By MYRA THRIFT / Staff Writer – Waycross Journal-Herald
When Georgia BioMass first began operations at the pellet plant in the Waycross-Ware County Industrial Park, the company presented a case for having the best employees, trained to perfection, who would work in an environment of safety and efficiency.
The company employees celebrated Tuesday after operating for 1,000 days, dating to when the plant opened, without a work loss injury.
A festive celebration Tuesday featured a five-star meal and gifts for every employee. Each of the 83 employees was given a black insulated zip-up jacket with their first name embroidered.
The event included a lunch catered by KD’s Cafe, served during a noon break from work.
Brad Mayhew, plant manager, was overjoyed with the accomplishment of the 1,000 days without loss time injury and credited the employees of Georgia BioMass as being the reason for the celebration.
“It is the skill set and the mindset of our employees,” said Mayhew. “They are all being recognized for reaching this milestone. And it’s not just our employees’ safety, but that of the contractors and visitors and the citizens of the area. We operate a safe place to work.”
Mark Gaddy, vice president of operations, explained the milestone was reached because of the commitment of the employees and the company making sure everything is done in order and in good time.
“We are here today to congratulate this plant and the employees on the 1,000th day of safe operations,” said Gaddy. “Our company is predicated on a number of fundamental values and at the top of that list is safety. We believe we can operate around the clock without injuring our employees, the citizens or the community. It’s the hard work of the employees and their focus on the task that we can attain this (record). But let me say it is not about the record itself, but about the fact that no one has been injured or lost work because of it.”
Gaddy said Georgia BioMass is honoring its commitment to the people who live in the area and are going all out to make sure the plant is a safe place to work.
“We are very proud of our employees,” said Gaddy, “and I hope in another 1,000 days we can cele- brate 1,000 more and do this all again. One thousand days without injury is quite an accomplishment. And we want to make sure they know that we appreciate them.”
Gaddy noted that every job at the plant is important and everyone there has an important job.
“We don’t want them to be injured in a way that would affect their lives,” said Gaddy. “At the end of the day, a job is just that – a job. But the fact they can go home safe? That’s what it’s all about. We want to ensure they can earn a living and then go home and enjoy their life.”
Gaddy added that the company does not like shortcuts and is 100 percent in support of safety at every turn.
“We would rather take the time and do it right, and keep people safe,” said Gaddy. “We would rather shut down the plant than to put our employees at risk. We will not put them at risk. This is a great celebration because of what went into making it a reality.”
At the noon hour, all of the employees were invited to a buffet set up under a gazebo on the grounds of the plant where the folks from KD’s Cafe had prepared grilled ribeye steaks, baked potatoes, green beans, garden salad and peach cobbler, served with tea and lemonade.
Said Kevin Woods, of KD’s, “They asked us to bring our very best for their employees and that’s what we did. We want them to enjoy the food along with the celebration.”