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Archie Cochrane check

Archie Cochrane Ford receives a nearly $42,000 dividend check from the Montana State Fund for accident prevention on Monday. Montana State Fund's Laurence Hubbard, left, hands a replica of the check to Jeanne Wisler, safety manager, Garry Brayko, owner, Nate Allie, of Payne West Insurance and controller Mel Young. 

At Archie Cochrane Ford, a safe culture for its 115 employees led to a big payday Monday.

At the Billings auto dealership, officials from the Montana State Fund distributed about $43,000 in dividends from Archie Cochrane workers’ compensation premiums.

Archie Cochrane was among the largest recipients in Yellowstone County, which received $4.6 million total for this year. The average dividend from the fund was $1,838 in Yellowstone County.

“I attribute it to our management team and staff. We’re big on safety and training. It’s important to us that people have a safe place to work,” Garry Brayko, owner of Archie Cochrane, said Monday.

He added that he plans to invest the money back into the business and improve training.

The Montana State Fund is distributing about $35 million in dividends to employers statewide before Dec. 9, matching last year’s record distribution. The agency has returned a dividend every year since 1999, a total of $176 million back into Montana communities.

The dividends are based on the amount of workers’ compensation claims filed by employers, which means that safer workplaces are likely eligible for more money back. Other factors include the financial markets where Montana State Fund invests its money, according to agency officials.

Montana is traditionally one of the most dangerous places to work, with high accident rates and workers’ compensation claims, said Laurence Hubbard, CEO of the Montana State Fund.

“We think it’s really important to put a spotlight on worker safety and change the culture,” Hubbard said.

Hubbard is traveling to seven Montana cities this week to present checks and highlight workplace safety.

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