By Rod Jetton
We arrived in Honolulu on Tuesday at about 2:00pm. By the time found our bags, picked up the rental car and checked into the hotel it was late afternoon. I wanted to see the mighty MO so we headed down to Pearl Harbor just in time to get on the last tour of the day. It was very interesting to stand right where General MacArthur and the Japanese ended WW II.
It was special to me for two reasons. My best friend in the Marine Corps had served on the U.S.S. Missouri in the 1st Iraq war. He had gone to the big retirement celebration for all former crew members when they moved the Missouri out to Hawaii and he had sent me a cap. Train McCloud was a fine Marine and unfortunately he was killed in the 2nd Iraq war. Being on that ship brought back some great memories of Trane.
|You can see the Arizona behind me|
From the front of the Missouri you can see the U.S.S. Arizona memorial. It was sad to think about all the lives lost in the Pearl Harbor attack. Looking around now you would never know there had been a war except for the Arizona memorial. Taking time to tour those ships and reflect on how America has changed since December 7th 1941 was very sobering.
After our tour we had dinner and then hit the rack. Hawaii is 5 hours behind Missouri so even though it was only 9:00pm it had been a very long day for us. We knew we needed to get some sleep and be ready to go in the morning.
|NAN Inc. meeting with Ms. Kim and Mr. Lucas|
Some of our most productive and informative meetings were with Ken Loui from Parsons and Sharon Thom for Kiewit. Parsons is the overall program director for the base buildup and Kiewit is a part of the $4 billion mega MACC that has already been awarded. We also met with Mr. Lucas and Sandra Kim form NAN Inc. Their company is also part of the mega MACC. The small business adviser for the Navy in the Pacific Fleet is Flora Pang. She was very supportive of helping us understand the contracting process in Hawaii, as well as the whole Pacific Rim. Then we met Brian Zachmeier of AMEC for lunch on Thursday. AMEC is one of the largest engineering firms in the world and Brian retired from the Air force and has lived in Hawaii for the last seven years. We hoped these folks could give us an idea if a small company providing civil engineering and materials testing services like ours would be needed on Guam.
I am happy to report their advice and information was extremely helpful to us. There was some good news and bad news in what we learned, but overall, the information we gained and the relationships we started will be very helpful to our future endeavors. They all felt the buildup on Guam would require more engineers and technicians than Guam currently has available. They each emphasized that in their planning they were looking for dependable companies like ours. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that the funding and original time line for the Guam base buildup has not been approved. The budget debates in Washington have put the funding on hold and the earthquake in Japan has given them other priorities to deal with.
This has caused several companies to change their plans. Many companies had already set up offices and moved staff to Guam. It sounds like everyone is closing offices and bringing staff home while they wait for the Department of Defense to finalize a new master plan and appropriate the funding.
This only confirms what I was hearing and reading about Guam before the trip. For SSE the stalled timing is actually a good thing. Our operations in New Orleans are still going strong and we have another year before they start slowing down. Twelve to eighteen months from now would be a perfect time for us to start gearing up for a Guam operation.
Overall the trip has been a huge success so far. We are taking quite a bit of ribbing from our co-workers back home about this business trip to Hawaii and Stan and I feel a bit out of place with all the couples and honeymooners around, but the meetings we had were very helpful. Clearly, like New Orleans the need for a dependable company is there. The big question for everyone is, when will the DOD decide to move the Marines to Guam.
|My Board and me|
|Stan the Man!!|
|Catching a wave!|
|Stan and his board|
On a side note we did work in some relaxation right before our plan left on Friday. Stan and I signed up for Surfing lesson and they guaranteed success or “your money back.” I am happy to report we are both now officially ‘surfers’. It turns out surfing is a serious workout, we didn’t relax then, but it helped us sleep on the plane. We had to rush but we surfed, rinsed off and were at the airport just in time. It turns out the plane was delayed 1.5 hours which means we would not have had to rush. I don’t know how good we smell but were sitting next to each other so I guess it doesn’t matter.