Safety Bob – Charisma in Motion

March 30th, 2009 by

Julie Ferguson’s gut-wrenching post from Thursday morning, “It’s Spring…and the Start of Trench Death Season,” made me think of a truly remarkable gentleman that I met a few months ago in North Carolina – Bob Synnett. Mr. Synnett, or Safety Bob, as he’s known in the Carolinas, is a great big bundle of charismatic energy. I’ve been meaning to write about him for a while, and Julie’s post kicked my feeble brain into gear.
I met Safety Bob when I visited my friend Charlie Tagman, CEO of CIC, the Carolinas AGC Insurance Company, in Charlotte, NC. One of the smartest people I know in the world of workers’ compensation, Charlie created TPA Associates in 1992 and sold the company to Meadowbrook Insurance Group in 1999. Following that, everyone expected him to fold his tents, steal off into the night and rest on his laurels. But if you know anything about entrepreneurs, you know that’s pathologically impossible. So Charley started helping out the CAGC Self-Insurance Trusts in North and South Carolina as a consultant. One thing led to another, and as he became more deeply involved, the CAGC leadership realized that the best thing for everyone would be to ask Charlie to take over the whole workers’ compensation operation as CEO. He did that, and in short order converted the Trusts into a domestic insurance carrier.
Charlie had asked me to visit, take a look at the CIC operation and tell him what I thought. So after spending a couple of days in his relatively new, but extremely well run, insurance company, the best I could come up with, after 35 years in this business, was to suggest that perhaps he ought to move his desk about six inches to the right!
Anyway, one of the very smart moves Charlie had made was to contract with Bob Synnett (you were wondering when I would get back to Safety Bob, weren’t you?) to provide safety and loss control services for his insureds in South Carolina.
Bob Synnett is a Carolinian through and through. A graduate of the University of South Carolina, he played football on some pretty good Gamecock squads of the early 1980s under Coach Jim Carlen. A big guy, but never a starter, he told me that the high water mark of his college football career was being expected to tackle George Washington Rogers every afternoon at practice. Wincing slightly, he described some eye-popping bruises earned the hard way as he tried to get in front of the human locomotive who outpointed Hugh Green, of Pittsburgh, and Herschel Walker, of Georgia, to win the Heisman Trophy in 1980. Mr. Rogers was the irresistible force to Mr. Synnett’s very moveable object.
Safety Bob knows his OSHA up and down, back and forth. But what he really excels in is training. He’s created a safety orientation DVD for employees in the construction industry that had me hooked within the first five minutes. Although the DVD is aimed at new employees, it’s a superb refresher course for everyone. Here’s a link to some excerpts.
The excerpt on excavation and trenching is well done and truly memorable, and makes Julie’s post of 26 March hit home even harder.
At the Insider, we have a rule about remaining objective and independent. We also don’t usually recommend or hype commercial products. But for today only, I’m bending that rule a little bit by suggesting that, if you have anything to do with the construction industry, you could do a lot worse than checking out Bob Synnett’s new employee indoctrination video. Lynch Ryan staff has shown this video to about 300 contractor employers during training seminars. Viewers have been universally impressed. I’m betting that will be your reaction, as well. By the way, the DVD comes in both English and Spanish versions.
Finally, in the department of full disclosure, neither Lynch Ryan nor Workers Comp Insider has any commercial of financial relationship with either Safety Bob or any other provider of loss control services.