“My name is David Silva. I bend steel for a living and that's my job”
David Silva is a strong man—strong on experience, strong on family, strong on safety. When he says he can bend steel, it’s not a boast. It’s his job description.
David is a press brake operator for Steelhead, Inc, a hometown manufacturing company that grew up to be one of the world’s leading producers of water-bottling equipment. The 45-year-old business sells what it makes in 70 countries around the world, but it all starts in San Antonio.
“It’s hard work, but I really enjoy what I do,” David says. “Steelhead has a very positive environment, a positive culture they’ve laid down here. They remind you about the importance of taking your time so you don’t hurt yourself, and they give you all the gear necessary to make sure you go home 100% healthy.”
For Steelhead, protecting their employees is a top priority. As their workers’ comp provider, Texas Mutual provides significant help with a wide range of safety training resources, industry data and accident prevention strategies.
The emphasis on safety helps them retain their workforce—and keeping hard-working people on the job is good for their business.
“The fun part is seeing the finished product,” David says. “There’s a personal satisfaction in knowing this couldn’t have happened any other way than through hard work. And when the product’s complete and it’s created and sold, then you can write your name on that piece of equipment and say ‘Hey I built that.’”
Building things is in David’s blood. He grew up in manufacturing, the son of a man who started a business bending metal for air conditioning components in the 1960s. It’s where he learned the trade, along with the value of work.
“The goal is to be 100% healthy when you come to work, and then to go home to your wife and your kids and your dog and your cats the same way. Healthy.”
For the past three and a half years, he’s been with Steelhead.
“I know something about their history, where they came from and how they got started. Ironically, my dad was starting his business about the same time, so we were going up the same mountain. Their path was on the north side, ours was on the south side, but either way it’s a long, hard road. So I can appreciate where they are now because I know what it took to get there.”
It took focus, he explains. For a business to be successful, it needs a constant focus on quality and on doing things the right way. And it needs employees who take the same approach. In David’s case, that means getting up at 3 a.m., hitting the shower, starting breakfast, feeding the pets, and getting on the road so he can be at the plant for his 6 a.m. shift. Then he looks over the blueprints, checks the day’s production goals, puts on his safety equipment and gets to work.
“There’s nothing better than when we go into a production meeting and someone says ‘David’s done braking this job, and he’s done braking that job, and that job’s complete.’ That makes me feel good because I know that I’m doing my job and everything’s flowing in the assembly line. There’s a lot of pride in that, a lot of satisfaction.”
He likes the people he works with, and he knows they depend on each other. That team approach is a hallmark of the manufacturing industry—every member needs to be at their best to maintain a high standard of quality.
“It’s like a motor that’s running good, but then you pull a spark plug wire out and suddenly it’s not running so good anymore,” David says. “That’s what it's like when someone gets hurt on the job.”
Anyone who works in the manufacturing industry knows the risks. There’s heavy lifting, sharp objects, slips and falls, close contact with machinery, forklifts in operation, and more. Steelhead provides proper equipment and training, but David says it’s the responsibility of the employees to work the right way. So he considers the risks involved in a task before he begins, stays aware of what’s around him, puts on his safety equipment before he enters an area, and asks for help when it’s needed.
At Texas Mutual, we spend 365 days a year protecting caring, responsible businesses like Steelhead by finding better ways to protect good, hard-working employees like David Silva. With our safety seminars, training resources, and emphasis on accident prevention, we’re proud to say we help 1.5 million Texas workers make it home to their families every day. We’re honored to share their stories.
At Tigé Boats, Peter Bosma is helping protect his coworkers — and his community. When COVID-19 caused an economic shutdown in Texas, Peter's job changed. Suddenly, he and his team weren’t making boats — they were helping make people safer. The company stepped up to produce personal protective equipment for the community's frontline workers.