Jeremy Davenport on safety: ‘My reward is getting to see everyone having fun, staying healthy, and going home to their families every night.’
By Hilary Reeves
Carlile Yard Supervisor Jeremy Davenport doesn’t spend much time in the office – you’ll find him outside “in the middle of everything.”
“I won’t ask anything of my guys that I can’t do myself,” he said.
Recently awarded the 2017 Saltchuk President’s Award for Safety, Davenport came up with a plan to change the layout of the Tacoma yard. This action created a safer way to receive and build flatbed loads by improving traffic flow through the yard and providing a much bigger area to work in, reducing freight claims and the potential for injury.
“I decided I wanted to change the layout because we simply didn’t have enough room,” he said. “We were carrying 40-foot-long pieces through 20-foot doors, which isn’t impossible, but unnecessary. It started when I turned all of the flatbeds from 90 degree parking to an angle setup to widen our usable area. Then it moved into having discussions with the other departments that work in the yard, and coming up with ideas on how else we can improve other areas. Jake Jacobson, Al Estencion, Kevin Sibley, the yard crew, and myself were the main players in brainstorming ideas, then implementing agreed-upon changes. It was a group effort.”
Davenport grew up in Puyallup, 45 minutes southeast of Seattle, but has lived in nearby Tacoma for the past seven years.
“I spent my childhood days building forts, riding dirt bikes and quads, and just screwing around in the woods from sunup to sundown,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to fly. I love being in (and out of) airplanes and helicopters.”
Davenport’s first job was working with a friend at a golf course when the two were in the fourth grade.
“They couldn’t put us on the payroll, child labor laws and all, so they have us a free round of golf for every day that we worked,” he laughed.
When he was 19, Davenport joined Pilchuck contractors, where we worked for eight years.
“I started out as a parts runner-slash-delivery driver, and moved into inventory controller,” he said. “In my downtime there, I spent my time learning how to operate all of the machinery, from dump trucks and front loaders to the excavators, backhoes, and side booms.”
After Pilchuk, he spent eight years at Carlile as a forklift operator before becoming yard supervisor, a position he’s held for three years.
“I just enjoy running machinery and working outside,” he said. “I realized I wasn’t built to be in an office all day, which is why I separated from Pilchuck. I prefer open areas, and this yard fits that bill.”
Davenport especially enjoys the teaching aspect of his job. His crew is currently preparing for a project that will extend their covered area.
“When I first took this position, I had a brand new crew with little-to-no experience. My biggest challenge was trying to form this crew with about six months of collective experience into an efficient, yet independent, group of young men that could perform any task without taking unnecessary risks. It’s a challenge still in the making.”
Davenport also enjoys backpacking, whitewater rafting, and he recently became a licensed skydiver.
“Last year, I volunteered with Washington Trails Association for a week to clear and repair about seven miles of trails around Pete Lake outside of Roslyn, Washington,” he said. “That was fun and a learning experience. We were unable to use engines in that area, so everything was done by hand. I think my next endeavor will be to get my pilot’s license. Also, I intend to start traveling more, outside of the country. I want to go and experience different countries and cultures.”
According to Davenport, coming up with new ways to make his team’s jobs safer and easier comes with the position – it’s part of his responsibility to his team.
“Jeremy is a great supervisor, and has the utmost respect from his peers and the employees that work for him,” wrote John Armstrong, Larry Gifford, and Kevin Sibley – who nominated him for the President’s Award – in the application.
“My reward is getting to see everyone having fun, staying healthy, and going home to their families every night,” he concluded. “It’s providing a job they can come to every day and not have the stress of wondering if they will get hurt. This award is a reminder that what I do on a daily basis has an effect on the people around me. It truly is a group effort. We haven’t had a recordable incident in about 1,350 (or so) days. It takes more than one individual to accomplish such an undertaking.”