Chandler Cullor from HUB International Talks About COVID-19’s Effect on the Workforce

The HL Restoration Impacting Midwest Industries vlog series is where our very own Steve Tutt speaks with our industry partners and others about what they do, their passion, and the great things they are doing in the Midwest all while having a little bit of fun! Click here to view all of our videos and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Steve Tutt: Welcome back to HL Restorations Impacting Midwest industries. I’ve got my co-owner and president of HL next to me, Charlie Penner. Welcome, Charlie. Thank you, Steve, and Chandler, great to have you. 

And we also have Chandler. Chandler’s with HUB International and we’re glad to have you today, Chandler

Chandler Cullor: Thank you for having me. Great to be here.

About Chandler and HUB International

ST: Well, we’re going to have some fun we’re going to just dive right into this. I want to know a little bit about you Chandler. How long have you been with HUB International? 

CC: So, coming up on eight months now but I’ve been in the business for 22. I actually grew up in the construction business down in southeast Kansas. I’ve been in it my whole life. My family sold that business in 1997 and I was looking for something where I can stay connected with that industry. 

So, I got started with a little firm called Crutcher Heartland and grew that to 150 employees over the last 22 years and just actually sold that operation to HUB International, who has been a fantastic partner of ours in August of 2019. So, a little bit of a change but I still do the same thing I did before, I just don’t have my name hanging over it. 

ST: Well, congratulations. So, what does HUB stand for? Give us a little bit of history about that.

CC: So, HUB is the largest independently held brokerage firm in the world. They’ll do a little over $5 billion in revenues this year and what their strong suit is and where they’ve really found their niche is to go in and find operations in cities like Kansas City, and good people, people that have good support, people that know the industry and then basically they give them resources. 

So, they came in, and they’ve taken over our operation and our accounting operation, but everything else has stayed the same. So what you get with HUB is, and this is what excited me about partnering with him, and my business was, they keep you local, but they give you international capabilities, meaning we’ve got people in the aviation industry, the trucking industry, the construction industry, real estate industry. 

In fact, right now, we’ve got an industry that’s just blowing up right now is cannabis all over the country, especially here in Missouri. And what HUB has allowed us to do is a little brokering like trusting 150 employees that we can now plug into all of these resources and bring those to Kansas City. 

So, they’ve really left us alone, we’re autonomous, and we pretty much run our own operation. We hire, we fire, we retain our employees, we recruit, but now we’ve just got so many more resources behind us from a loss control standpoint from whatever type of industry that you might be in. We’ve got people that have expertise in that specific area.

ST: I will say, selfish plug for Chandler, being a HUB client, when you made the switch over, I didn’t even change any phone numbers in my phone. All the people that I would contact regularly over there, everybody’s phone number was the same.

CC: That was the thing that attracted me towards them. And we talked to a lot of people when we were thinking about doing this and making a change with the way we were running our business. 

But, you know, I’ve been a business owner in Kansas City for 20 years. This community means everything to me, and I wanted to keep as much as I could of the operation that we’ve built over the last two decades. 

I wanted to keep our people because that is the most important asset that we have in our company. And so, HUB made that very easy to do, and that’s why we are a HUB agency. Now, I’m very excited about the change and mostly because we haven’t seen that much change. 

But what we have been, what we have seen from a chain standpoint, is just having more resources to provide people like you, Charlie, and even Steve.

ST: Well, that, my friends, is how you impact Midwest industries. Right. Is there anything else you want to add on how you’re impacting the Midwest industries? Because you really did cover quite a bit right there.

CC: No, I think I think we’re here and we’re excited about it. And you know, I think we’re going to talk a little bit about COVID-19 and kind of what we’re all experiencing today. I was telling you guys just right before we started this broadcast, that the things that we can provide people like you are so timely and so quick, and it would’ve taken us months and weeks to produce that as a little independent agency.

Now literally, we can have this stuff at our fingertips. And so, you know, we are the same people. We are the same agency; we have the same professionals. We just have more depth to provide Midwest industries.

ST: Now, how long have you known Charlie? And HL Restorations?

CC: Well, let’s see about 15 years. So, I think when Charlie started the business, we were kind of talking back then. And we’ve seen each other socially at professional events and things like that. So, we’ve known each other for a long time.

ST: So be honest with me, Chandler. Is he really any good at golf because I’ve never even played with you know, now I played with you, and you’re now saying, you kicked our butt.

CC: Well, we were, but you really did kick everybody, but we use your ball most of the time, Charlie, and I spend most of our time having breakfast with one another. So, we haven’t got a chance to get out and hit the ball yet.

ST: So, can you even golf, Charlie? I have never seen anybody or heard anybody ever say that they played golf with you yet. I have a couple of pals that I play with, but I truly like to play golf with my boys. That’s when I have the most fun out there and watching them improve and get better.

My youngest, my 14-year-old, he’s really taking to it right now. We had a lesson with the pro last Wednesday evening, and I’m telling you if he’ll stick with it, he can really do something with the game. 

It’s a great sport for bonding with your son because where else can you have two or three hours just walking around or riding around talking? You just mentioned you had a full two-year-old right earlier on before we started.

CC: I have a 17-year-old daughter, a 14-year-old son, and a 13-year-old daughter, so all packed in there together. But from a golf perspective, you can’t get much better time than that with your kids.

COVID-19’s Effect on Workers

ST: All right, well, let’s jump right to it. The COVID-19 pandemic. It challenges a lot of aspects to the workplace. So as businesses attempt to return back to work, and there are many new liabilities, risk, employer’s obligations to consider how to, as an employer, assess, implement and communicate new policies and procedures moving forward.

CC: Well, I think I think you said it there. First and foremost is just communication. I mean, I think employees just want to hear that it’s out there, that you are listening to what the experts are saying, that you have a plan. 

Employees worry when you don’t communicate, so I think that’s kind of the first step in this whole back to work kind of stage that we’re in at this point. You know OSHA has a general duty clause; you have to provide a safe work environment for your employees. That’s kind of rule number one of what OSHA does. 

What we have to do is we have to come to people, and we just need to be communicating about cleaning our hands and proper procedure when it is sick. Be flexible. Adjust to your employees needs and make sure that you are keeping them top of mind when it comes to safety and health. 

I think workers’ compensation. I think a lot of employers worry about workers’ compensation. So, if you have employees in the workplace and they come in, and they might get sick, is that a workers’ compensation claim? I would say 95% of the time, it’s not. You have to demand the monster bubble proof that you caught a COVID-19 virus from the workplace, and it’s very challenging to do. 

So, I don’t expect to see workers’ compensation claims being covered by workers’ compensation unless you’re a health care worker. Obviously, we’ve got doctors and nurses and first responders out there on a daily basis that are facing this head-on. I think a lot of states have asked workers’ compensation carriers to cover those claims from an employer standpoint.

ST: Well, I actually did read your book, and we were referring to this. A couple of things that struck me that I wasn’t aware of is prohibiting anyone entering who has experienced COVID-19 symptoms. That’s something in the communication. 

But the other one that really caught me off guard was that if, if you’ve actually had a COVID-19 case in your facility, you need to post it. And that was something when I read that I thought, our HR person probably knows that but that was absolutely news to me. That I’m supposed to put a sign out there. 

That says, “Hey, by the way…” Because usually, anything health-related, I mean, company confidential, I don’t even ask the HR department about it, because if I don’t need to know this, then keep it in there.

CC: That’s probably one of the biggest changes. I mean, if somebody comes in and is pregnant, you can’t ask about that. If they’re over 65, you can’t ask about that. That’s kind of the way we’re programmed, right? 

I mean, we don’t want to discriminate, but we are encouraged to ask our employees. Have you had a fever? Have you had chills? Do you have a cough? We’re being encouraged to ask those questions to keep other people safe. And so, I think that right down the road. Have communication, which is kind of where I first started, right? 

We need to be asking those questions because we have more than one person to be responsible for here. We need to know if we have that exposure. So yeah, there’s a health screening questionnaire back there. 

There’s kind of an opposite office reopening checklist, you know, what do I need to do to take the right steps to make sure we’re safe and reopening our office? And I didn’t think about this when I was actually reading through this was a property checklist. You know, a lot of these places have been shut down for the last 60 days is the HVAC. 

Do we have any leaks? Do we have any fire exposures? Going through the property and making sure that everything is ready to run. And so, again, making sure our employees are safe when they return to the workplace.

ST: So just to be clear on this playbook that you’ve got, this is open to the public to grab off the website?

CC: Absolutely. So, you can go to HUBInternational.com, and you’ll see it on the screen, very easy to find COVID Resource Center, and literally, from property and casualty information to health insurance information for your employees, there are HR resources in there, etc.

ST: You can spend days on this, but I think it’s important for you to it’s easy to navigate, you can find what you need. And if you have questions out there, then I would encourage you to go there. You can also contact me directly, and you can get my email address.

I think you’ll probably post it up there, but please contact me. I’m more than happy to help you get direction on where you’re headed. It’s been kind of, it’s been challenging to get kind of through all the information that you’ve been thrown. So, I’ve been trying to be very diligent and not pounding you guys with just information in your notebook, in your email box, because there’s just so much out there. 

But I think what the important thing to convey here is that there are resources out there. Here’s a great place to start right now. We appreciate you sharing it with us. How should employers hire and recruit?

CC: I think that that’s a big challenge these days. It will go back to the way it was in the past. We hope so. But I think it’s different right now. I think the person the person interviews would be challenging right now. 

Drug screening, strength testing, things like that, that’s close quarters. I think you need to have the online capability where you can communicate and recruit for people that come into your workplace and be productive fellow citizens of the organization. 

But right now, what I’m hearing is a lot of people are looking at outsourcing that recruiting, which is, you know, it can be expensive to do that. But you think about maybe the ease of doing that if your business is growing and you have to have people in there. It takes all the applications, the screening, the drug testing, the physical capacity testing.

ST: But right now, with unfortunately the unemployment rate doing what it’s doing, this is a very good time to be out looking and talking with people. I mean, as unfortunate as that is, there’s a business side to this, that there’s a lot of people who, pre-COVID-19, were not looking fully, gainfully employed. 

Maybe looking back saying, you know what, I’m not so sure I liked it that much. There’s definitely a lot of opportunities out there for employers for talent, and it’s balancing the two pieces together, which happens so often in business.

CC: I think it’s asking the right questions. I mean, it’s the same way when you’re communicating with your employees. Those are definitely questions you want to be asking them. I want to remind everybody this, you know, we still do have HIPAA, we still do have FM, LA, we have ADA and all these compliance things that we need to be dealing with. 

So, this is a little bit of a change. I mean, we need to be asking these questions that are health information. But at the same time, we need to be keeping those confidential and then communicating that we have a case of COVID without getting that to a specific person. 

I think we just need to remember that and be reminded; we need to be communicating, asking questions, but we also need to maintain confidentiality and medical information for our employees.

ST: I have people ask me all the time, they’re like, “What do you think this is going to look like in moving forward on screening people when they come into work?” Can you touch on that a little bit?

CC: You have every right to have a thermometer and check people when they come into work. I think that that’s a very proactive step. In the construction industry, I think it may be a little challenging to do that on the job site, but I think it depends on how aggressive you want to be. 

Some people it’s really important to, and they’re going to test everybody that comes into the job site every day. I think we have a job site here in Kansas City that had some COVID exposure where we had a few employees catch it, and every day on the job site, they’re checking temperatures. 

I’ve got a sheet metal worker, a good friend of mine, Jeff Steel, and every day he goes on the job, he’s getting this temporary check to make sure that he’s in a good position. So, I think every employer is different, it just depends on where you want to be on the spectrum.

ST: If you’re in more of a manufacturing or close proximity by virtue of the industry, I think that’s a separate thing.

CC: Any high density, I think if you’re working in the high-density job site, where you have, you know, maybe 10 or 15 construction workers in close proximity, there’s just no way you can keep six feet of separation. You’re just going to have to get close. Maybe they’re going to be a little bit more aggressive about that, but if you’ve got two guys out on a job site, it’s pretty spread out.

ST: My real question is when it comes to that athletics here in Kansas City, I mean, do you really see the Royals and Chiefs checking people’s temperatures when they come in the game? Do you think that’s where we’re going? 

CC: I hope we have baseball this year with fans in the stand. I think they’re very conservative around that. I think that Chiefs will be the same way. I’ve been told that maybe they’re going to not have fans in the stands for the first few games. I’m not sure, but I think you absolutely will see temperature checks for sure. 

And I think it really depends on where this goes. I mean, we just passed 100,000 cases yesterday. What happens next? Does the rate continue to climb, or do we continue to see it fall off? That’s going to really dictate a lot of where this goes with large public group settings with hundreds of thousands of people, right?

ST: Now, you mentioned earlier about confidentiality, if I come in here tomorrow, and Charlie checks my temperature, and I go get tests, and I got COVID-19, how’s that play out with the confidential medical information?

CC: I think Charlie has to communicate that someone in the office has it and probably can’t be discussed with anybody else except Charlie and maybe HR. I think the tighter you can keep that, meaning if you have an HR professional on staff, you have one person that’s responsible for that. 

They keep all the records and keep them locked at night where nobody else can have access to them. Then, you know, you’ve got to communicate to your employees that you have a case and I think you need to take more aggressive actions on, do we have proper procedures? Can we be more flexible on working hours with people? Are we providing hand sanitizer? Are we providing tissues? Have we instructed our employees on how to cough properly?

ST: Well, that’s good. I’ll probably be going to the Bahamas or somewhere like that, Charlie, working from there if that’s okay. Remotely. I want to stay away from people. You mentioned you had some tips you could share protecting employees, health, and safety. You should run through those and then we’ll put them on the screen.

CC: I think number one, encourage sick employees to stay at home. If you’re not feeling well, everybody needs to feel comfortable staying at home and not feel like they’re going to be their job. Jobs can be in jeopardy.

ST: My biggest pet peeve for forever has been people coming in here, and they want to work, but they’re coughing, sneezing, I’m like, go home.

CC: Number three is to promote etiquette for coughing and sneezing and hand washing. So, we just saw that I mean, people need to know that I would post that. Develop flexible policies, right? I mean, just be flexible with your employees and try to be as productive as we can. 

I mean, that’s pretty easy. Have a cleaning crew come in. You guys are cleaning experts. I think you’ve probably been asked by a lot of your customers, “Can you come in and make sure that we don’t have any virus in our facilities?” but I think that’s an important step to take.

ST: One of the things that we’ve done for our employees or our clients is we’ve actually provided a product with a 30-second kill grade on it. We just went over and said here, “This is what you want to be wiping surfaces down with those kinds of things.” 

And then the CDC came out and said, well, it really doesn’t get transmitted that well by surfaces. And I said, Okay, they’ve changed it a few times, but when you run out of that, give me a holler. I’ll bring you some more because it’s just that kill time duration is so important. 

If you spray something that has a five-minute kill time well, nobody’s going to wait five minutes for it to re engage beyond that. If you can get that kill time down to 30 seconds, you’ve got something that is beneficial to a client.

CC: I think that’s important. Employees want to know they’re safe, and if you can take that step to have some cleaning operations come in on a nightly basis or weekly basis, whatever you feel is correct, I think we should take that step. 

Training materials, stuff like this playbook. There are some great resources on our website where you can go in and plugin and print those off and provide those to your employees. There’s new stuff all the time. People rely on people like us to provide you with new, fresh information that people will find interesting. We talk a lot about communication. 

Communication, very limited hours, so you know, cut your staff in half. So, half comes in from 8 to 12, and a half comes in from 1 to 5, and that way, you have less exposure. Separate customer and employee seating area. You have a break room back here if you’ve got 20 people in there for lunch, that’s maybe a touchy situation. 

So maybe space that out a little bit, or shut it down. I was at a hotel the other day for a meeting, and they had the restaurant shut down. I was like, “What’s going on?” They said, “We just can’t. When you’re staying in the hotel, we can’t keep people from going in there. It’s just too much of a hassle.” 

So, they just shut it down to keep people from congregating. Then consider vendors that need to be in your office. I mean, just consider who you need to see. That’s my take, others might feel differently. Just develop policies and communicate those policies. It’s ever-changing. Rely on people like us to provide you and help you with that and just communicate.

ST: Okay, so personal question. Have you gone to a restaurant yet?

CC: I have actually. I celebrated my 20th anniversary yesterday. So, we were out last night. I told my wife this, I said, “This is nice,” and she’s like, “Yeah, this is great. It was a little quiet but great food. It was fantastic, and it was quiet, which you really don’t usually get in a great restaurant. It’s kind of refreshing.

ST: I had a couple of guys last week say, “What are you thinking? We’re going to go grab lunch.” And I was like, “I am in.” It was tremendous. It was refreshing. It was nice to be back out. I didn’t know I missed it. 

Well, I’m going to change the gears here really quickly, and we’re going to have some fun with you, Chandler. We’re going to ask you some really fun questions. Which TV sitcom would you star in?

CC: Well, probably Seinfeld. I’m thinking George, maybe Kramer.

ST: What did you want to be when you grew up?

CC: Baseball player. I wanted to be in the outfield. I love the outfield. I love to catch balls, and I was a pretty decent hitter.

ST: What was your average?

CC: I probably was around the 300 range in high school.

ST: If you were a drink, what would you be?

CC: I would be old fashioned for sure.

ST: What is your most treasured possession?

CC: I’d say, my kids. I don’t know if that’s a possession or not I take pretty good care of them. I try to anyway. So, I would say I would say, my kids and my family.

ST: What is some funny advice someone gave you?

CC: Well, Bert Crusher, who started our original agency back in 1974, we were making some calls and stuff and who’s watching this young guy was probably 22 at the time, and he looked at me, and he said, “The camel only has to get his nose in the tent, and great things will happen.” I just thought that was awesome. 

What he meant by that was, you’ve got to keep pushing, and once you get a little toe in there, or nose in this case of the camel in the tent, good things will happen. You’ll start to meet people, and you’ll make connections, and you’ll start building relationships, and that’s really what it takes.

ST: I like that’s great. Well, Chandler, thank you for joining us. We really appreciate your coming in the studio. If you guys have any questions for Chandler, feel free to make any comments, but if you want to get a hold of Chandler, we’re giving the information now on the screen. It’s been great. I can’t wait to get on the golf course with you. Maybe you can give me some lessons.

Looking for more interviews like this one? Check out our series of vlogs to listen to Steve Tutt interview professionals about the happenings in the industry. If you would like to learn more about HL Restoration, then take a look at all of the services we provide, from mold remediation to storm restoration.