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About two dozen highly skilled people in the Galveston Wharves Construction & Maintenance (C&M) group take care of just about everything that needs fixing on our waterfront. They also are doing construction projects to advance the port’s 20-Year Strategic Master Plan at considerable savings compared to contracting the work.
In 2019, they executed more than 900 work orders for projects large and small. The group is made up of small teams of specialists that take care of everything from structure demolition, paving, mechanical and electrical work, plumbing and HVAC maintenance to painting, carpentry, signage, fencing, mowing, cleaning and parking lot striping.
Their area of responsibility encompasses the port’s 720 acres, our extensive facilities including the cruise terminals, and more than 50 vehicles and heavy equipment.
Not only does our Plumbing department take care of plumbing systems in our two cruise terminals, they maintain water, sanitary and storm sewer lines on port property.
Similarly, our Electrical department takes care of everything electrical, including interior and exterior lighting at our cruise terminals and parking lots. As part of our environmental responsibility initiative, they are transitioning lighting to energy-efficient LED bulbs.
In 2019 we expanded the C&M group to include a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) mechanic to maintain our more than 200 AC units – everything from small window units on guardhouses to a 150-ton unit at Cruise Terminal 2.
We also have a multi-talented craftsman who does everything from building signage and shelves to installing ethernet cable.
The Mechanic shop maintains a large amount of equipment including police trucks, work trucks, emergency generators, and the hydraulics on cruise passenger loading bridges.
Our General Trades group is our largest and broadest work team. This remarkable group handles everything from taking care of trash pickup, cleaning and landscaping to replacing mooring bollards at our docks, building walls and doing interior finish work.
Last but not least is our Construction group of multi-talented people who take care of bigger construction jobs. This year they’ve been doing several larger jobs related to our West Port Cargo Complex, a top priority in our Strategic Master Plan. The Construction group is leveling grades, improving drainage and installing paving to consolidate cargo activities in a 61-acre complex served by truck and rail.
Different C&M teams routinely work together, combining their specialties for larger projects. This will be the case as the teams relocate the cargo-related facilities from the east end of the port to the new cargo complex by the end of 2020. This includes an equipment processing center, where imported farm and construction equipment is fitted out, and an equipment wash pad, where roll-on/roll-off cargoes are cleaned for export.
Heading up this remarkable group is a remarkable leader. C&M Department Manager Oscar Rodriguez has worked at the port for almost 40 years. For much of that time, he also served as an Army reservist.
Oscar has earned the reputation as someone who accepts challenges and provides leadership.
The Rotary Club of Galveston recently honored Oscar as its 2020 Rotary Club Employee of the Year for exemplifying the Rotary 4-Way Test. A panel of independent judges chose Oscar from a number of entries submitted by Galveston businesses.
When I asked Oscar what his biggest challenge is as manager, he said, “Before I retire, I want to train future leaders in C&M to fulfill the port’s 20-Year Strategic Master Plan.”