As a fourth-generation construction business dating back to 1898, The Walsh Group knows a little something about family.
Founded in Chicago, where its impact is seen across the skyline, Walsh now operates 21 regional offices throughout North America. It manages hundreds of construction projects, ranging from airports and highways to healthcare and water treatment facilities, ranking among the five largest builders and contractors in each of those categories and more.
Even today, members of the Walsh family continue the tradition as company chairmen and presidents of the company’s two U.S.-based ventures, Walsh Construction and Archer Western Construction, along with a third company, Walsh Canada, operating north of the border. And despite its growth, Walsh has not lost sight of its origins.
“Walsh is a family company, but it’s a company of families,” said CSP Hank Botterman, Walsh’s director of HSE for building operations. “One of the greatest things about working at Walsh is even though we’ve grown to be a big company, it still feels like a small company because the leadership has maintained that small company feeling.”
And one thing about families: they take care of each other.
With that in mind, The Walsh Group has long dedicated itself to ensuring the safety and well-being of its more than 8,000 tradespeople and staff.
Walsh considers safety the responsibility of everyone, from project managers to supervisors to workers on jobsites. The company encourages all of them to be involved in identifying challenges and offering solutions. It has built its safety plan upon five pillars: training, planning systems, observation processes, culture, and claims management.
And as a Diamond Level BCSP certification sponsor, Walsh views safety credentialing as a key part of implementing and achieving that five-tiered safety plan.
BCSP Group Management recognizes organizations whose employees hold at least five credentials, honoring them in the following categories: Sapphire (5-24), Ruby (25-49), Emerald (50-99), and Diamond (100 or more).
Boasting 110 total credentials within its company, Walsh is one of only 10 Diamond Level certification sponsors and one of 121 among all levels. A total of 104 Walsh employees hold the Safety Trained Supervisor Construction (STSC) certification, a credential designed for candidates with any safety responsibilities, ranging from leadership to workers on a jobsite.
“We recognized several years ago that the certification … being achieved by somebody makes it part of who you are,” Botterman said. “Because of that, it will be less likely to compromise your professionalism, your commitment to the things you have been trained in. It’s one of those things that certainly improves the culture throughout the organization.”
Botterman serves as Walsh’s group account manager (GAM), a role held by someone at each of the 121 organizations. The GAMs administer sponsorship of groups of applicants and certificants from their organizations, coordinating payment for their applications, exams, and renewals.
For a business such as Walsh that empowers employees throughout the company to share ideas, investing in those employees through certification is a natural extension of that dedication.
“That’s a very inexpensive investment throughout the organization to improve a culture which will ultimately have fewer injuries,” Botterman said. “We all know what the cost of injuries are compared to a few dollars for certifications and the annual fee.”
Walsh’s commitment to that type of culture has helped the company reach and maintain its position as a multi-billion dollar business and a leader in the construction services industry.
And it’s a commitment that comes from the top down. As an example of that, Walsh Construction President Sean Walsh began personally overseeing safety for the company in recent years.
“The investment in terms of time, attention, and presentations Sean does throughout the organization really helps us get to an even higher level of attention to safety,” Botterman said. “I think that’s unusual for almost any company that a president is dealing with safety 80 percent of the time. Day to day, he is the guy leading our program, and that’s pretty great to see.”
The dedication is clearly visible with just a quick look around thewalshgroup.com, where Sean Walsh speaks passionately of the company’s goal to “inspire people or empower people to protect each other, to be each other’s keeper, to have that sense of family, that sense of pride, that actively caring culture that we’re so very proud of here at Walsh.”
For Walsh, safety truly is a family affair.
BCSP Diamond Level Certification Sponsors (number of credentials):
Amentum (1,013), UCOR (244), AECOM (240), Swinerton (210), IMPACT/Ironworkers (193), Advanced Technology Services (165), Gilbane, Inc. (141), The Walsh Group (110), Clark Construction (104), Skanska (102)