New Team Member Stands Out for Speaking Up

June 2022 — Now, that’s what we’re talkin’ about. A former underground coal miner with less than two weeks as a Watco stevedore has no qualms using his Stop Work Authority. Alex Stinnett was a miner in Brookwood, Alabama, before starting work in September 2021 about 20 miles away at the Port Birmingham terminal. He took General Manager Joel Wilmoth and other terminal leaders at their word to call a timeout if he saw a hazard.

“We preach Stop Work,” Wilmoth said, “but to have a new team member use Stop Work Authority for something wrong and give us the opportunity to fix it? It was just perfect.”

Stinnett was with two other team members inspecting a 100-ton derrick crane at the beginning of a shift. He observed cables that he thought appeared to be frayed. “It turned out to be dried grease on the cables,” said Wilmoth. “But the fact that he was looking that close just showed me he was paying careful attention to what was going on. We were lifting 45-ton coils out of the barge that day. If (a cable) breaks, (the coil) goes through the floor of the barge and sinks the barge, or someone’s getting hurt.”

Wilmoth said most new team members are too overwhelmed by the 182-acre river port and rail terminal to have much to say. “It’s kind of an eye-opening place,” said Wilmoth. “Team members off the street are usually deer in the headlights because there’s just so much going on. But Alex was, ‘Hey, can we do this better?’ It’s unheard of out of a new team member, but he’s always coming up to me asking if we can do something different.”

And he’s often volunteering to work extra. Stinnett’s shift is 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays. But one customer’s 7-day-a-week schedule requires Watco team members to work extra hours, meaning multiple six-day shifts in a row. “He doesn’t necessarily like to work overtime, but he has a willing attitude,” said Wilmoth. “Having a team member that’ll just come to work hard and work safely, that builds morale around him.”

Wilmoth has a list of other positives he applies to Stinnett. “He has never been late. I have never had to tell him he’s missing a piece of PPE (personal protective equipment). I haven’t had a minute of trouble out of him.”

To top it off, Stinnett and his crew experienced one of the most efficient coal train dump times in recent years: 51 cars dumped in 5½ hours, while following all standard operating procedures and with no safety concerns. Said Wilmoth: “He is a great team member and does a fantastic job for us.”

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