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Laurel Timmins – Savage

Savage HR leader adds diversity and improves benefits

From when she was a girl hearing her dad talk about his work arbitrating labor disputes, Laurel Timmins knew she wanted to work in human resources. 

But not because she wanted to resolve issues after they occurred—she wanted to help provide solutions while being part of an HR department that’s integral to a company’s operations and growth.  

For more than five years, Timmins has helped guide growth at Savage, a global provider of supply chain infrastructure and services based in Midvale, Utah. It’s diverse growth, too. For instance, Savage has helped increase the number of women in leadership while the number of women driving its trucks has grown by 20 percent. 

Laurel Timmins | Vice President of Benefits and Talent Acquisition | Savage

Laurel Timmins | Vice President of Benefits and Talent Acquisition | Savage

She has helped automate recruiting and compensation processes by increasing the capabilities of Savage’s enterprise resource management system. Timmins also implemented a partnership with medZERO to offer on-demand funding to Savage’s U.S. team members to cover health care expenses, a move that has saved Savage the cost of administering a loan program in-house. 

The results are improving retention and recruiting as she helps Savage prepare to increase its workforce. 

“There are many reasons why Savage is a fantastic company to work with,” Timmins says. “One of the things that drew me to Savage is the culture. I appreciate that we’re expected to act with honesty and integrity, and to do the right thing. There really is a commitment to the team members’ success.”  

Helping drive DEI 

Savage is a family owned company founded in American Fork, Utah, in 1946. The company started with one truck to haul coal and cinder blocks and is now a global business providing trucking, rail and marine transportation and logistics among other services. Savage’s 2018 acquisition of Bartlett, which mills, stores and ships grains, has made Savage a leading grain exporter to Mexico. 

The company’s facilities, terminals and operations are located throughout the U.S. as well as in Canada, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. The company employs about 4,000 team members, and also offers engineering, procurement and construction services, Timmins says. 

In 2020, she helped Savage establish its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council. Foremost amongst the council’s efforts and achievements has been creating the Elevating Women at Savage initiative which has helped increase the number of women team members.  

And as Timmins adds, the women drivers are also joining Women in Trucking initiatives as Savage now selects a group to attend the WIT annual conference at the company’s expense. 

An equitable approach 

Timmins has revised employment advertising and job descriptions to remove industry jargon skewed to male applicants. The materials explaining company benefits are now translated into Spanish and French. Also, anyone who visits the company’s website as they consider applying for a job now sees photos of Savage’s diverse workforce.  

She led efforts to add a paid time off policy for new parents, whether for childbirth or adoption, and a paid military leave program for reservists and active duty. In 2023 the company introduced an improved mental health benefit for team members and their families. 

Laurel Timmins | Vice President of Benefits and Talent Acquisition | Savage

Those efforts have drawn notice—Savage was recognized as a Top Company for Women in Transportation by Women in Trucking and as a Utah Business Magazine Healthcare Hero in 2022. It was recently named a Military Friendly Employer by VIQTORY, a marketing company that helps veterans find employment, entrepreneurial and educational opportunities.  

“We’re committed to making sure everyone knows they’ll be treated equally in a safe working environment,” she says. 

Help with health care 

In the fall 2022, Timmins helped Savage launch a new offering from medZERO, a Portland, Oregon-based company that provides on-demand, no-interest, no-fee funds to team members to pay for health care expenses that aren’t covered by health insurance. 

The service replaces a prefunded in-house program in which the company provided money to team members for health care costs and was repaid through payroll deductions. 

Timmins says medZERO’s program has expanded eligibility and saves Savage the costs of administering the program in-house. 

“When medZERO made us aware of what they do, they seemed to be the perfect solution,” Timmins says. “The response has been great, so far.”  

By expanding the capabilities of its Ceridian Dayforce enterprise resource planning system, Timmins has also improved operations within human resources.  

The ERP was used to administer payroll and benefits when she joined Savage in December 2017. Now it stores and provides data needed for compensation, helping ensure pay equity and replacing manual Excel spreadsheets. The ERP modules for recruiting new talent and automating performance management are used now, too. 

Guided by principles 

Savage’s ESG efforts helped earn the company certification as an Evergreen company from the Tugboat Institute in July 2022. The certification recognizes the company’s commitment to putting its team members before profit—a principle Timmins has adhered to throughout her career in HR, she says. 

Born and raised near Salt Lake City, she was driven by her father’s stories and experiences about labor relations and mediation to earn a bachelor’s degree in human resource development and a master’s degree in public administration from Brigham Young University. Timmins is also certified as an HRCI Senior Professional in Human Resources and as a Society for Human Resource Management Senior Certified Professional.   

Laurel Timmins | Vice President of Benefits and Talent Acquisition | Savage

Before joining Savage, Timmins was senior vice president of HR at the W.J. Bradley Co. from October 2005 to July 2015, where she implemented the company’s policies supporting a diverse workforce. 

She also led HR for Air Medical Resource Group, taught as adjunct faculty at Ensign College, has served on educational boards, and consulted independently. 

“My career has been dedicated to raising the level of professionalism in HR—moving from the back-office approach to one that benefits team members and leadership by being proactive and providing solutions before situations arise,” Timmins says. 

View this feature in the Vol. III 2023 Edition here.

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