In construction as in the military, a culture of safety is key.
It may seem ironic that Kevin Converse went from parachuting out of C-130s and C-141’s as paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division to serving as the Director of Corporate Health and Safety at United Rentals.
“I assist the field with accident and injury reviews, review and measure our progress in our health and safety culture and analyze our leading and lagging indicators so we can communicate areas of concern across all regions. My staff also reports our safety metrics to companies where our service it highly utilized and sought after. We also cover our Health and Safety standard operating procedures and safety communications.”
Kevin served 4 years on active duty, two years with the National Guard and another two with the Ready Reserve. During his 4 years in active service, which included the Desert Storm period, he traveled to some amazing places. One of his two overseas tours of duty sent him to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. “My outpost was on the way to Mount Sinai. There is a very old monetary with (at the time) a small contingent of monks. Every morning they climb to the top of Mount Sinai for prayer. It is a pretty amazing area for world history. During my time off, I took tours of the Pyramids in Egypt and toured the old city in Jerusalem, Israel.”
Today, when he isn’t busy with his official duties, Converse volunteers with the company’s Service to Employment Program (STEP), an initiative to recruit and train veterans.
“Veterans are a group of workers that not many companies proactively seek. They will say they have a preference, but we take it a step further. We recruit at military job fairs, military bases and online…United Rentals truly is a company that seeks the diversity of its employees not only in gender and race but in background as well.”
Veterans, he said, are “a skilled labor force trained by the government in high demand skills, leadership, goal setting and more. You can find mechanics and heavy-equipment repair specialists — there are all these different tasks they can do, and we can have can pick the best.”
He is especially proud of United Rentals’ efforts to help build Fisher Houses, these are facilities where military families can stay while their service member or veteran is being treated at a nearby military or VA medical center. “We supply the equipment to build the homes,” he said. A recent visit to one left him deeply moved.
“I have to tip my hat to United Rentals’ senior management,” said Converse. “Without allowing these groups and initiatives to blossom, we wouldn’t have the culture we have today.”
Writer-editor Deborah Skolnik frequently covers business topics. Her articles have appeared in major publications including The New York Times, The New York Daily News, CNN.com and Forbes.com.