2009 CEOs Who 'Get It'
George H. Rogers III
President & CEO
RQ Construction Inc.
RQ Construction Inc. is a leading player in Southern California’s robust commercial and governmental construction economy. Headquartered in San Diego County, the privately held company is a full-service construction company with architectural design capabilities, employing more than 180 workers.
Why is safety a core value at your company?
There are a variety of reasons why safety is a core value, and, ultimately, the overarching principle is that we value people over “things.” We believe that business success at the expense of life or livelihood of anyone in our supply chain is not, in truth, success.
How do you instill a sense of safety in your employees on an ongoing basis?
This is a more complex issue. Communication of our expectations; accountability to our mission, vision and values; aggressive continuation of educational goals; and generous incentives are all significant factors. We have a tremendous group of people here at RQ and, frankly, our positive safety results are because of their dedication to our core values. We constantly coach one another to “embed” safety into every process, beginning with estimating and design and continuing right on through the field tasks that deliver the end product.
What is the biggest obstacle to safety in your workplace, and how do you work to overcome it?
Process complacency and the false concept and reliance on probability. As a general contractor, we coordinate with multiple trades in an ever-changing work environment. Complacency regarding repetitive tasks and temptation to cut corners to meet a schedule deadline threatens both safety and quality. We have good success by using a project team approach.
Several years ago, we learned that we were not staffing our projects adequately. “Can do” people in construction have a tendency to “make do.” Result? Process safety suffers. However, a positive result of this lesson was that we grew in our hiring philosophy. We are far more methodical in our hiring process and believe that this philosophical change has improved process alignment with values across the board.
How does safety “pay” at your company?
Continued viability as a service provider is critical to employees who have chosen to invest their careers at RQ. It is the “safe” companies providing quality products at a competitive price that offer the greatest value to their customers. Discerning customers know real value and desire to work with responsible corporate citizens. At RQ, we sit on a three-legged stool: The legs are safety, quality and productivity. Pull just one of those legs out and, simply put, we are on the floor. Sustaining the enterprise for the benefit of the next generation serves a purpose greater than any individual or group of individuals. Aside from supporting the enterprise, each employee returning safely home to family is priceless. Because of our firm belief in safety as the No. 1 value, we measure and reward project teams based on their safety practices.
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 realize that for our nation to continue to increase productivity, the workforce must be educated, healthy and vibrant. So much of the training and continuing education that we do together can be applied to safety off the job; however, the construction environment brings adequate challenges to each workday, so our work environment is where we focus most of our effort. Yet, we train our employees in areas that cross over from the workplace to home. For example, we recently held a general auto and truck safety driving seminar. The most influential impact in our own employees’ lives as it applies to safety is our focus on the value of human life as a moral issue, which is and should always be the foundation for decision-making.