Safety and Training Make the Difference

Titan Contracting & Leasing Co., Inc.
Written by Claire Suttles

For over 35 years, Titan Contracting & Leasing has supplied premier specialty mechanical contracting services to the power, petrochemical, refining and general process industrial markets throughout North America and select international markets.
Well equipped to handle these industries’ toughest projects, the Owensboro, Kentucky-based company offers EPC, General and Specialty Mechanical Construction and customized solutions. Specific services cover everything from plant maintenance, tanks and vessels, and fabrication, to process and power piping, equipment erection, and modularization. Titan typically employs between 800 and 2,000 people at any given time, depending on project requirements.

VP of Corporate Safety for Horn Industrial Services, Jerry Maggard, estimates that 75 percent of these employees are welders, capable of taking care of a customer’s most advanced and challenging projects. “At last count, we had well over 300 procedure qualification records that support over 700 welding procedure specifications for welding over 30 ASME material welding groups using seven different welding processes,” he says. “Quite frankly, we can weld anything out there.” For instance, the team recently completed a project in Maryland that involved extremely thin sheets of metal (it’s called wall-paper welding). “It takes a special person to be able to weld that material [because] it is so thin,” Mr. Maggard explains. The ability to successfully complete complicated jobs like that one has earned Titan a spot in Engineering News Record’s list of top 20 Specialty Mechanical Contractors. The business has also been recognized as an ABC Accredited Quality Contractor for more than thirty years.

Titan is supported by its parent company, HORN Industrial Services, which has expanded through organic growth and strategic acquisitions to include National Steel Erection, MILCO Construction, INCO Services Inc., Titan Fabrication, M Industrial Mechanical, and Midwest Consulting Inc.

Titan’s unwavering commitment to safety truly sets the company apart. The business has gone three straight years without a recordable injury equating to a TRIR of zero. The current Experience Modification Rate (EMR) is only 0.55. These numbers are no accident; the team works tirelessly to prevent on the job injuries. “When I came here in 1994, our Experience Modification Rate was 1.14 – that is 14 percent higher than average, with average being 1.0,” Mr. Maggard recalls. Company wide efforts drastically improved the company’s safety record, brining the EMR down to 0.55, which is “45 percent better than average.”

A unique safety program is at the heart of Titan’s safety efforts. Sister company Midwest Consulting, a full service safety consulting firm, trains each and every Titan employee. “When we hire somebody, whether they are experienced or inexperienced, they go through two days of compliance training before they get to the field. These remarkably comprehensive training classes include company safety policy, emergency procedures, respiratory protection, fall protection, accident reporting procedures, substance abuse, hazard communication, ladders / scaffolding, permit required confined space, cranes and rigging, personal protective equipment, hearing conservation, bloodborne pathogens, housekeeping / hygiene, process safety, electrical safety, driving safety and D.O.T., lockout / tagout, materials handling, fire protection and prevention, hot works procedures, welding and cutting, manlift procedures, and forklift training.

New employees also receive ten hours of OSHA training before starting their first job, while supervisors are required to take the 30-hour OSHA class. New hires immediately undergo drug and alcohol testing as well, further helping to ensure safety on the job.

Titan’s commitment to safety can be seen at every level of the company. “It goes back to the safety culture,” Mr. Maggard insists. From the top down, the team understands the value of safety and makes it a priority to maintain the highest safety standards. These efforts are clearly evident in the field. “It is all about our field people. They have accomplished what we set out to accomplish.”

A slew of safety awards demonstrate the company’s commitment to safety. Notable awards include the 2011 Partnership of Excellence Award / Alstoms Environmental, Knoxville, TN; Outstanding Safety Achievement Award / Motiva Crude Expansion Project, Port Arthur, TX; Safety 500 Petro Cup / Motiva Crude Expansion Project, Port Arthur, TX; Platinum Status for 2010 to 2013 / ABC Step Program; Diamond Status for 2014 / ABC Step Program; Holmes Safety Association Award; and MICCS Safety Achievement & Zero Injury Award for 2013 / 2014.

Titan boasts a comprehensive, industry-leading training program. In 2014 alone, the company trained more than 100 welders in ASME code welding techniques at its own, leading edge welding academy. “We send them through school, and after they pass their test, we put them to work,” says Safety Administrative Assistant Grace May. “They are guaranteed to work for us for at least two years.” The training program covers practical applications of welding, including oxyacetylene, SMAW, tungsten inert gas (TIG) and flux core (FCAW). Safety, welding theory, blueprint reading, and rigging are also included in the curriculum.

After completing the 8 to 10 week class, new hires are well prepared to work as entry-level welders and fabricators. But Titan also gives these graduates the opportunity to receive advanced training if they are interested. This win-win situation increases the welder’s hourly pay while simultaneously ensuring that the company has the skilled specialists they need.

Titan’s welding academy is known for having excellent facilities. The school boasts 35 booths where students – or current employees – can practice as much as needed, free of charge. “There is nothing in the state of Kentucky like what we have at Titan Contracting,” Mr. Maggard states. “There is not another school that has anything even close to the welding school that we have.” The company’s willingness to compensate trainees also makes the program stand out. “Titan is the only specialty mechanical contractor in the U.S. that pays enthusiastic new students to learn how to weld,” the company’s website reports.

Moving Forward
As is the case throughout the industry, Titan’s greatest current challenge is finding manpower. “I think that the companies that are going to survive are going to be the companies that can supply the manpower, the quality welders that are needed out there,” Mr. Maggard predicts. Companies compete for skilled workers, picking off competitors’ employees for a minor raise or other incentives. “Welders will leave us to go to work for other companies for fifty cents an hour more. But our safety culture, and how we treat them like family is helping us to retain some of our people.” The company’s training academy also helps to remedy the problem by providing a steady stream of skilled workers. And these employees are likely to stay on board for the long term, Ms. May adds. “We train them and we give them a job. That gives us a lot of loyalty from them because we taught them the skills and put them to work.”

Mr. Maggard reports that when employees do leave, they often return after working for companies that lack Titan’s commitment to safety. These employees also miss Titan’s family-like atmosphere. “They are part of our family and that is one of the things that sets us apart from other companies.”

Titan’s commitment to training and safety also helps retain customers. “We did lose some of our customers through the recession,” Ms. May remembers. “But a year later we were getting calls back from them to repair [and] replace everything that they [the competitor] did and we got our contract back. As soon as they got someone at a cheaper rate, they learned it wouldn’t work out very well and they came right back to us.”

Mr. Maggard remains optimistic despite the industry challenges. “In the future I see good things happening,” he says. With new offices in Florida and Texas, Titan’s reach continues to grow, ensuring that the company will be able to supply more customers with well-trained, safety minded talent in the years to come.



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