost time. General contractors take note of Lowder’s serious attention to safety, which gives them a leg up on their competitors.

In short, says Baker, “It’s expensive to conduct a safety program at a very high level, but it’s prohibitively expensive not to.”

Now in its 13th year, the Contractor of the Year program is sponsored by Caterpillar. The winner of this year’s overall Contractor of the Year prize was Scott Kelly of Enterprise Trenchless Technologies Inc. Read his story here.