Best in the Business: NWIBRT Celebrates the Safest NWI Construction Firms

Best in the Business: NWIBRT Celebrates the Safest NWI Construction Firms

When it comes to keeping workers safe on the job, construction companies in Northwest Indiana routinely outperform their national peers. They achieve this by working together, collaborating, and celebrating the safest outcomes from throughout the region. At a recent awards banquet held by the Northwest Indiana Business RoundTable (NWIBRT), the best-performing firms received well-deserved recognition for their efforts to keep workers safe.

“At the heart of successful construction projects lies an unwavering commitment to safety. Companies in NWI continually strive to improve their safety practices, even amidst the most challenging of circumstances. We are honored to recognize and celebrate these companies, whose dedication to safety not only sets them apart but elevates the entire regional construction industry,” said NWIBRT Safety Committee Chair and Cargill Health & Safety Manager Rick A. Foor.

Awards given during the banquet were given for work performed during 2022, which included some of the region’s largest and most important construction projects. Over 50 companies were recognized, representing a mix of contractors, subcontractors, and owners.


Contractor of the Year

The Contractor of the Year winner must meet the Excellence award criteria and must be a company that contributes to safety culture in Northwest Indiana, as determined by a third-party panel. This year, there were two winners that were separated into two tiers based on how many hours of work they performed in Northwest Indiana. The winners were Solid Platforms, Inc. (which had over 500,000 hours worked in NWI) and Hard Rock Concrete Cutters (which had under 500,000 hours worked in NWI).

Solid Platforms, Inc.

Solid Platforms has quite a lengthy history of achievement when it comes to their efforts in safety and jobsite protections, earning multiple awards in the past. The company is continuing this trend by expanding the use of its safety auditing application, in which reporting is assessed in weekly meetings, and by launching a new program to reward positive employee behavior. Under this new program, safe work that exceeds expectations is rewarded with “SPI Bucks” that can be used to purchase prizes via the company store. Solid Platforms also has a new interactive training program designed to challenge supervisors called “SPI School.”

Hard Rock Concrete Cutters

Hard Rock Concrete Cutters has taken several measures in the last year to upgrade its already robust safety programming. One of their actions was to implement a new safety incentive in which the field technicians on an individual basis can get safety awards based on their consistent use of all required PPE. The company also teamed up with University of Illinois engineering students to work on reducing silica exposure among employees. They achieved this by developing a new prototype hood for slab saws that lowers silica exposure by over half of recorded jobsite levels.


Company of the Year

Falk PLI

The Company of the Year award goes to engineering or specialty companies that foster cultures of safety among their construction peers and exceed national safety averages themselves. Falk-PLI was selected as this year’s winner.

Before any action takes place on a project, Falk PLI starts with a review of the potential hazards that may be present at their jobsites. They also share this information with their partnering contractors, and work with others to develop new best practices.

Lately, the company has been leveraging technology to work even more safely. For example, Falk PLI developed a patent for a laser scanning system that can remotely measure large items like cranes without requiring scaffolding, lifts, or tie offs. This method can also identify emerging problems that can be addressed before they become expensive, thus improving maintenance.


Owner Excellence in Leadership


Fluor Constructors – Cargill

BP and Cargill were selected to receive Owner Excellence in Leadership awards this year because they are among the most proactive owner companies when it comes to safety standards. NWIBRT defines owner companies as businesses that hire contractors and own construction projects.

Each of the two winners in 2023 has developed quality safety programs at all of their facilities and regularly encourages their contractors to improve their own programs and practices. Because of those efforts, both companies have been able to achieve low recordable incident and injury rates for the last several years. Considering each one of these firms has thousands of employees on the job every day, their ability to achieve such low rates is no small feat. It’s a very widespread, concerted effort across numerous locations.


Innovation Award

The Innovation award is all about the companies that have been proactive in developing new safety initiatives on jobsites. This year, there were five winners, which is a bit of a record for this award category. Awards were given to Cargill, Inc., EMCOR Hyre Electric, Fluor Constructors – Suncoke, Thatcher Foundations, Inc., and Total Safety U.S., Inc. for their efforts in pioneering new things in safety.

Cargill, Inc. has been using remote operated drone teams for all kinds of activities at its facilities, including to make projects vastly safer. For example, towards the end of last year the drone team performed internal tank inspections. This eliminated a whole range of hazards, like not having to use ropes to lower workers down into the tanks, and no need for confined space entry.

EMCOR Hyre Electric developed a new app last year to serve as the nexus of its safety communications. It’s called the “Hyre Safety App” and it bridges the gap of communication and resource availability between the office and the field. This app was developed 100% internally using existing Microsoft 365, and it includes features like real-time alerts of safety incidents, automated safety checklists, and access to resources.

Fluor Constructors – Suncoke found a new way to make the routine task of conveyor belt replacement much safer for workers. As the new belt is winded onto the machines, it speeds up and can cause serious damage or injury. The Fluor Millwright team developed a new hydraulic braking system that has led to a much safer and more controlled process to replace belts while working in difficult locations.

Thatcher Foundations, Inc. implemented numerous new safety innovations in 2022, including the deployment of a Rapid Impact Compaction (RIC) system in NWI. This technology can help improve support conditions in areas that have loose soil by using a very large pile driving hammer and a specially designed guidance system and tamper. This can improve existing site conditions without the hazards of over-excavation or the hoisting of heavy piling.

And lastly, Total Safety U.S., Inc. developed two important safety innovations last year. The first was a new Smart Compressor system with remote monitoring capabilities. This system has the latest gas detection and wireless technologies to monitor multiple systems simultaneously. The company’s other innovation last year was the new Centralized Confined Space Monitoring (CCSM) system to improve worker safety in confined spaces through real-time monitoring.


Site Safety Leader of the Year (Roger Walters Memorial Award)

For individuals that have demonstrated extraordinary contributions to the safety of the workers in Northwest Indiana, the Site Safety Leader of the Year, Roger Walters Memorial Award is a special honor that comes directly from their industry peers. This year’s winner was David Cooper of Thatcher Foundations, Inc.

Cooper has over 35 years of construction experience, 21 of which have been dedicated to safety. He’s known as the “trainer of trainers” in the NWI and Chicagoland areas, having provided extensive knowledge to safety leaders from all kinds of other regional companies. Cooper’s firsthand experience on the job enables him to understand and identify job site hazards and proactively develop safety programs that work for the field team.


Strength in Safety

Through their dedication and hard work, Northwest Indiana’s construction companies continue to demonstrate that safety is a top priority. They are among the best in the business at delivering great projects while keeping their workers safe, and that’s something that everyone in our region should be proud to celebrate.


Falk PLI

Continental Electric Company, Inc.

Valdes Architecture and Engineering

Total Safety U.S., Inc.

Sargent Electric Company

SEI Solutions

Solid Platforms, Inc.

Superior Engineering, LLC

Total Mill Services, Inc.

Rieth-Riley Construction Co., Inc.

Petrochem Insulation

Meade Industries

K2 Industrial Services, Inc.

Industrial Contractors & Engineers, Inc.

Barton Malow Company


Advanced Engineering Services

Fluor Constructors – Cargill

Hard Rock Concrete Cutters


NWIBRT Safety Award Tiers

  • Recognition – Companies have lower than national industry averages for:
    • Days Away from Work (DAFW)
    • Days Away, Restricted or Transferred Rate (DART)
    • Total Recordable Incidence Rate (TRIR)
  • Achievement – Companies have lower rates than the average of the NWI Regional Contractor community.
  • Excellence – Companies must meet Achievement level for three years or more.



2023 NWIBRT Award Winners

Contractor of the Year  

  • Solid Platforms, Inc. (Over 500,000 hours worked in NWI)
  • Hard Rock Concrete Cutters (Under 500,000 hours worked in NWI)

Company of the Year

  • Falk PLI

Owner Excellence in Leadership

  • BP
  • Cargill

Innovation Award

  • Cargill, Inc.
  • EMCOR Hyre Electric
  • Fluor Constructors – Suncoke
  • Thatcher Foundations, Inc.
  • Total Safety U.S., Inc.

Site Safety Leader of the Year (Roger Walters Memorial Award)

  • David Cooper, Thatcher Foundations, Inc.

Excellence Award

  • Advanced Engineering Services
  • AMS Industries, Inc.
  • Brock Industrial Services, LLC
  • Calumet Lumber, Inc.
  • Falk-PLI
  • Fluor Constructors – Suncoke
  • Hard Rock Concrete Cutters
  • Industrial Contractors & Engineers, Inc.
  • Luse Contracting Group
  • Meccon Industries, Inc.
  • Middough, Inc.
  • A. Logan, Inc.
  • Nooter Chicago
  • One Way Safety
  • Petrochem Insulation
  • J. Mycka, Inc.
  • Solid Platforms, Inc.
  • Stevenson Crane Service, Inc.
  • Superior Engineering, LLC
  • Total Mill Services, Inc.
  • Valdes Architecture and Engineering

Achievement Award

  • ACMS Group, Inc.
  • Atlas Technical Consultants
  • BMWC Constructors
  • Continental Electric Company, Inc.
  • DLZ Industrial, LLC
  • Griffin Contract Dewatering, LLC
  • K2 Industrial Services, Inc.
  • Superior Construction
  • Total Safety U.S., Inc.

Recognition Award

  • Barton Malow Company
  • Central Rent-A-Crane, Inc.
  • EMCOR Hyre Electric
  • Fluor Constructors – Cargill
  • Hasse Construction Company, Inc.
  • Hayes Mechanical
  • Meade Industries
  • Morrison Construction Company
  • Orbital Engineering, Inc.
  • Rieth-Riley Construction Co., Inc.
  • Sargent Electric Company
  • SEI Solutions
  • Thatcher Foundations, Inc.
  • The Pangere Corporation
  • Tonn and Blank Construction
  • Tranco Industrial Services, Inc.

Outstanding Crafts Persons Safety Leader Award

  • David Adams, Hard Rock Concrete Cutters
  • Jess Adams, DLZ Industrial
  • Kurt Allison, Thatcher Foundations
  • John Babe, BMWC Constructors
  • Jason Bannwart, Milestone Contractors
  • Mike Bilderback, Sargent Electric Company
  • Steve Birchett, Morrison Construction Co.
  • Jim Booker, Korellis
  • Sean Burke, Barton Malow
  • Kevin Carrico, Thatcher Foundations
  • William Clausing, Sargent Electric Company
  • Johnny Cross, Korellis
  • Shaun Daly, Morrison Construction Company
  • Joe Dapshis, Industrial Contractors & Engineers
  • Todd Doland, Fluor Constructors
  • Robert Donovan, DLZ Industrial
  • Jason Fowler, ICE Scaffolding
  • Tony Garwood, Fluor Constructors
  • Jordan Grommet, Cargill
  • Jorge Hernandez, Barton Malow
  • Robin Jimenez, Fluor Constructors
  • Rick Kekelik, Fluor Constructors
  • Robert Matijevich, Morrison Construction Co.
  • Brian Murray, DLZ Industrial
  • Michael Neidow, Morrison Construction Co.
  • Nate Peffers, Solid Platforms, Inc.
  • Jerry Ripley, Morrison Construction Company
  • Jerry Russell, EMCOR Hyre Electric
  • Nick Sekulowski, Fluor Constructors
  • Jamie Serrano, The Pangere Corporation
  • Tim Singleton, Superior Construction
  • Brian Taubee, Rieth-Riley Construction
  • Bill VanSchepen, Rieth-Riley Construction
  • Jaime Vargas, Milestone Contractors
  • Roy Walter, Sargent Electric Company
  • Jason Zelenc, Industrial Contractors & Engineers
  • Matt Zuzich, Hard Rock Concrete Cutters

Certificates of Appreciation

  • Jim Arendas, CAF
  • Rick A. Foor, Cargill
  • Brian Fordon, Valdes Engineering Company
  • Kaley Kostelnik, Total Safety U.S., Inc.
  • Shoji Nakayama, University of Wisconsin
  • Clay West, Cargill
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