In 2014, Coca-Cola Bottling Company
Consolidated announced it would
be expanding its territory over the
following two years, but didn’t specify
by how much.
“The information trickled out
slowly, and I got the sense that we
were going to grow much more than
I originally anticipated,” said Steve
Richards, director of claims and
litigation for the company.
His premonition was correct.
He expected Coca-Cola to grow its
workforce by about 50 percent, which
would bring the payroll up to roughly
10,000 employees. Instead, it almost
tripled in size, increasing the number
of workers to upwards of 14,000.
Since the initial announcement, the
company also acquired 25 new locations
across six states. With a massive influx
of new workers — both union and
non-union — and varying state laws to
contend with, the workers’ compensation
program faced some growing pains.
In an effort to head off the expected
spike in workers’ comp claims,
Richards conducted a comprehensive
review of the program, allowing him
to identify the primary drivers of
claim costs, the suitability of network
penetration, and inefficiencies in claims
“We had an unbundled program
that wasn’t scalable,” Richards said.
“Some of our partners in the unbundled
model couldn’t handle the flood of new
employees. We needed partners with
more providers so there were more
in-network options for our workers,
which also leads to greater cost savings.
Bundling the program expanded our
Implementing stricter loss control
measures was also a key feature of the
program overhaul. But overcoming
cultural differences among the new
workers and locations took persistence
and consistency of message.
“We lead with safety,” Richards
said. “Some of the new territories were
not accustomed to strict loss control
and were more skeptical of leadership.
They were used to different claims-
filing procedures, different payment
methods … a totally different work
injury experience. We want to make
that experience as easy as possible, and
it took time to convince them that the
changes were in their best interest.”
Prior to the expansion, 6 to 7 percent
of the employee population would be
injured at any given time. Since acquiring
the new locations, that figure initially
jumped to 10 to 15 percent, but has
since dropped down to 8 to 9 percent.
“The longer workers stay on
with us, the more I expect to see that
number drop as they grow more used
to our safety program,” Richards said.
He also streamlined the approach
to claims management in an effort to
improve cost control and speed up
“Steve’s engagement and
expertise, not to mention his great
communication skills, provided the
foundation from which we were
able to meet CCBCC’s needs during
the transition process,” said Sharon
LaCour, account principal, Gallagher
Bassett. “Partnering with Coca-Cola
Bottling Co. Consolidated — and
especially working with Steve Richards
— demonstrated the value of true
Seeing Opportunity in Expansion
Steve Richards masterfully recalibrated Coca-Cola’s workers’ comp program when
the company rapidly added 25 locations and thousands of new employees.
Risk management encompasses more
than insurance and safety programs,
thought Frank Russo, senior vice
president of risk and legal affairs and
the privacy officer for Silverado Senior
Living. So, he asked himself, what
could he do to utilize risk management
practices throughout his company?
“We, both myself and the executive
team, including our CEO, recognized
that there were initiatives in place that
could involve risk management. Risk
could be part of the discussion,” he said.
“There’s no secret sauce to it;
visibility, relationship building and
trust would be key to integrating risk
Russo approached department heads
within Silverado—from finance to
marketing, HR to sales—and spoke on
risk management. He showed the value
in having risk management practices
within each aspect of the company, and
soon Russo was gaining responsibility
in areas managed by others.
In HR, he earned a place in
the hiring process. In marketing,
“Risk management and legal are a
strong part of the company’s culture
now,” Russo explained. “We’ve made
ourselves available, made a place where
people want to talk to us.”
Joanne Wankmiller, managing
principal and senior care practice
leader at Integro Insurance Brokers has
worked with Russo since the start of
his Silverado career.
“Frank continues to be very
collaborative with brokers, third-party
vendors and insurance carriers. He
reins in as many resources as he can
find,” Wankmiller said.
And Silverado’s seen the results.
Frequency of employment practice
liability claims was reduced by 19
percent since risk management became
an integral component of Silverado
operations. Severity of EPL claims
was reduced by 22 percent, frequency
of general liability and professional
liability claims was reduced by 19
percent and total cost of turnover was
reduced by 10 percent.
“Workers’ comp claims have been
reduced, which I think translates over
to resident safety,” said Wankmiller.
Russo didn’t stop at numbers; safety
and protection were paramount, due to
the nature of Silverado’s work, caring
for elderly people who suffer from
Alzheimer’s or other memory loss
“We have families asking us to care
for their loved ones, so there’s a lot of
risk to think about,” said Russo.
One area where Russo improved
safety protocols was in active shooter
“The assisted living industry, as
a whole, never had assisted living-specific active shooter training,” Russo
Russo and the Silverado team
created their own active shooter
training video and made it free to the
“We saw the need and made it
happen,” he added.
Having a CEO, an executive team
and a board that wanted risk involved
in the day-to-day operations made
Russo’s initiative possible.
— Autumn Heisler
Risk Management in Memory Care
Frank Russo integrated risk management throughout his company, building a
strong and collaborative risk culture.
“We needed partners with more
providers so there were more
in-network options for our
workers, which also leads to
greater cost-savings. Bundling the
program expanded our access to
— Steve Richards, Director Claims & Litigation,
Coca-Cola Bottling Company Consolidated
“Risk management and legal are
a strong part of the company’s
culture now. We’ve made ourselves
available, made a place where
people want to talk to us.”
— Frank Russo, senior vice president of risk and legal
affairs, Silverado Senior Living