When the Kansas Department of Transportation began researching how to create a safety culture, they came across a Kansas company they found had a strong one: Watco.

When KDOT Safety Specialist Juan Delvallea contacted the Watco corporate office in Pittsburg, Kansas, Senior Manager of Training & Development Cris Hatcher was happy to comply with his request to provide an overview.

“Mr. Delvallea said KDOT wanted to work on achieving a better safety culture and how to overcome challenges,” Hatcher said.

He provided Delvallea a brief insight into the Watco Team Safety and Improvement Committee (TS&IC) program and the training that accompanies it. It was exactly what KDOT was seeking. Last month, Hatcher provided an overview to their entire Safety Leadership Team, which represented all six KDOT divisions across the state.

“During the presentation, I gave a high level overview of our TS&IC Program, the Instructor Led Training we provide to the committee members, and how we utilize the program to improve our safety culture, engagement among Team members, and for developing our front-line Team members who will be our future leaders at Watco,” Hatcher said.

At the conclusion of the presentation, Hatcher led a Q&A discussion that included motivation, morale, and hiring struggles.

“It was an eye-opener for all of us,” Delvallea said. “He gave us a good concept of how it works in the rail industry, how you get everyone regardless of their job or background actively engaged and involved in the culture.”

Delvallea said Hatcher was an outstanding speaker, and inspired the KDOT Team to work toward implementing a cultural shift of their own.

“I think it was a great opportunity to support another group who provides services to our community and communities all across Kansas,” said Hatcher.

Senior Vice President of People Services Rachael Peterson said Watco is frequently recognized for a Customer-first culture, and it’s exciting to now see the Team get recognized for a safety-always culture. Peterson said the Watco U Team has done “an amazing job of developing a Team of people who understand that Watco’s number one priority is safety.”

“To have KDOT reach out for our support in their safety initiative speaks volumes about the top-notch Team we have at Watco — from our Watco U trainers, to our safety Team trainers, and most importantly the Team in the field who take care of our Customers each and every day,” Peterson said.