Living a culture of safety
Safety starts with hiring the right people
The word safety carries a lot of weight around Holmes Company of Jackson. It’s not just a sign hanging on the breakroom wall—it’s a mission. A commitment. A way of life.
“Everybody lives and breathes it,” says Jack Holmes, who started the flatbed trucking company with his brother Martin in 1981. “From when we wake up in the morning until we go to sleep, it’s all revolved around being safe. And doing the right things.”
And the first “right thing” they do is hire and retain good, stable, safe drivers. “Our drivers are the key to our success,” Holmes says. “That’s why safety absolutely starts with the hiring. You hire your problems. So if you do a really good job on the front end, it makes everybody’s life a lot easier. From day one, we’ve always been a service-oriented company that tries to say we’re going to do what we’re going to do. We need safe drivers to deliver on that promise.”
How Holmes Company promotes safety
To help keep their team focused on safety, the coast-to-coast transporter holds an annual safety awards banquet, quarterly safety meetings, and a fall health clinic, chili cookoff, and truck rodeo judged by Mississippi transportation officials.
The result? The specialized carrier boasts countless safety awards from the Mississippi Trucking Association, low Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) scores, and a roster of nearly a dozen drivers with 10-plus years of accident-free miles—including one with 28 years.
How the experienced safety team at Sentry helps
A former truck driver himself, Mike Yonka, director of Safety Services for Transportation at Sentry, has been a key resource for Holmes Company. He’s often a speaker at their safety meetings and has even participated in their truck rodeo.
“Mike helped us quite a bit in developing our culture,” says Sheri Baker, safety manager/insurance administrator at Holmes Company. “Mike knows his stuff because he’s been out there. He knows trucking. A lot of times we can develop aspects of our safety culture around what he’s experienced and learned.”
Holmes agrees. “We need support and Sentry’s done great for us. They help us with loss control. We’re always looking for new ideas to keep safety in front of our drivers. All of the Sentry personnel who’ve come in over the years have been outstanding.”
Yonka, who has 40 years of experience in the trucking industry, says the entire Sentry safety team has a wealth of firsthand experience. “That’s one of the reasons why Sentry is valued in the insurance industry,” he says. “We actually have professionals who understand the trucking industry and can sit down and talk with customers about how to operate safely within it.”