Innovators: A culture of safety

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Stresses its ongoing, evolving commitment to driver training and loss prevention as a fundamental element of its corporate culture.

Even in an industry that insists on safety, A. Duie Pyle has managed to stand out. Recently, the New York State Motor Truck Association recognized the West Chester, Pa.-based provider of less-than-truckload, truckload and logistics services throughout the Northeast as its Carrier of the Year for Safety for the second year in a row. That’s just one of a number of safety honors A. Duie Pyle has received, including top awards from the American Trucking Associations.

To qualify for the NYSMTA award, the company first had to win a preliminary award based on reportable accidents vs. mileage in New York State; A. Duie Pyle placed first in the division for medium-sized companies. They then competed against first-place winners in the small- and large-size company divisions for the overall title.

“A. Duie Pyle was chosen for the award based on the thoroughness of the company’s safety effort,” says NYSMTA Acting President Kendra Adams. “They go above and beyond what is required. The company really goes the extra mile.”

Peter Dannecker, A. Duie Pyle’s director of loss prevention, believes that winning the award two years in a row is a tribute to the employees of the family-owned company. “There is a total buy-in and commitment to the health and safety of employees by company leadership,” says Dannecker, who is responsible for the development and execution of his company’s safety programs governing almost 2,000 employees, 835 trucks, 700 drivers, 15 terminals and six warehouses throughout the Northeast. “It’s a comprehensive team effort. Our leadership sets a vision of what the expectation is – it’s set as a core value.”

The nearly 85-year-old company – which hauled war materials during World War II, including materials used in the “Manhattan Project” that produced the Atomic Bomb – has been honored in the past with numerous other awards from local, state and national organizations for its long-term record of safety and security, and for the extensiveness of its safety programs.

“It’s a lot of little things,” says Dannecker, who has been the company nine years. Some of those “little things” include:

  • Training new employees on safety-related matters beginning on their first day, as well as annual defensive-driver updates for veterans. “Even a guy that’s covered two million safe miles spends a day with a certified instructor for a refresher course,” Dannecker says;
  • A “mirror-check station” provided at all of the company’s facilities – essentially a series of white lines painted on the pavement where a driver parks and makes sure all of his mirrors are adjusted correctly. If the mirrors aren’t filled by reflections of the white pavement markings, they need to be repositioned. “All drivers are trained to use them,” says Dannecker; and
  • Snow-scrapers for trailer roofs that are installed at every facility. “It’s an H-shaped plow that lowers onto the top of the trailer,” says Dannecker, admitting that while many consider the job a lot of work – it takes three men to operate the device – it’s also a critical safety precaution during often harsh Northeast winters. “It’s an example of the type of investment this company is taking in the name of safety.”

    In 2007, Dannecker himself was named ATA’s National Safety Director; the award is considered the supreme achievement of safety professionals. He was selected by a committee that included past award winners, representatives of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and law enforcement professionals. Under Dannecker’s leadership, A. Duie Pyle saw a 49 percent improvement in its preventable accident rate from 2000 to 2006. In addition, A. Duie Pyle’s in-house driver training, loss prevention systems and safety records have been awarded ATA’s President’s Trophy, the highest safety award available to motor carriers in North America.

  • It’s not me – it’s this organization, a team that’s doing it the right way,” Dannecker says. “Our risk management program is organic, it is rooted in our corporate culture, and it continues to evolve as an extension of our company’s value system.”

Responsible care
As if all of the awards weren’t evidence enough of A. Duie Pyle’s commitment to safety, the company also recently was named a Responsible Care Partner by the American Chemical Council (ACC). This recognition is awarded only to those companies with exceptional expertise and documented performance in the safe and secure handling and transportation of chemicals. To become certified, A. Duie Pyle currently is undergoing a rigorous two-year certification process.

While participation is mandatory for ACC members, companies that are part of the supply chain can apply for acceptance into the program as a Responsible Care Partner. “While we already had outstanding safety processes in place, we felt that becoming a Responsible Care Partner was the right thing to do,” says Steve O’Kane, A. Duie Pyle president. “It further demonstrates our commitment to chemical industry manufacturers, our neighbors, our drivers and the people in the communities where our trucks are traveling.”

Gaining acceptance as a Responsible Care Partner is a rigorous process, and a company first must be sponsored by two ACC member companies who think the nominated company has the necessary senior management commitment to safety and security, and the processes necessary to fulfill that commitment. A. Duie Pyle was sponsored by BASF and Rohm and Haas. Once nominated, a company must provide detailed documentation of its safety systems and performance record. The documentation provides insight into A. Duie Pyle’s commitment to safety and why it continues to earn recognition from its peers.

The company’s current safety and security measures include real-time satellite-enabled shipment visibility; continuous monitoring of personnel; en-route and carrier facility security; a sophisticated infrastructure with guarded, monitored terminals; and secure fleet equipment. In addition, every driver in the A. Duie Pyle LTL and truckload fleet possesses a hazardous materials endorsement, and more than 70 company associates are Hazwoper Level 3 Technicians trained to respond to any hazmat emergency.

Now that A. Duie Pyle has been accepted into the Responsible Care Partner program, the company will be required to meet ongoing safety and security standards that include measurement and public reporting of performance, third-party audits and security management program certification. The company also will be required to conduct a vulnerability assessment and develop security measures to protect against terrorism.

Dannecker is confident that A. Duie Pyle will excel in meeting all of the program’s performance standards. “When it comes to safety, it’s really all about training and discipline,” he says. “We just have an organization that gets it done.”


Innovators profiles carriers and fleets that have found innovative ways to overcome trucking’s challenges.

If you know a carrier that has displayed innovation, contact Avery Vise at avise@ccjmagazine.com or (800) 633-5953.