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Customer Story: How Dick Hannah Creates a People-Focused Safety Culture

Toby Graham /

“Believe in Nice.” At Dick Hannah, those three words are more than a tagline. They’re a call to action: do the right thing every day, in every way, at every opportunity.

For over 70 years, Dick Hannah has proven that believing in nice is a winning business strategy. As competitors have struggled to stay afloat in an environment marked by constant change, escalating customer expectations, and high rates of employee turnover, the family-owned auto group has sustained a steady pattern of growth and success.

The Challenge: Siloed HR and EHS programs create workforce risk

Today, Dick Hannah operates more than a dozen dealerships, as well as two motorsports stores, two body shops, a finance arm, and a pair of insurance agencies. All told, headcount totals approximately 1,000 employees at 18 locations in the Pacific Northwest.

That’s a lot of people to keep happy, engaged at work, and—most importantly—out of harm’s way. It hasn’t always been easy. Several years ago, as CFO Christopher Foy explained, issues and gaps in the company’s safety program were at unacceptable levels.

“Safety meetings were not happening consistently, or in a consistent format,” said Foy. “We needed to know: ‘Where are we coming up short? Where can we be better? And how do we document that?’”

To answer those questions, Dick Hannah made two improvements to its program. First, the company engaged with KPA, one of the largest environmental health and safety compliance and workforce management providers in the middle market. Dick Hannah has leveraged KPA’s expert consultants to perform safety meetings, audits, and other on-site services.

Second, in late 2015 Dick Hannah hired Glenn Archer as safety director. Working across the organization and leveraging the KPA EHS software system, Archer has been able to pinpoint areas of risk and take corrective actions.

“Some of the things that seem easiest can be serious challenges, particularly safety data sheets and container labeling, as well as training,” he said. “Reducing injuries and mitigating when they do happen, trying to reduce the severity, ensuring early returns to work, managing light duty—all of that is big on my plate.

Using KPA safety management software has been a big help to Glenn as he has improved the company’s EHS program.

“One of the biggest things I like is the SDS library,” said Archer. “The KPA team has gone to so many dealerships and logged in so many chemicals that it’s rare to find a chemical that is not in that database.”

Despite the positive changes to the safety program, some inefficiencies in Dick Hannah’s overall employee compliance program still existed. Specifically, the company needed to update their HR compliance software solution and the management team decided to sign up with a vendor that seemed like a good choice at the time, touting their solution as a “leading talent management system.”

It wasn’t long before the team realized they were not the right HR compliance partner.

“We were unimpressed with not only the product but the company as a whole,” Foy said. “They were very difficult to work with—very corporate and rigid. It felt like more of an adversarial relationship. They just have their boilerplate approach, and you fit in it or else. There’s no deviating from their plan.”

The auto group defined by its belief in nice had wound up with a provider that believed quite the opposite.

“To put it nicely,” said Foy, “I don’t like them at all.”

The Solution: Dick Hannah turns to KPA as all-in-one EHS and HR compliance partner

Fortunately, Dick Hannah soon found its way out of the negative vendor relationship by expanding its solution set with KPA.

In addition to leveraging KPA software to manage their safety program, Dick Hannah engaged with KPA to deploy an HR software system to streamline workforce management and track HR compliance throughout the employee life cycle. From employee onboarding to document management and performance management, the new system will enable Dick Hannah to engage and retain top talent across the organization.

“I appreciate being able to write employees up and have an electronic paper trail of disciplinary actions and acknowledgments of policies,” added Foy. “When you’re faced with an employee saying, ‘no, I didn’t do that,’ or ‘I didn’t see that.’ you can say, ‘yeah, you did—here’s where you signed it.’ You can send anything you want an employee to acknowledge that they’ve received.”

Both Foy and Archer appreciate having key safety and business processes automated in a single system.

“I like that the system automatically assigns the appropriate training modules depending on the job position,” said Archer. “And then I can download either the individual store’s completion report or the complete picture. I can generate a graph showing where all our dealerships stand as far as percent completion.”

The Result: Dick Hannah sees better safety and compliance outcomes, along with a stronger organizational culture

As a safety professional, Archer can easily quantify the impact KPA’s combined HR and EHS solution has had at Dick Hannah.

“Training completion rates are usually in the high 90s,” he said. “We have several stores that are regularly 100%. The general managers all see how their team is in compliance with the training. They’re very competitive by nature, so this has been a great tool for me to share.”

Across its rooftops, Dick Hannah scores high in terms of safety as well as employee satisfaction scores—the auto group has an average of 4.3 stars on Glassdoor.

Archer and Foy have also noticed results that are non-quantifiable but no less significant. Both are happy to have a platform and a partner that works with their company rather than against it.

“KPA has always worked with us as a partner,” said Foy. “We’ve recently added locations and made adjustments to locations. KPA has been very reasonable on how that is accomplished, working with us to make implementation as manageable as possible.”

“The tech support has been great,” added Archer. “Maybe some employee is having difficulty completing a course, or for whatever reason a test isn’t working. KPA has been spot on in helping sort out those issues. My local rep is quick to reply with everything I need, along with recommendations.”

At Dick Hannah, a culture of believing in nice has grown into a true safety culture. As with all of the company’s successes, it wouldn’t be possible without the right people—Archer, Foy, and KPA’s consultants—powered by the right software platform.

It was everything Dick Hannah was looking for: a comprehensive HR and safety compliance platform steeped in dealership-specific expertise.

Thousands of dealers nationwide, including 8 of the top 10 dealership groups, rely on KPA’s expertise.

Our automotive-specific proficiency and content provide consistent and reliable EHShuman resources, and sales and F&I compliance solutions:

  • Facility audits
  • Deal jacket audits
  • EHS program management
  • Online and on-site compliance training
  • Hiring, onboarding, and employee retention tools

The combination of KPA’s software platform, EHS and F&I consulting services and award-winning training content helps dealers minimize risk so they can focus on what’s important—selling and servicing cars. For over 30 years, KPA has helped 10,000 + clients achieve regulatory compliance, protect assets, and retain top talent.

Learn how we can help your dealership.

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