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Billy Godwin is the 2018 winner of Saltchuk’s Mike Garvey Award for Distinguished Service in Safety.

By Hilary Reeves

TOTE Maritime Alaska Terminal Operations Manager Billy Godwin is the 2018 winner of Saltchuk’s Mike Garvey Award for Distinguished Service in Safety, awarded to an individual who displays a distinguished and sustained commitment to safety.

Born in Bay Minette, Alabama, Godwin grew up in Pensacola, Florida.

“Most of my childhood was spent outside fishing, canoeing, exploring the outdoors and being carefree,” he said. “I always pictured myself doing construction or driving a truck when I grew up.”

Godwin fulfilled his childhood dream, holding various logistics roles, eventually moving to Alaska and driving for Carlile, and then joining TOTE Maritime Alaska (TMAK).

‘Slow and steady pressure’

Godwin’s commitment to safety took root early in his heavy-machinery career but became more prevalent after he was hired on at TMAK, according to Director of Operations Mike Thrasher.

“We had a fatality here in Anchorage – one of the longshoremen – not long after he started here,” Thrasher said. “When (President) Grace Greene came in and described each of us as part of a family, it really clicked.”

Thrasher said when Godwin took over as Terminal Operations Manager, he took his additional responsibilities with regard to all aspects of the operation seriously.

“During the past two-and-a-half years, Billy has applied slow and steady pressure and worked very closely with both SSA (TMAK’s stevedoring partner) and with TOTE staff in the office and terminal,” Thrasher said. “He’s constantly increasing the awareness of the entire operation – the office environment included.”

Since Godwin took over Terminal Operations, Thrasher said, he’s implemented three key safety projects: replacing existing outdoor lighting with brighter LED lights that require less maintenance; re-painting yard lane lines “safety yellow” twice every year; and attending to breaks in yard pavement and ramp transitions.

“Our incident numbers in Anchorage are down over the past year,” said Thrasher. “Billy’s really good about the little things.”

Inspiring others to engage

Godwin was nominated for a 2018 Saltchuk Safety Award by Customer Service Supervisor Gianna Cinquegrani.

“Billy is constantly driving safety at TOTE Maritime Alaska. He makes it his priority and encourages everyone else to do the same,” she wrote. “I see Billy incorporate safety daily and have watched him do so for the past five-plus years. His efforts lead to more Near Miss Reporting, employee engagement, and ensuring that each of us gets to go home safely… He empowers us to ‘own’ safety.”

Cinquegrani said she met Godwin in 2013 when he was first hired at TMAK as a Transportation Supervisor.

“I’ve reported to Billy and worked closely with him for the past six years,” she said. “During those six years, Billy has proved to be an extremely well-respected leader and integral part of our operation. Billy takes safety into his own hands. Safety doesn’t only apply while we are in the office or at the terminal, and Billy drives that mindset, which in my eyes is the most important role. He is the role model and inspiration that our team needs to look up to for safety. I believe that Billy’s involvement and participation in safety are what inspires others to engage, which is what makes safety a part of our culture.”

“We plan to continue to be an industry leader in safety and set the bar for others to follow.”

Billy Godwin, Terminal Operations Manager, TOTE Maritime Alaska

Meanwhile, TMAK’s Safety Walks may become a best practice throughout the Saltchuk family of companies. Members of the leadership team walk the TMAK terminal on a set schedule, connecting them with operations employees on safety issues and lending transparency to how they’re being addressed.

“I haven’t personally seen any other company as dedicated to safety as we are,” Cinquegrani concluded. “It truly is part of the culture here. That culture has inspired me, along with countless others, to always make safety a priority.”

Industry leaders

According to Godwin himself, safety is about “accomplishing the objective and everyone going home to their families injury-free every day.”

Married 21 years with four children and two grandchildren, he said if he could change one thing about his life and career, he said he’d have moved to Alaska sooner.

“I’d wanted to come to Alaska since I was a kid for the adventure,” he said. “Now that I’m here, I may never leave. I consider Alaska home.”

He said he’s surprised at the way professional decisions and training have had an influence on his personal life and is honored to work for a company with “a great culture that truly puts safety first.

“We plan to continue to be an industry leader in safety and set the bar for others to follow.”

TOTE Maritime Alaska Terminal Operations Manager Billy Godwin is one of 10 nominees for the 2018 Saltchuk Safety Awards, awarded annually to an individual responsible for an innovative idea that improves safety behaviors and to an individual who displays distinguished service with regard to safety.

Hilary Reeves

Hilary Reeves spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining the Saltchuk family of companies as a consultant. Since People of Saltchuk launched in 2014, Reeves has interviewed more than 200 Saltchuk employees from operating companies all over the world. Born in Tacoma, Washington, Reeves is a former president of both the collegiate and local professional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists, a graduate of the Society’s Ted Scripps Leadership Institute, and a Toastmaster. When she’s not writing, she loves to read, ski, and practice the piano. She lives in West Seattle with her husband and two young daughters.