2015 Risk All Star: Tim Kirsch

Keeping the Budweiser Moving, Safely

By the time owner Herbert Schilling of LaFayette, La.-based Schilling Distributing Co. called on Tim Kirsch to overhaul the company’s safety and risk management programs, the company faced a warehouse full of longstanding problems on those fronts.

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Tim Kirsch, Safety Director, Schilling Distributing Co.

On Jan. 1, 2014, Kirsch was named safety director, reporting directly to Schilling. The most immediate and daunting challenge for Kirsch was to reduce the large number of fleet accidents that had been occurring annually among the company’s 100 vehicles.

“Driver evaluations and observations are something that I created,” Kirsch said.

“Whenever we hire someone in a driving position, they have to be evaluated by myself before we turn them loose to drive a company car,” said Kirsch, who previously had been human resources director.

“Whenever the trucks are on the road, I randomly find someone and follow them and observe their driving, of course without them knowing.”

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Between April 2014 and April 2015, fleet accidents declined by 70 percent at the company, which distributes Anheuser-Busch products, along with soft drinks and water.

Another Kirsch initiative has him riding in vehicles with company drivers.
Kirsch also instituted a rigorous policy banning cellphone usage in company vehicles, in warehouses or in customers’ facilities.

Under Kirsch’s leadership, newly rewritten safety and risk management goals were implemented:

  • Stick to core values; safety is at the forefront.
  • Achieve zero incidents.
  • Become an industry leader in safety.
  • Continue to be a good steward and partner to the LaFayette community.
  • Adopt an “It Starts With Me” attitude.

“It’s all about the employee and being safe. In just about every conversation or meeting that we have, we mention safety,” Kirsch said.

The new multi-faceted plan of action included safety training, safety meetings, new employee orientation, driver evaluation, distracted driving programs and defensive driving training. This was done with help from Schilling’s broker (HUB International) and insurance company (Travelers).

“Whenever the trucks are on the road, I randomly find someone and follow them and observe their driving, of course without them knowing.” — Tim Kirsch, Safety Director, Schilling Distributing Co.

Positive results were felt within a year. In addition to the dramatic drop in fleet accidents, insurance costs decreased by over $500,000. Fuel costs dropped due to taking some vehicles out of action.
Miles driven decreased and workers’ compensation claims were cut by 85 percent.

A new corporate safety mission was rolled out corporate-wide.

“From an actionable items standpoint, all new hires were oriented before starting work,” Kirsch said.

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“A formal, standardized and documented orientation is now used.”
When Kirsch took over the safety and risk management functions, access to insurance markets was shrinking.

“The markets that were willing to underwrite were issuing large premium increases and unappealing large deductibles on both occurrence and aggregate levels,” said Harper Johnson, New Orleans-based vice-president and senior risk consultant for HUB International.

But as Schilling’s safety and risk management dramatically improved, so did its insurance condition.

Johnson said Kirsch is extremely hard-working and perseverant, with the ability catch small details while also keeping the big picture in view.

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R9-15-15p26_Intro_Allstar4-2.inddRisk All Stars stand out from their peers by overcoming challenges through exceptional problem solving, creativity, perseverance and/or passion.

See the complete list of 2015 Risk All Stars.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

2017 Risk All Stars

Immeasurable Value

The 2017 Risk All Stars strengthened their organizations by taking ownership of improved risk management processes and not quitting until they were in place.
By: | September 12, 2017 • 3 min read

Being the only person to hold a particular opinion or point of view within an organization cannot be easy. Do the following sound like familiar stories? Can you picture yourself or one of your risk management colleagues as the hero or heroine? Or better yet, as a Risk & Insurance® Risk All Star?

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One risk manager took a job with a company that was being spun off, and the risk management program, which was built for a much larger company, was not a good fit for the spun-off company.
Rather than sink into inertia, this risk manager took the bull by the horns and began an aggressive company intranet campaign to instill better safety and other risk management practices throughout the organization.

The risk manager, 2017 Risk All Star Michelle Bennett of Cable One, also changed some long-standing brokerage relationships that weren’t a good fit for the risk management and insurance program. In her first year on the job she produced premium savings and in her second year is in the process of introducing ERM company-wide.

Or perhaps this one rings a bell. The news is trickling out that a company is poised to dramatically expand, increasing the workforce three- or four-fold. Having this knowledge with certainty would be a great benefit to a risk manager, who could begin girding safety, workers’ comp and related programs accordingly. But things sometimes don’t work that way, do they? Sometimes the risk manager is one of the last people to know.

The Risk All Star Award recognizes at its core, creativity, perseverance and passion. The 13 winners of this year’s award all displayed those traits in abundance.

In the case of 2017 Risk All Star winner Steve Richards of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company, the news of an expansion spurred him to action. He completely overhauled the company’s workers’ compensation program and streamlined its claim management system. The results, even with a much higher headcount, were reduced legal costs, better return-to-work experiences for injured workers and a host of other improvements and savings.

The Risk All Star Award recognizes at its core, creativity, perseverance and passion. The 13 winners of this year’s award all displayed those traits in abundance. Sometimes it took years for a particular risk solution, as promoted by a risk manager, to find acceptance.

In other cases a risk manager got so excited about a solution, they never even considered getting turned down. They just kept pushing until they carried the day.

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Butler University’s Zach Finn became obsessive about what he felt was a lackluster effort on the part of the insurance industry to bring in new talent. The former risk manager for the J.M. Smucker Co. settled on the creation of a student-run captive to give his risk management students the experience they would need to get hired right out of college.

The result was a better risk management program for the university’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and immediate traction in the job market for Finn’s students.

A few of our Risk All Stars told us that the results they are achieving were decades in the making. Only by year-in, year-out dedication to gaining transparency about her co-op’s risks and learning more and more about her various insurance carriers, did Growmark Inc.’s Faith Cring create a stalwart risk management and insurance program that is the envy of the agricultural sector. Now she’s been with some of her insurance carriers more than 20 years — some more than 30 years.

Having the right idea and not having a home for it can be a lonely, frustrating experience. Having the creativity, the passion and perhaps, most importantly, the perseverance to see it through and get great results makes you a Risk All Star. &

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Risk All Stars stand out from their peers by overcoming challenges through exceptional problem solving, creativity, perseverance and passion.

See the complete list of 2017 Risk All Stars.

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]