MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. --
Maintenance Center Albany has seen an explosion of new business and employees over the past several years thanks to the Marine Corps’ focus on supporting the war fighter in Iraq and now, Afghanistan. This record growth in revenue and workload is the result of superior leadership and a dedicated workforce.
Col. Terence W. Reid, commander, took command of MCA on July 17, after serving as the assistant chief of staff, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, New Orleans, La. He spent the latter part of his career as an aviation logistician.
Reid, a native of Rock Hill, S.C., has been in the Marine Corps for 25 years. He graduated from Rock Hill High School in 1980 and the University of South Carolina in 1984. After assessing the specifics of everything currently in place at MCA, he sat down for an interview to discuss his vision, plans and goals for his new command.
Q: What is your assessment of MCA since you’ve been here?
A: When I first arrived, MCA already had a reputation for excellence. The hardest part for me initially was to be able to maintain that state of excellence. I spent my first 30 days learning the ‘dance’ around here.
Fiscal year 2009 was another record year for MCA. We had $375.5 million in revenue and $3.2 million in direct labor hours. We were able to sustain that record pace throughout the fourth quarter. The direct labor hours and the revenue are both all-time highs for MCA.
Reid said the job of MCA is to repair, rebuild and modify Marine Corps ground combat equipment and to support the war fighter in any and every way we can. He added that all of their efforts, including forward deployed teams, are supported by the dedicated civilian-Marine and Marine workforce.
Q: What role does MCA play in operations in Afghanistan and Iraq?
A: During the build up in Iraq, MCA and our sister depot Marine Corps Logistics Base Bartstow, Calif., played an integral part. Now as we wind down in Iraq, and the build up in Afghanistan increases, we are responsible for making sure that the equipment we receive gets repaired and made available as quickly as possible, without any sacrifice in quality.
Q: What are your priorities and goals for 2010?
A: Our goal is to continue to build on the standard of excellence that exists here at MCA, and to be known throughout the Department of Defense as the “depot of choice.” We are already doing well, but there is always room for improvement.
Reid said he spent his last year, prior to coming here, at a Depot and Arsenal Executive Leadership Program in Chapel Hill, N.C. As part of that program, incoming Marine Corps depot commanders and new depot and arsenal commanders for the Army spent that year together in classes. They also spent two weeks each in a residency program learning from top industry leaders such as AM General in South Bend, Indiana and Horizon Line Logistics with domestic shipments to places like Guam, Puerto Rico, Alaska and Hawaii.
“We went to different industries, corporations and depots to see what were the leading technologies in depot maintenance. I had a chance to learn from those industries and see what right is supposed to look like, so part of our improvement will be to keep pace with the industry and not only do well, but be known for doing well. The goal is to position MCA as the depot of choice, so that when those program managers have excess work to be done, they will look first to MCA for completion of that work,” he said.
Reid added that customer service is critical and the workforce does a great job in meeting the needs of their customers.
“Not only is the customer always right, but we want to go the last mile by not only ensuring that customers receive their equipment, but that this equipment is received in the right condition at the right time,” he said. “Going above and beyond for your customers is the epitome of professionalism.”
Q: What is your approach to building a winning team?
A: My approach to building a team is a “we”, not “I” approach as we seek each other’s counsel on decision-making and goal-setting. There are a lot of experts here at MCA and my goal is to get all of them rowing in the same direction, at the same time. Along this line, I asked the managers to determine those metrics that are critical to the success of MCA. In short order, the managers came up with four key metrics we are currently reviewing.
Q: What are those metrics?
A: The first metric focuses on safety and working in a safe environment. I believe every employee here at MCA is a safety manager and that is why the Voluntary Protection Program is so important. Everyone is getting trained on the VPP because of its importance to what we do here and every manager will enforce that. Every manager will go through the VPP manager training, and become an advocate for safety as a measurable goal. We need to look at what works and what doesn’t and as a team, look at how we can do better.
The second metric is the Net Operating Result, which is the total revenue, minus expenses. We need to continually monitor NOR to make sure that we are good stewards of the business side of depot maintenance operations.
The third is schedule compliance. Our customers expect quality products at the right time. If we are expected to turn out so many Humvee’s a month, then we need to work as a team to maintain that schedule. As a management team, we will continuously review those lines that are behind schedule and work together to solve issues.
Quality is the fourth metric. We want
“simply the best” for our service men and women. We will review all quality reports, and seek out additional feedback from our customers via surveys and site visits. There will be no shortcuts regarding quality.
“Those are the top four metrics that our management team deems critical to our success, and as we tweak them, there will be more details added under each. For example under quality, you will have Field Product Quality Deficiency Reports and rejects,” Reid said.
Reid added that his biggest challenge here is simply getting to know the 1,900 plus men and women that make up the MCA workforce and continuing to champion the myriad of excellent ideas they have. He said his goal is to ensure they have all the necessary tools they need to best support the war fighters.
Q: What are your goals for training and workforce development?
A: Workforce development is all about continuous improvement and my job is to be a servant by making sure they have all the tools they need to succeed. Education is a big part of that development. As an example, based on feedback from a wildcard that was sent out, we have made resume training available for employees.
When I got here, it came to my attention that employees needed help with writing their resumes to compete for the different jobs that become available. Since that time, we added a resume writing class to our workforce training, and as of today, more than 400 employees will be attending the class at the human resources office.
Q: What about training programs for managers and supervisors?
A: One of our long range goals is to develop an executive-level management training program that will give our managers all the tools that they need to be successful and progress in their careers.
The Human Resources Office will train the managers and supervisors the first week of December.
“Educating the workforce and bringing everyone together on the same sheet of music is key. Giving your employees the right tools and education that they need to accomplish their mission is part of taking care of your people. Taking care of people and building for the future is important to me,” he said.
Q: What are the constantly seeking self improvement and lean six sigma initiatives you refer to in your monthly newsletter?
A: That is a big initiative with our workforce because we do a lot of theory of constraints here and have done well and are award recognized by the industry. Industry is now moving towards lean six sigma and continuous process improvement, which includes value stream mapping and eliminating waste.
“We have a new employee, Bill Cuff, who is a black belt in lean six sigma and a retired Marine master sergeant who previously worked in ground supply. He understands what we do here and is a black belt champion who has laid out a strategy for us to implement here. We will crawl first, then walk and run with an end goal of building for the future, past my 24 months here, so the whole organization can move forward together,” he said.
Q: What is your voice of the customer feedback concept about?
A: That is key to our whole operation here. We want to know how the products are performing out in the fleet and what are the service men and women saying about them? We do get some feedback, but we want more. We will conduct site visits as much as possible to learn what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong.
Q: Do you anticipate any technology changes or upgrades to improve your output and services?
A: It will not be easy to change the facilities here. Our main craneway was built in 1954 and a lot has changed. When you go out into the industry and see corporations with state of the art equipment and facilities, it’s hard to compete. However, we will work toward modernization as much as we can.
Reid said MCA plans to host a technology fair in June 2010 where they will invite vendors in to show what new technology is out there that can help the workforce do their jobs quicker an smarter. MCA employees will have a say in what works for them, and supervisors will also have the opportunity to visit other depots to see what they have in place that is working for them.
“The bottom line is we are looking for ways to make our jobs easier and still have safer, quality products,” he said.
Q: What are your impressions of Albany so far?
A: From the beginning, my family and I have been welcomed with open arms. Our daughter, Mika, started high school at Westover High and plays soccer with the YMCA travel team. For example, the principal and his staff went out of their way to make sure we got Mika registered in a timely fashion and off to a good start. Dr. Anthony Parker of Albany Technical College and I found out we are distant relatives so he and his wife, Sandra, opened up their home and extended an extra warm welcome to us. My wife and I have also been invited to join a local photo club after Dr. Gillespie found out I was a ‘closet’ photographer.
Reid said the welcome has been similar inside MCA and he is fortunate to have such a dedicated workforce and supportive community.
“Throughout my career I have tried to focus on three pillars of command: mission readiness, family readiness and community relationships. Here at MCA, the mission is well in hand, and the shops are already closely knit. We currently have several community partnerships that will continue and will also look for additional opportunities. The Marines will conduct, as a unit, at least one community relations event quarterly as we work to support our local community. That is my command philosophy,” he said.
Q: What is your vision for the future of MCA and its workforce?
A: Our vision is to be the “go to” depot for the Department of Defense and continue providing the war fighters with “simply the best” equipment available. We will continue to build on that tradition of excellence.
“Our theme is continuous process improvement as we look for ways we can all do a better job to support the warfighter. We produce a monthly newsletter in order to keep our employees informed of what is going on at MCA, which and highlights important events. Keeping up the internal and external appearance of MCA is also important to our image. If we want to be the best, we must look the part and we all have a hand in keeping the areas cleaned, including me,” he said.
Reid, who is also quick to give the credit for MCA’s success to his staff and the workforce, said his goal is to break down the barriers between himself, management and other employees. He said it will be done by getting together regularly in social settings, team building activities and volunteering in the community as a group to get to know each other better.
Trent Blalock, deputy commander, MCA, said, “His vision is for MCA to be “simply the best” as the depot of choice. Although this may seem very obvious, it is clear, concise guidance that we should remind ourselves of daily. If we don’t achieve this, someone else will. His gift is seeing the big picture and he has genuine people skills. It is enjoyable to work with someone who has these skills and the personal values he possesses.”
Q: What are your plans after this command tour?
A: “Even though my command assignment is only 24 months, my wife Jackie and I have a daughter, Mika, who just started high school here in Albany, and we plan to stay longer. The goal is to remain in Albany after my command tour to allow Mika to finish high school. I will look first for an assignment with LOGCOM.,” Reid said.