Jeffrey M. Nodland

Jeffrey M. Nodland
President & CEO

KIK Custom Products

With 19 facilities strategically located throughout North America, KIK Custom Products is one of North America’s largest custom manufacturers of both National Brand and Retailer Brand consumer products. Headquartered in Toronto, KIK has 3,000 employees.


Why is safety a core value at your company?

The most important thing we can do in our business is ensure our associates return home to their families and friends at the end of a workday in the same condition that they arrived – free from injury and health risks associated with the workplace.

By making safety a core value of the company, we are clearly communicating that we expect each and every member of the KIK family to make safety the way of doing business, regardless of their role, level in the organization or years of service. It also gives us the opportunity to imbed safety into our performance management and compensation systems, which recognize core values and associated operating behaviors as key competencies for success at KIK.

KIK’s core values also include things like profitability and customer satisfaction.  Making safety our No. 1 core value demonstrates that we never put profit ahead of people’s safety, and this fact guides all of our decision-making. Our company’s operating philosophy is that profits and safety go hand in hand.   


How do you instill a sense of safety in your employees on an ongoing basis? 

The cornerstones of safety at KIK are ownership, participation and accountability at all levels of the organization. We are constantly updating our safety programs and implementing new processes and training methodologies, such as our new interactive, computer-based training module that keeps safety top of mind.  

We also continually drive the leadership of the safety program down to the floor level.  For example, in 2009 we implemented an hourly associate Hazard Observation and Near Miss Reporting Program, which rewards associates for participation in identifying and fixing potential safety issues before they result in injuries. In addition to eliminating hazards and creating a safety dialogue between hourly associates and supervisors, every report is entered into a monthly draw for prizes. The program has fully engaged KIK associates and far surpassed our expectations in terms of participation and real, measurable reductions in injuries in our facilities. Our sites have developed a friendly competition to demonstrate the participation rate in the program.

We also have created facility competition with our annual President’s Award. The award recognizes the facility that best exemplifies KIK’s commitment to health, safety, security and sustainability. It provides further incentive for broad associate participation in safety programs, as well as local safety objective setting and performance tracking. At the site level, key safety milestones are celebrated on a regular basis with special lunches and events to acknowledge achieving injury-free hours worked at the 100,000, 500,000 and 1 million hour levels.   

On a quarterly basis, our executive leadership team holds a conference call for our senior managers. These calls always begin with a safety trend report by facility, division and total company performance. Making this the first item on the agenda of every senior leader’s call, as well as the first agenda item at our quarterly board of directors meetings, reinforces the importance of safety in our organization at all levels.  


What is the biggest obstacle to safety in your workplace, and how do you work to overcome it? 

Certainly the economic challenges of the past few years have tested many organizations, including KIK. Unfortunately, we faced consolidation that resulted in the closure of a number of facilities and required us to closely monitor how we spend money. I’m proud to say that over this period of time we’ve reduced our injury rates by more than 50 percent. We built additional safety processes and supported them with the resources needed and the metrics to monitor performance in spite of the economic challenges.  Good safety doesn’t cost a lot of money, but it does make you pay attention to every detail of the operation, and it will pay for itself.

We continue to address our challenges by focusing on fundamentals such as employee training and new employee orientation to our safety programs. Our local facility health and safety committees work together to share tools and best practices, which will help us improve the consistency of our programs and performance over time. And our Corporate Health, Environment, Safety and Sustainability team provides oversight of all health and safety programs, ensuring consistent policy application, training and acting as a resource to local facilities. We have built a solid system to manage our challenges and continue to grow our safety success.


How does safety “pay” at your company?

There is a direct, bottom line impact from safety excellence. Over the past three years, the cost to KIK in terms of lost workdays and workers’ compensation and insurance costs has been reduced drastically. This allows us to invest more resources in proactive safety programs that prevent injuries.  

Safety excellence also increases the productivity and profitability of our manufacturing plants, leading to opportunities for greater variable compensation rewards for our employees. Accidents cost everyone in the company. Safety excellence creates opportunities.


How do you measure safety? What are the leading indicators that show you how safe you are, and where do you see room for improvement?  

We have a number of ways to incorporate leading indicators for safety. Our employee observation program is our primary leading performance method that involves employees, supervisors and facility management. From a compliance perspective, we conduct annual third-party assessments at each KIK facility for every health and safety program, plan and training module to ensure adherence to KIK’s safety requirements.   The results of those assessments are updated and shared with executive leadership on a monthly basis until all gaps are closed. KIK also employs a management system that requires an annual evaluation of areas such as employee involvement and facility management involvement in areas such as safety training and safety committees. Those assessments actually require certification by facility leadership every year.  

We also take our trailing indicators very seriously and ensure we learn from our failures so they are never repeated. In 2009, we established new incident reporting guidelines to ensure the executive leadership team is aware of every recordable incident that happens in the company and is immediately aware of any incident which involves a process safety regulated unit or results in lost or restricted time (DART). We actually started a program that posts a summary of every recordable incident, along with causal factors and corrective actions for all employees to read and learn from and hopefully avoid a future recurrence of similar incidents.

Until we achieve a total recordable incident rate of 0.0, there is always room for improvement. We will continue to work toward an injury-free workplace.


How important is off-the-job safety to your company’s overall safety program? What types of off-the-job safety programs does your company offer to employees?

We offer training in first aid and CPR for our employees, which has equal benefit on and off the job. For the past few years, we have supplemented our workplace safety programs with specific safety training on issues that impact our employees’ families. These include training on the dangers of texting while driving, safety tips during the holiday season, and fire safety in the home.  

As part of our ongoing program development efforts, KIK has plans to implement a companywide wellness program, which will encourage employees to live healthy lifestyles at home and at work. Good health contributes to mental alertness, physical stamina and other factors that can prevent injuries.

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