Safety & Training

Rio Grande Fence Co. of Nashville provides a robust employee safety and training program whereby each member of our team learns how to represent the ideals in our slogan: The Commercial Fence Professionals™.

This featured phrase is printed on our company t-shirts, training documents, time sheets, advertisements and the custom logo fence screen at our office. The phrase fits perfectly in sync with the ideals our staff learns from our training classes and the aim of our company as a B2B contractor. Through our various training sessions, we learn as a group to be a professional in everything we do. Our work and safety standards are high, so that nobody is confused as to the “Rio Grande Way” at our company. Expectations are clear by having this motto in front of us every workday.

Our Program Includes

Weekly Professional Safety Meetings
As part of keeping our employees safe and educated on the latest safety trends, we host a weekly safety meeting with 100% team participation. This standard allows us to succeed in our stated safety goals by having constant communication with each other. Perfect safety years are a rare occasion but are starting to become the standard at Rio Grande Fence Co. of Nashville. Employees lead most classes with discussion topics generated from feedback in the field. We enjoy the opportunity to host representatives from Tennessee 811 for our annual one-call training to promote safe digging. Our company’s preferred tool vendor, Hilti, has a great Nashville office that volunteers to lead multiple classes each year on the latest safety practices and tool advancements. Local contractor groups, ABC & AGC, have safety series DVDs that help supplement our teachings. Our safety meetings are designed to spark conversation. At the end of each class, we ask for feedback on the topic, or on anything else our staff may want to bring up as a safety concern. Our employees stay engaged in our company’s safety process by learning together and asking great questions each week. We have benefited from hearing great safety ideas in these meetings that have turned into successful updates to our program.

Annual Red Wing Safety Boot Distribution Day
Our safety boot distribution program, started in 2013, provides employees with a free pair of Red Wing steel toe safety boots each December. We have not only sustained zero foot related injuries since the implementation of the program, but have a much happier workforce knowing they are wearing a comfortable pair of durable work boots every day. Red Wing Boots are best-in-class and match our professional fence installation team.

AFA University Classes
In September 2015, Rio Grande Fence Co. of Nashville debuted a series on Thursday mornings branded as AFA University. All company employees participate in the weekly educational series held from September-May. Since everyone in the company can’t attend the full week version of AFA University, we decided to provide a continual learning environment in our business to ensure all employees stay current on the latest fence products and installation tips, together. For an example of what we may cover in a typical month, we may choose to concentrate on commercial grade ornamental fence. Product brochures, installation videos from Ameristar Perimeter Security and hands-on experience with the ornamental steel fence at our office are great tools to help teach the various elements of our industry. We educate our staff on the various styles, sizes and proper installation of ornamental fencing. Before the classes began in the fall, Derek Smith (COO) contacted Tony Thornton at the American Fence Association to discuss the concept in the summer of 2015. While no other companies in the AFA have a weekly series exactly like this, Tony was fantastic to offer support for our new initiative and offered to send us the core learning system from Field Installation School to assist in the education of our employees. We greatly appreciate the support received from the AFA for our new investment in employee education.

AFA University Resource Library
In January 2016, Rio Grande Fence Co. of Nashville unveiled a new hanging wall space in our employee break room branded as an AFA University Resource Library. A short list of items included in the area: AFA University manuals, ASTM books, Fencepost Magazine copies, World Fence News copies, Ameristar catalogs, Locinox catalogs, etc. Our staff is encouraged to stop by and read the materials on breaks, or to check-out and take home for further fence industry education.

AFA Fence Installation School

Training Scholarships for AFA Fence Installation School
We created an internal scholarship competition for two fence installers to win the opportunity to participate in AFA’s Fence Installation School. We receive some great applications during the process and enjoy reading about our coworkers’ desire to attend this prestigious training event. Those who attend come back with more confidence in their respective jobs with the education they’ve received. One item that impresses us the most is how the attendees came back with the mindset of being a professional in everything you do, which fits in perfectly with the phrase on every company work shirt; The Commercial Fence Professionals™.

Employees Attend FENCETECH Convention
As a show of our company’s commitment to the AFA and going to the next level on educating our staff, we closed our doors for business on January 15, 2016 so ALL employees could participate in FENCETECH, the national fence industry convention and trade show. Our team found it great to be able to source even more reliable accessories and installer-friendly products. The opportunity for all of our employees to gain a greater sense of the fence industry was a memory our team will not forget.

Third-Generation Owner Speaks About Employee Engagement at AFA’s FENCETECH in 2018
Chief Operating Officer, Derek Smith, will be one of the featured speakers at the fence industry’s annual trade show and convention in Phoenix, AZ in February 2018. His presentation will be focused on how fence companies can deliver their own education series utilizing different resources each week. Developing a constant stream of education presented to foster continual improvement and conversation will increase employee engagement.


ABC STEP Program
Founded in 1989 as a safety benchmarking and improvement tool, Associated Builders and Contractors STEP program has evolved into a world-class safety management system that dramatically improves safety performance among participants regardless of company size or type of work. Rio Grande Fence Co. won at the Gold Level in 2018, authenticating us as being over 190% safer than the Bureau of Labor Statistics industry average.

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