Posted by & filed under Lumber Person of the Year.

If there’s one word that best describes John Dubrowin’s career, it’s safety.

“I’ve always tried to teach and train safety measures so that my employees would not be injured and that they could go home the same way they arrived in the morning,” he explains. “This has been a focus point my entire career. I do not have any formal education in this field except my personal experiences and feet on the ground correcting bad safety behaviors.”

He started working in the lumber business in 1978, at 25 years old, as a yard associate and truck helper for Diamond Lumber. He worked his way up to dispatcher at Lakeland Lumber and branch manager at Continental Lumber. It didn’t take long for him to recognize the importance of workplace safety.

“Early in my career, there was no formal training required for forklifts and other things. I had some minor forklift incidents and I also had a job site accident delivering sheetrock to a house under construction,” he recalls.

After a couple more stops at Beacon Sales and Home Depot, John wound up at Sanford & Hawley in Unionville, Connecticut, where he’s remained for the past 26 years. His tenure there is fitting, given the company’s own longevity: a fourth-generation (with the fifth making their way up) company with 137 years of history in the same location – and a few others they’ve added along the way.

Climbing the ladder from the dispatcher to branch manager to human resources director, he saw an opportunity to protect the safety of the company’s employees and the health of its finances.

“When I became the HR director and moved away from the front line sales and service functions, I decided the best way to add value to the company was to improve the bottom line by reducing injuries, which had an impact on our insurance premiums and helped lower some of our expenses,” he says.

Sanford & Hawley worked closely with the OSHA branches in Connecticut