Allow Your Great People to Make Decisions

Founded in 1984 to provide rescue services to refineries, Med-Tex Services today is a diversified Safety, Health and Rescue support resource for the construction, power, life sciences, higher education and healthcare industries. Its safety training department educates thousands annually on OSHA 10 and 30, fall protection, and many other topics and it was one of only a handful of organizations to have a course approved for the Pandemic Safety Officer training recognized through Philadelphia’s Department of Licenses and Inspections.

We spoke to company President Dennis M. Dougherty about growing the business, managing through COVID-19 and what it takes to be successful.

Tell us about your role as president.

It depends on the minute, hour or week. From one standpoint, I focus on our future: the strategic markets, client relationships and business offerings. Another aspect is business processes including insurance coverages, contract negotiations, pricing models, and cash flow management. The remainder of my time is less glamorous than people might think. I try to help with any operations support needed—from picking up lunch, to dropping off equipment. If it benefits the team, I’m happy to do it.

How would you describe the Med-Tex culture?

It is one of friends and family and work hard, play hard. Our culture really stems back to my father and his team. Many started as firefighters, so they had a firehouse mentality. The environment is typically jovial and happy but when it comes down to it – we all need to get the job done in a serious, professional way.

Though a situation may be stressful, the way you navigate it is solely based on your attitude.  As my wife says to my three little boys – and occasionally to me – you can only control your own behavior.

It seems like you’ve done nearly every job at Med-Tex. Do you need that breadth and depth of knowledge to be successful at the top of an organization?

Absolutely. Most of our management team has performed every function so we understand the struggles, frustrations, and intricacies of each task. At some point, our leaders have been on a rescue standby or safety project, laid out and rolled up supplied air line systems, performed respirator fit testing and packed up personal protective equipment for a client sale. We have all ‘been there/done that.’

How did COVID-19 change your business?

COVID-19 changed everything. We went from normal operations into full pandemic-support mode while adjusting every activity and precaution literally by the hour—for weeks and months. We never shut down. Our wonderful, reliable, brave and professional employees were out on the front lines in the early stages of the pandemic every day, and still are. We are so proud and impressed with their resilience and vigilance – I cannot thank them enough!

Med-Tex was very involved in the GBCA-led collaboration on protocols for worker and project safety during COVID-19. What lessons were learned?

The collaboration, the conversations and the effort among GBCA, Med-Tex, many other company safety leaders and the building trades was absolutely fantastic, especially during such an unstable and emotionally stressful time. Believe me, there were uncomfortable conversations, there was the occasional heated debate, but all in a progressive way. I believe there is a new respect for many people, companies and groups throughout our industry and I’m excited to see how relationships grow post-pandemic.

You’re known as a planner. What does strategic planning look like at Med-Tex?

It is a never-ending and ever-evolving part of our operation. We are lucky to have such a diverse client base, but that lends to the challenge of understanding different client needs and industry changes. As a company, we must be able to evolve and grow but more importantly, we need to anticipate where we need to be. So, in one regard, you have to maintain this well-oiled machine, but be able to pivot quickly depending on the always dynamic demands of clients.

A large part of navigating this successfully is allowing the great people you work with to make decisions. It is not always easy to relinquish control but if you surround yourself with smart, competent people, you need to let them operate and come to you for help when needed.

Related to our team, we are trying to offer our existing employees opportunities through professional development by supporting and paying for industry certifications while also hiring the best people available when we have an opening.

What do you look for in employees?

Reliability, knowledge, personality, drive, integrity

What inspired you to study environmental health and safety?

I grew up in the business on the rescue side of the house, so it felt like a natural progression to try to prevent incidents. Based on that clear path and encouragement from others at Med-Tex, I went to school for a Master’s in Safety. What I didn’t know at the time is how fun the industry is: the constant learning, the variety you experience in diverse environments and the cast of characters we have in safety!

What advice would you give someone looking to work in construction safety?

Be ready to learn constantly and leave your feelings at the door. You need to know the standards to help keep things compliant, but you also have to be a people person and a diplomat to help your stakeholders accomplish all their goals in the safest way possible.