Foundation – Part 2 “Life Lessons”

Safety First

In Foundation – Part 1 “The Cornerstone” I discussed how our faith is the cornerstone of our business.  In part 2, I will discuss how and why safety was chosen as our second core value. Safety is defined as “the condition of being safe from undergoing or causing hurt, injury, or loss.” I will talk more about why that is important to me in this post.

I apologize that it has been sometime since I have last updated my blog but this is my third attempt to sit down write this article. When I think about safety I think about the value of a human life. The lessons on the value of a human life have not come easy to learn and has been difficult to try and put down on paper and share. I have worried that I would not portray myself in the right manner and that somehow some people might think less of me. After much though I have decided to stay true to the intent of this blog and share with you those tough lessons because it is only through that that you can understand what safety means to H&J Petroleum.

The circle of life starts with birth. Few things have had such a profound impact on the way I view the world as the birth of my children. I cannot explain the joy of unbridled love and complete innocence my children have brought to me. It’s undeserved and is only a glimpse of Christ love for us. Having children has given me the greatest appreciation for life.

I have been a hunter for as long as I can remember. It is a passion of mine to this day. One of the most valuable lesson that hunting has taught me is something about life and death. I cannot pinpoint exactly how to describe the knowledge, that my actions can directly impact the life of another living being, cultured through hunting. How the decision to either pull a trigger or not pull a trigger can determine if something continues to live. In a sort of peculiar way that is difficult to describe, the wielding of that power makes me have a deeper respect for life. It is only by understanding death may we understand what is to truly live.

One of my fondest memories and one I will cherish forever is a hunting trip I took with my son who was only two years old about to turn three at the time. Still not mastering the skill of walking, over rough terrain strewn with large boulders, down a hill, and up another, we stalked a Black Buck Antelope. The animal offered a shot, and my shot rang true. The buck ran about 40 yards into the brush and expired. As we approached the buck, my son said “Daddy look, he is sleeping.” Not sure how to best impart the knowledge of life and death to a two year old boy, I approached it like most things I do in life. With a brusqueness I told him, “No son, he is not sleeping, I shot him and now he is dead.” The finality of that statement was lost on him and he still does not understand this but as I have learned, so shall he.

The lessons of life and death have been further driven home for me by a couple of my closest friends passing away seeming much too soon. Matt Segulja, was a friend I had known as far back as my memories can take me. We grew closer in high school when we started our own lawn businesses and soon merged them. His family became mine, and mine became his. Matt played football for my cross town rivals, the Lee Rebels. I did not play sports in High School and when the Rebels started playing in the playoffs in 1999, his family invited me to attend the first game with them. When they won they invited me to the next, and this continued until the Lee Rebels secured the State 5A title in High School Football that year. I traveled with them every single weekend for about 2 months. Matt got his second state title the following year while I completed my freshman year at Texas Tech. He joined me the next year as a Red Raider. Over the next few years our paths diverged but our friendship did not and when it came time to choose the Best Man for my wedding I could think of no better man than Matt Segulja. He was a brother I chose. Time went on and we talked only on occasion much like busy friends do and in April 2011 God blessed my wife and I with my first born, a son. Like previously revealed, having a child has been one of the most life changing events I have had to date. Six months after being blessed with this new life, I was at home alone with my son. My wife had gone to run an errand and she returned sooner than expected. She took my son from my arms and told me to sit down. I asked her what in the world was going on and she told me my friend, my brother, my best man had passed away. At first it didn’t even register because Matt was a healthy guy, healthier than me by a long shot, and it didn’t make any sense. Matt had passed away in his sleep due to complications from diabetes. Somehow the emotions of the new life of my son and the death of my friend will always be intertwined and I have come to understand life and death on a much deeper level.

I once heard a story, while I was out working on a drilling rig a safety meeting was being conducted. Near the conclusion of that meeting, the leader of that meeting stated, “Gentleman, we are drilling a well here, not fighting a war, I expect everyone to go home tonight.” During my seemingly short career of nine years, two young men, who worked on drilling rigs, failed to make it home to the people who love them. I did not know either of them individually but I think of them often. I think about the hole left where they once existed in their loved ones lives. I think about the kids that will not see them and the kids they will never have. I think about the hunting trips they will not get to go on with their kids and the longing in their loved ones eyes.

My desire to change the past motivates me to effect the future. Placing Safety in our core values exposes H&J Petroleum’s value for human life and the importance we place on it. It represents a commitment by H&J Petroleum to develop a culture from the top down committed to safety and giving our supervisors the best training to spot and stop an unsafe act and to perform their duties and the duties they supervise in a safe manner. It does not mean a safety program that sits on a shelf to never be looked at again or a series of rules that one must follow. It means that each day we will remind our employees how fragile life can be, and that an unfortunate chain of events can be the difference in every going home and someone not making it home. We will remind them daily that it is all of our responsibilities to look out for each other and do things the right way. I look forward to setting new standards in the consulting industry and giving our consultants the tools and culture they need to better our industry and increase the odds of every single person making it back home to their friends and family.

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