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Author Topic: Safety Magazine Profile  (Read 1483 times)

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Offline Jeff

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Safety Magazine Profile
« on: August 28, 2002, 05:52:20 PM »
Thought I would share a profile of the company I work for that was written up in A Michigan Safety Publication. The Michigan Association of Timbermen's Self Insurance Fund Newsletter.



I wanted to profile a member with an exemplary loss history which can easily be traced to its’ cause. I say cause, since that is what a great history is based on, in contrast to luck. It’s very important to recognize the difference. Our Self-Insurers Fund is based on this difference, with the commitment to prevention at the core of our program. Most MATSIF members have made this commitment, and act on it regularly. There may remain a few that have not quite made the distinction in their own minds yet, and we hope to be able to help clarify that for them. The best way I know is to provide an example, in actual practice, of one successful member’s methods to achieve our mutual goals. Billsby Lumber Co. Inc., member #87, makes such an example.

Ray Billsby, owner and President of Billsby Lumber Co. Inc., began his sawmill operation back in 1972. He’d previously sold this sawmill equipment to a company that did not survive startup. The bank that financed the equipment sale in ‘71 had repossessed it by ‘72, and suggested to Ray that he purchase it. This is the portion of his business he refers to as the East Mill. Ray had been working as a Morbark salesman since 1967 when he moved from his previous position as a logger and log truck driver for the former Morbark Sawmill. He’d started with Morbark in ‘65, logging with Bill Maeder (Maeder’s Logging, MATSIF member #850) and Bob Reel of Isabella County. Morbark operated their own sawmill for testing and demonstration purposes. A salesman had retired, and Ray accepted that position, leading to his eventual ownership of Billsby Lumber Co. Inc.

In 1974, the building which now houses the Billsby Lumber Co. West Mill was built. The building was constructed as a pallet shop, a sound cement-block structure. The owner at that time allegedly devised a method of sales fraud from which he made a very large amount of money, mainly from large downstate corporations that had some poor record-keeping practices. Sales orders were duplicated repeatedly, billed, and no stock delivered. Eventually the perpetrators were apprehended, the real-estate sold to Ray Billsby at a Sheriff’s auction in 1986. Over the next 4 years, Ray installed the equipment now in use in that building.

The East mill saws mainly Popple, the West mill hardwoods. They specialize in sawing dunnage and grade lumber. A logging crew was employed until recently, and Ray is debating whether to resume with his own crew or continue to buy from producers (the same dilemma nearly every mill manager wrestles with). Producers selling logs to this mill are strictly required to provide appropriate documentation of their status as legitimate subcontractors. Many producers are MATSIF members.

In interviewing Ray, it is clear to me his dedication to his employees. Retention of quality help is a high priority, as demonstrated by the large number of long-term people here. Earl Schoenhals has 25 years, Bill Harcourt 21 years, Jeff Brokaw 18 years, Lyle Stoner 17 years, John Miller 14 years, Jerry Klaffey 9 years, and Penny Brown 8 years. There are more with shorter employment still amounting to long-term.

Ray Billsby is a Trustee on the Board of Forest Center Insurance, the agency owned by the Michigan Association of Timbermen. Ray donates substantially to the MAT every year, and is known by most of you. This is further evidence of Ray’s dedication to the wood products industry, along with his MATSIF membership. As Dave Sidell said in the most recent Board of Trustees meeting, MATSIF members are part of an exclusive club, in effect. To become a member, you must meet certain qualifications. To remain and be a productive member, you need to be cognizant of the need to participate actively and enthusiastically. This is not, in a way, insurance, this is proactive financial protection based on prevention, shared risk and risk management ensuring your business’ financial wellbeing while maintaining the highest standards of treatment and care for those injured carrying out your business. This is the "club" known as MATSIF.

Think-Safety is an integral part of the overall safety program at Billsby Lumber Co. Inc. Documented monthly safety meetings are held, with incentives for safe practices. Billsby Lumber matches employees winnings in cash awards. This amounts to a substantial increase in costs, right? Wrong! If you believe it costs to provide such incentives, you should speak to Ray. There is not a better spokesman than one that has successfully achieved grand savings. Ray will tell you, substantial refunds with his low experience modification factor inducing a huge premium discount, there is no way to better control costs than through a well-rounded safety and training program coupled with incentives. One does not have the same impact without the other. Our MATSIF Think-Safety training agenda and pull-tab cards are very powerful, but more can be done by you. Consider adding your own custom incentives, such as matching winnings in cash awards or gifts, or seeding in more winning pull-tabs by purchasing them from MATSIF. Also, be certain to remind your employees about the second chance drawing for $100 held quarterly. Collect the non-winning cards at the end of each meeting, and mail them in (filled out of course) for employees that did not win this month. Your participation will increase chances the mailing will get done, increasing employee’s odds at winning the second chance. Furthermore, remind them of the end-of-year drawing. I’ve been finding a large number of employees unaware of that. In some cases even management has missed this important incentive: all cards returned, for winning redemption or for the second chance drawing, will be gathered into a drawing for $1,500 per zone at the end of this fiscal year. 3 separate winners will be chosen, one from each zone! Is this powerful or what? Please get the message out there.

I commend Billsby Lumber Co. Inc. for innovative thinking and extraordinary employee participation. This is a fine group of dedicated professionals, and the results of their efforts speak loud and clear to their benefit as well as the rest of ours. Before I close, are you aware of the website operated by Jeff Brokaw of Billsby Lumber? If not, go to and see what is offered. Jeff is Webmaster of this informative site. Try it when you get a chance. Come to our annual Think-Safety Kickoff meeting in your area. Thanks. I look forward to writing your member profile. Rich

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Offline Corley5

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Re: Safety Magazine Profile
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2002, 06:23:02 PM »
 8) 8) 8) 8)
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Offline Frank_Pender

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Re: Safety Magazine Profile
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2002, 10:34:59 PM »
That sounded great, Jeff.  It is always great to fell safe on the job, whether in the woods, mill or the classroom.  I often found that I was the safety enforcer for the students that were getting a raw deal, either from fellow students, parents, teachers or administrators. >:(  People need to feel safe in their workplace or the production and quality are at risk, no matter the product being produced. 8) 8)
Frank Pender

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