Move dirt and grow people. That’s the mission of RCS Grading, a leading contractor in upstate South Carolina that levels and prepares land for development. The moving dirt part might sound simple, but RCS prides itself on going the extra mile for customers by developing cost-effective, efficient, and precise strategies to meet their needs. Just as important to RCS is growing its people, which means making sure they’re valued, encouraged, and given opportunities to thrive in their career.
The RCS Training Academy is a critical element to achieving this dual mission. That’s where new hires and long-time employees alike learn the “RCS way” of doing business and discover their own capacity for growth and personal betterment. When T.C. Gore, director of safety and training, was tasked with creating the academy, he decided the Promethean ActivPanel would be essential to its success.
“Over the years, RCS has grown to nearly 200 employees,” said Gore, who was hired to focus on safety and training for the booming business. “I was bringing a new level of instruction to this industry.” Having worked as an instructor in the medical and aviation sectors, Gore was well-versed in the various ways to teach different types of learners. He knew that for RCS employees, he needed to come up with a unique approach.
Tailoring training methods for visual learners
According to Gore, many RCS employees are visual learners. “They’re not sit down, read a book kind of guys,” he explained. “That just doesn’t fit very well into the overarching culture of our industry. But they’re very bright and very smart guys. You just have to reach them a different way.” That’s where Promethean came in.
“We needed the ability to teach concepts interactively and visually, not traditional methods of using handouts or PowerPoints,” Gore said.
Also important to Gore was standardizing the training curriculum, something that was imperative now that the company had grown exponentially over a short period of time. “It went from being a small company where the Christmas party could be done around a table at Cracker Barrel, to now, where we’re having to rent out an event barn for two nights,” he joked. “We’re having to change how we think about doing things.”
Learning the “RCS way”
The first function of the RCS Training Academy is to ensure all employees are trained to be completely compliant with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations as well as all other regulatory standards. The second is to impart the RCS way.
“We do things differently,” explained Gore. “Some things we do are above standards, things that you’re not going to learn in a classroom or from any other company. So we wanted to add that into our new hire training. When an employee comes on board, we’re not only making sure that they’re meeting compliance standards, but they’re also learning the RCS way from day one.”
What exactly is the RCS way? “It’s all the things that have been learned over the careers of our most talented employees,” said Gore. For example, one RCS superintendent noticed that elevation rods used to measure a ditch or trench wear down slightly over time, which can result in imprecise measurements and costly redoes. “So it’s teaching the guys that this is something that you have to pay attention to and be aware of, because it can have drastic consequences if you don’t do it right.”
Collaboration and communication beyond the classroom
The company is continually discovering new ways to utilize the ActivPanel both inside and outside the training room. RCS uses it to bring together company leadership, employees, customers, and partners all over the state for meetings, helping everyone feel more connected and included. And once a month, they gather with their sister companies to go over all the jobs they’re working on to answer questions, collect feedback, and voice concerns.
The panel also figures prominently in company planning sessions.
The whiteboard is fantastic for being able to brainstorm and get ideas written down in front of peopleT.C. Gore, Director of Safety and Training
noted Gore, who will put up diagrams and ask employees to take turns coming up to the board to annotate over them.
“For instance, if we’re having to do a flagging operation and shut down a lane of traffic, I can draw the work site with the roadway going through and say, ‘Alright, let’s preplan how we’re going to do this,’” said Gore. “How are we going to shut down this road to make sure that we can safely get equipment loaded and unloaded?”
The company has used its panels with the drone team, both to get a clearer picture of the work being done on the ground and to see the progress being made. “They’ll go out and take aerial drone photographs and we’ll display them on the panel,” explained Gore. “The project manager can annotate over that real photograph and slide back and forth. ‘OK, this is where our project was last month, and this is where it is this month.’ Just a swipe of the hand,” he marveled. “The productivity and the engagement of that meeting is palpable.”