A day in the life of a Best Place to Work
My Experience at the Best Places to Work
Photos by David Croxford
(page 3 of 5)
While onsite at the Arizona Memorial, the editor pressure
Watts Constructors: Everyone Knows Your Name
It’s 6:30 a.m. at Pearl Harbor’s USS Arizona Memorial’s visitor center and the sun is not out yet. Watts Constructors is one week away from opening the first phase of the renovated center – one of the few projects it gets to show off to the public. Watts specializes in military and other federal construction, including design-build, utility, fuel systems, marine waterfront and historic renovation, and has projects all over the U.S. West Coast, Guam and Hawaii.
The changes to the National Parks Service facility are a vast improvement. There’s an inviting, open-air entry, a waterfront promenade, a new NPS office building and a walkway connecting the visitor center, USS Bowfin and USS Missouri.
At 6:45 a.m., Watts employees and all subcontractors go through their morning routine – a few minutes of stretching and a safety briefing. Tony McCullough, project superintendent, updates everyone on the day’s schedule and agenda. There’s less than a week before the project is turned over to NPS, but there’s no panic in his voice. Instead, he booms as you’d expect from a construction manager – gruff with a take-no-backtalk attitude. He knows visitors will be checking the site, but he doesn’t care who they are – everyone needs to wear their PPE (personal protective equipment). “Work safe, work smart,” he closes.
I get the guided site tour and, since I’m not really qualified to do anything (nor am I a union member), I get to pressure wash. Nor do I get any training. “It’s a pressure washer! You point the hose and press it!” McCullough says. It’s comforting to know that construction managers at a Best Place to Work still act like construction managers.
After my fun with the hose (which was redone immediately by someone who knew what he was doing), I talked to a few guys onsite. It turns out everyone has worked with each other and CEO Denny Watts for a long time. McCullough has worked with Watts for more than 10 years, starting back when Watts was president of Fletcher Pacific/Dick Pacific Construction Co. Inc.
Vince Fragomene, construction manager, grew up on Oahu and worked in San Diego before getting a job at Watts and coming home. He’s worked with Kelvin Osborne, vice president of Hawaii operations, at Navy projects around Pearl Harbor. Ryan Terayama, project manager, has worked with everyone a long time, too. He tells me that even the tradesmen have worked here a long time. Watts himself will sometimes come to the job site and say hello to everyone, including the carpenters and operating engineers.
The project at the USS Arizona Memorial is designated LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver. About 20 employees are LEED certified.
Because most of its projects are with the federal government, Watts Constructors has fared much better than other construction companies during this recession. In fact, according to its newsletter, it’s the best year Watts has ever had.
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