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At A Glance

Contractor Dunkin & Bush views safety and customer relationships as “core cultural values”

Deidre Dunkin will soon assume majority ownership of the firm and become its chief executive officer

Safety and Relationship Emphasis Breed Longevity for Dunkin & Bush

Age happens. But history, according to Tom Dunkin, is earned. Dunkin is the third-generation chief executive officer of Dunkin & Bush, Inc., the Seattle-based industrial painting contractor that is well into its seventh decade serving the Pacific Northwest. Dunkin, in fact, is himself easing into retirement and is handing the reins of the firm to his daughter Deidre, the current president who will assume majority ownership and an evergrowing hands-on role in managing company affairs with the beginning of 2008.

A 65-year history does indeed open doors for Dunkin & Bush and gives them a competitive edge. But the contractor also provides a day-to-day working model for success by placing an emphasis on safety and relationships with customers, suppliers and employees.

“We have a story to tell,” says Tom Dunkin.

Improving Safety

Tom Dunkin remembers days not so long ago when the coatings industry viewed an occasional accident in the field as “the cost of doing business.”

“The industrial coatings industry had mediocre safety statistics in the early 1980s. But we started to view that as being unacceptable.”

Dunkin hired a full-time safety director in the early 1980s, becoming one of the first in the Northwest to do so.

“At first we’d look at that and say, ‘Where’s the return on that?’ But it’s an idea we really got behind and have since committed a lot of resources to developing our safety culture, and ingraining it deeply into our company culture.”

Once accidents went down, Dunkin found there was, in fact, a return on safety that could be seen on the bottom line, if indirectly. Productivity improved, as did customer relationships. Customers didn’t want an injury occurring on their property any more than Dunkin wanted to see any of his people injured.The Long Haul

Dunkin says some of the facilities at which his company performs regular maintenance painting have not had a recordable accident for up to 14 years. Statistics such as these have made it challenging to keep raising the bar on safety standards — “How do you improve from zero recordable?” he asks — but the company finds ways. For example, the company has a short-service employee program that makes new hires and shortterm employees readily identifiable to experienced crew members.

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