Paul Molnar came to Bennett more than two years ago to lead safety at Ace Doran, a division of Bennett Motor Express. He picked Bennett because he perceived that most transportation companies were more concerned about revenue than drivers. When he interviewed at Bennett/Ace Doran, he could see that CEO Marcia Taylor, the executive team, and all business leaders truly cared about their drivers and employees.
“I just hadn’t experienced a true pro-driver attitude at other organizations,” says Molnar sitting behind his desk in his new office at Bennett’s headquarters in McDonough, GA. Molnar recently moved to Georgia from Cincinnati, OH, to accept a new position as vice president of safety for Bennett. “Bennett gets it,” he says. “They recognize and treat their people like they are part of the success. They understand that everyone wants to have a sense of pride in what they contribute.”
Throughout his more than 35 years of experience in the transportation industry training drivers and leading safety programs, Molnar says he never lost focus on the driver. “My passion is for the drivers,” he says. “Everything I do is looking at it from the driver’s perspective. I feel I owe it to them.”
What attracted Molnar to Bennett/Ace Doran was hearing only positive things about the company. “I read up on Bennett and talked to some people who knew Bennett, and found out that it’s one of those rare transportation companies that you never heard anything bad about,” he says. “People love working there and they have a lot of accomplishments.”
Since early 2015, Molnar has led safety and compliance functions for Ace Doran’s flatbed/heavy haul and wind energy heavy haul segments. To support Ace Doran’s wind drivers, he regularly traveled to the marshalling yards where drivers haul and park wind turbine components to lead safety meetings on-site. In his new role, he hopes to be able to continue with this activity, but knows he may not be able to go as often.
Glimpsing into the Future
Molnar plans to focus on increasing and improving communications with drivers, to help them understand the impact that a negative incident can have on the company. Molnar explains that communications is one of his favorite activities. He shares a copy of the latest issue of a newsletter he designed for the wind energy drivers at Ace Doran as an example of the types of communications he’ll be developing for Bennett’s drivers.
Starting out the gate, he plans to develop communications that will provide information designed to prevent accidents, bad inspections and claims. Among some of the topics he is exploring, he would like to share about actual Bennett incidents, educate drivers about how and when to use various technologies on the road, and provide defensive driving techniques.
“If we share about specific incidents that occur with our drivers, the next time a driver finds themselves in a similar position, they are likely to remember the story and adjust their behaviors,” he says. Molnar says he is most concerned with other drivers on the road. “We know we have some of the best drivers in the industry,” he says. “What I worry about is the people around them. I want to train our drivers to identify those vehicles putting them at risk and be able to adjust to their lack of attention. I don’t want our highly experienced drivers to ever get too comfortable. However, we also have accountability to make sure we provide our drivers with the tools they need to succeed.”
Another goal is to raise awareness that it only takes a few seconds to make a mistake that could have tragic consequences. “I want to mentor our drivers to treat each load like it’s the first load they’ve ever carried, with the same level of intensity and concern. I also value and respect their feedback, they are the professionals.”
Summarizing an Impressive Past
Molnar started his transportation career as a driver, which he believes enables him to empathize with drivers and their needs. Molnar has accomplished much in his extensive career, but says he is most proud of his driving history, logging more than 1 million accident-free miles over 10 years and continually making the top three drivers at the last company for which he drove, loading and delivering new automobiles to dealerships. Because of his supreme driving record, he was asked to train drivers, which launched his safety career.
Molnar also notes that he is proud of having trained numerous people in safety who moved on to bigger and better things. “That’s important to me, to be able to develop somebody and see them progress,” he says. “Even if you lose a valuable resource, you feel like you’ve accomplished something to help someone else succeed. I think as you progress in your career, you think about other people more than yourself.”
What excites Molnar about leading safety at Bennett is that Bennett does not restrict communications with drivers. “I’ve worked at companies where everything I say to a driver has to go through legal. At Bennett, I have the freedom to reach out to the drivers and build relationships. I want them to be comfortable calling me. I don’t want them to think ‘Oh no, it’s the safety guy, what did I do now?’ I want them to be able to reach out to me whenever they need. Safety does not have to be negative.”