The Dented Derby Club


You might say the Dented Derby Club is one of the most exclusive clubs in the construction industry. And, as luck would have it, Barton Malow’s own Chief Operating Officer Chuck Binkowski is a member in good standing. In fact, very good standing.

Today, Chuck’s brush with potential jobsite disaster is the stuff of corporate lore, but it represents an important core value of the Barton Malow culture: a commitment to safety, reinforced at the start of every day on every jobsite.

How the Dented Derby Club Began: A Symbol of Safety

At the start of 1963, the Detroit Chapter of Associated General Contractors established a rather uncommon fraternity — the Dented Derby Club — to draw attention to the importance of hard hats for the safety of all workers on large construction jobs. That year, the Michigan Contractor and Builder magazine chronicled the induction of the first two members who “met the basic qualification for membership in the club by avoiding serious or fatal injury on a construction project by wearing a hard hat.”

It happened in 1982 during construction of the General Motors Lake Orion, Michigan, plant. Long before he was appointed Chief Operating Officer, Chuck, then a new foreman, was walking between massive water tanks towering 40 feet in the air. He was talking on a radio to a truck driver who was refueling pumps in nearby retention ponds when the unexpected happened.

“I’m telling him where I’m walking to, and, all of a sudden, I slurred my words, and they couldn’t get ahold of me,” Chuck recalls. Little did he know there were painters cleaning debris off the tops of the water tanks.

“In a million years they would have never thought somebody was walking out in this field. A half-sheet of three-quarter-inch plywood hit dead center of my hard hat and split it in half. It drove me to my knees, as you can imagine. Next thing I know, I got (people) standing over me … waking me up and calling for medics.”

Thankfully, Chuck was OK, and thanks to the hard hat, Chuck lived to become a card-carrying member of the Dented Derby Club.

"You want to talk about really understanding the value of personal protective equipment? I wouldn't be here today if I didn’t have that hard hat on."

Chuck Binkowski

Chief Operating Officer

Leading the Industry in Safety

One Dented Derby winner at Barton Malow is more than enough. That’s why a proactive, robust strategy toward jobsite safety means Barton Malow is continually searching for the right equipment, training, and processes to get as close to zero incidents as possible.

In support of improving and innovating around jobsite safety, Barton Malow has taken on a leadership role with the Construction Safety Research Center, which was founded in 2021 in partnership with Lawrence Technological University, Detroit-based energy company DTE, Carhartt, and the City of Southfield, Michigan. Together, the partners conduct groundbreaking safety research that will lead to best practices and effective training programs.

For example, in recognizing the importance of personal protective equipment (PPE) compliance, Barton Malow helped create the “Good Catch” program, which encourages team members to provide feedback and to voice concerns, as well as supporting entrepreneurial team members who pitch ideas that can improve safety products, including PPE. Barton Malow also actively participates in the annual Construction Safety Week each May, engaging jobsites with stand-downs, demonstrations, and more.

Safety Week Stand Down Event

Annual Construction Safety Week stand-down event on a Barton Malow jobsite.

“We’ve come a long way when you think about the elevation of safety as a profession, as a career, and you think about how Barton Malow has gone from a singular safety leader to the breadth of safety leadership that we have and benefit from today,” says CEO Ryan Maibach. “It’s certainly worth noting how far we’ve come as an organization in terms of focus and dedication and commitment to safety, but certainly as well as an industry. We’re not alone in that, and that is very much an expectation and a really critical component of any successful construction.”

Safety: First and Foremost

As it says in the Barton Malow Safety Manual, “Each day Barton Malow builds people, projects, and communities with the goal of sending every worker home unharmed and satisfied with a job well done.”

From Chuck Binkowski’s perspective, Barton Malow’s focus on safety is part of the organization’s caring culture.

“You can never take your foot off the gas when it comes to safety.”

He’s proud to show his “Dented Derby Club” card, which is signed by one of the heads of OSHA and dated September 13, 1982. Chuck may have earned his membership the hard way, but the lessons learned from that incident and the focus on safety thereafter has undoubtedly made jobsites safer.

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