Safety culture Performance measurement Leadership

2024 CEOs Who "Get It"

2024 CEOs Who Get It
Bob Pyle

Bob Pyle

President and CEO
Graham Packaging
Lancaster, PA

A worldwide leader in the design, manufacturing and sale of technology-based, customized rigid plastic containers, Graham Packaging provides safe, attractive and sustainable packaging for a variety of industry-leading consumer brands. Headquartered in Lancaster, PA, with a flagship manufacturing facility in York, Graham Packaging produces approximately 16 billion containers annually across nearly 65 plants in North America, Europe and South America.

Notable accomplishments

  • Fosters a culture where safety isn’t merely a checkbox but an ingrained value that each employee must embrace. His call to “lead with safety” has resonated profoundly, permeating the core of the organizational fabric.
  • Established the Executive Safety Council – a testament to his commitment to instilling safety at the highest levels of operations – and championed the adoption of a safety moment at the onset of every meeting, a seemingly simple practice that’s now a cultural cornerstone woven into everyday interactions.
  • Takes a holistic approach that underscores that his commitment to safety isn’t just a solitary endeavor – it’s a partnership, a collaborative pursuit shared by every member of the organization. This unity has brought about tangible change that touches lives and safeguards futures.
Bob Pyle

Describe your personal journey to becoming a CEO who “gets it.”

The most transformative experience for me was as a plant manager in the heavy manufacturing industry. I saw those people face to face every day and was directly responsible for them. I still feel personally responsible for the safety of every single person at Graham Packaging. I’ve done business in more than 30 countries, and you see different stages of the safety journey – the good and the bad. Among all our priorities at Graham, the well-being of our people is paramount.

Why is safety a core value at Graham Packaging?

“Safety first” is a core value at Graham and ties into our strategic pillar of “Our people are our greatest competitive advantage.” We have integrated safety into our culture to ensure it becomes an intrinsic part of our operations, guiding decision-making at all levels. We fundamentally believe that everyone deserves to return home safe each day and that every employee has a responsibility to themselves and to each other to ensure our whole team stays safe.

What’s the biggest obstacle to safety Graham Packaging?

The biggest obstacle to safety at any company is complacency. To overcome it at Graham, we prioritize continuous training, engage employees in safety discussions and conduct regular safety audits. More importantly, however, we foster a “safety first” culture that encourages learning and reporting, ensuring a proactive approach to addressing potential hazards and building a workplace where everyone looks out for each other. We believe that if we do the right things, all incidents are preventable. We are continuously working toward a “target zero” goal of no incidents.

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

Our Safety First, Quality Focused initiative is a vital and vibrant part of who we are at Graham. We cultivate a “safety first” mindset through ongoing training, communication and recognition of safe behaviors. Open dialogue, commitment from leaders and empowering employees to actively participate in safety initiatives all create a collective commitment to a secure work environment. Additionally, to keep safety at the forefront of all we do, we begin every meeting with a safety moment to remind our staff that the safety of our people is our top priority.

How does Graham Packaging measure safety?

Safety is measured through both leading and lagging indicators such as near misses, safety training completion rates and proactive hazard reporting. As part of our recent internal Safety Perception Survey, Graham rated very well versus our peers. The survey showed that our employees understand and practice our safety standards and have internalized “safety first” as a personal value to look after themselves. Our biggest opportunity is to further expand our safety culture, whereby everyone looks out for each other’s safety.

What roles do off-the-job safety, mental health and well-being play in Graham Packaging’s overall safety program?

Off-the-job safety and mental health are integral to our overall safety program. We provide resources and support for employees’ well-being beyond the workplace, recognizing the interconnectedness of personal safety and mental health with on-the-job performance. This holistic approach strengthens our commitment to a safe and healthy workforce. We emphasize staying safe in and out of the workplace through the “Who Do I Work Safe For?” initiative, which reminds staff that safety doesn’t begin and end on our doorstep – it is a choice each day that affects loved ones, too. In addition to physical health, we also address mental health through a variety of programs, including our 2023 Mental Health Awareness Month celebration, reminding employees they are not alone and are supported in their mental health journeys.


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