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As seen in our digital edition

Meet the Rising Stars
of Guam

By Jason Soeda
builders working on GuamIn this report, we introduce you to a few of the friendly builders working on Guam. They're young, up-and- coming and positively upbeat about their future on the island. After that, we focus on one of the most interesting projects of 2012, a joint venture between some of the best builders on the island.

Family Man

Daniel Holms is a young man whose work with Watts Constructors has taken him all over the United States. He's currently assigned to the island of Guam where he works as a quality control manager/environmental
manager for the company. A graduate of Michigan Technological University with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, Holms says the move to Guam felt very natural to him and his wife.

"My wife Erin, our three-month-old son Oliver and I moved to Guam after completing the Kahului Airport Terminal Expansion project on Maui," says Holms. "We stayed at the Hilton the first few weeks and rather than renting, decided to purchase a house here. We realized right away how nice the locals were and were made to feel right at home." Holms says that Erin was very supportive of his career and their travels across the world. Erin herself works in construction as an IT manager and project coordinator.

As a person who has worked in many types of environments, including jobsites in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and California, Holms feels that Guam's construction industry is particularly unique.

"Unlike the Midwest, the weather on Guam allows you to work outdoors all year round," says Holms. "When working in Chicago, scheduling played a much bigger role in projects because buildings needed to be enclosed before the snow started. On Guam, assuming the rain is not an issue, projects can progress steadily with fewer milestones."

Holms says the biggest difference between the industries of the mainland and Guam relates to the topic of material logistics: "Lead time and transportation costs contribute to a need for better preparation when scheduling and performing buyout. There is also an apprehension of utilizing unfamiliar tools and techniques."

The environmental manager mentions another thing that sets Guam's industry apart from the rest, and it's an issue he cares deeply about: "Construction on Guam is unique in its potential impact to the environment. Corals can be easily damaged because of silt and sediment, and issues such as invasive species present their own set of challenges. It is great to work with a client, such as the Navy, that is dedicated to environmental compliance. The need for environmental managers on Guam is becoming more apparent and is a niche that I enjoy working in."

Holms explains why Guam has a special place in his heart: "My wife Erin and I have two sons, Oliver (4) and Preston (3). Oliver was born in Kahului, Maui. Preston was born here on Guam. Our children are growing up on this island and because of this, Guam will forever be special to us."

The Watts employee comes from a family of builders. His mother is a journeyman electrician in Chicago, Ill.

"While I was attending college, she was working through her apprenticeship program so we found ourselves studying similar materials, including circuits and power distribution," he says.

Holms' grandfather was a superintendent for a heavy civil construction company in Chicago.

"He was involved in some of the first post-tensioned bridge projects in the United States, and is one of the biggest influences on my love for construction. He was a child of the Great Depression and I would like to think that his work ethic wore off on me."

Born To Build

Thirty-one year old Ryan Capati was born to build. He's been in construction since he was 18 years old. As a site safety and health officer for Allied Pacific Builders, he is currently assigned to Andersen Air Force Base, and is involved in various roof repair projects. A third generation construction worker of Filipino heritage, Capati has lived in Guam his entire life. As a teenager, he often helped his uncles and grandfathers with various projects around the house, including painting and general carpentry. It was clear to everyone that Capati had a natural inclination toward physical activity and building things.

"I come from a family of construction workers, so it seemed automatic for me to become one," says Capati, who has many uncles in construction. Some of them even manage their own companies, he says.

The Allied Pacific Builder employee says that Guam is a special place to work, and he wouldn't live anywhere else. First of all, he says, this is where his family lives. And second, although he was born in the Philippines, he's lived here since he was only a year old, so he's proud to call himself a "local boy."

However, Capati did spend some time on the U.S. mainland. He worked in California for a while, but he says the industry felt different there. They just did not have the same work ethic and spirit of hospitality as the people of Guam do, he says.

"Ryan has invested a substantial amount into furthering his training and certifications," say his supervisors at Allied Pacific Builders.

The company says Capati is adept in a variety of trades including: carpenter, roll-up door installer, cement mason, fence erector, painter, plumber and roofer.

One of Capati's greatest role models is his grandfather, whose construction career on the island spanned 42 years and included stints at construction firms including Carlos Construction, Five Brothers Construction and Jones & Guerrero.

"He retired at the age of 74 and still feels as if he can still work," says Capati.

Promising Start

Paulette Nededog is a promising new kid on the block. Although she has only been employed at dck pacific guam, LLC since August 2011, her supervisors already consider her a rising star. Nededog is a carpenter who currently is working on a dck project titled, "Torpedo Exercise Support Building & Consolidated Submarine Learning Center (SLC) Training & Commander Submarine Squadron (CSS) 15 Headquarters Facility." To put it in laymen's terms, this project includes the design and construction of a new, two-story consolidated training, submarine learning center, and headquarters facility for Commander Submarine Squadron (CSS) 15. That is quite a project to cut one's teeth on, especially a person who has never worked in construction before. However, Nededog's supervisors say that her enthusiasm makes all the difference in the world.

"When I was visiting SLC a few times, I often catch up with Paulette to get some feedback from her," says Douangchan Lasrithammavan, human resources administrator for the company. "She is always positive about being a dck employee and particularly (working on the) SLC."

Although Nededog has been with dck only a short time, dck supervisors say that she has a strong work ethic and motivational attitude on the jobsite. Her performance led them to give her more responsibilities and promotion to Carpenter 1 after only four months, says Lasrithammavan.

Nededog says the reason she enjoys her job at dck pacific guam is because her coworkers treat her like family.

"We're one big family, regardless of what every person's race is," says Nededog. "We treat each other like family. So we always work as one to get the job done."

Of course, carpentry is hard work, but Nededog says that she enjoys learning new skills and feels her elbow grease definitely will pay off someday.

"This is a good opportunity for me," says Nededog. "I want to keep working my way up."

Flagship Project

Now it's time to highlight one of the most interesting and multifaceted projects on Guam. It is the Navy's $86 million Uniform-Tango Wharf Improvement project in Apra Harbor, a task order award under the $4 billion Guam MACC contract. Why is the project so remarkable? First of all, it is a joint venture with Hawaiian and Japanese firms, directly related to the military buildup contract. These essential wharf and utilities improvements will provide enhanced berthing capacities to facilitate efficient loading/unloading of transient ships that directly support the Marine Corps forces relocating from Okinawa, Japan to Guam. Furthermore, the contractors are using cutting edge equipment that has never been used in this region. In addition, the builders involved in this job say they are committed to environmental compliance and the highest level of environmental stewardship.

Daniel Holms of Watts Constructors describes the project: "The Apra Wharf project is a collaboration between ourselves and our joint venture partners Healy Tibbitts and Obayashi, under the name Guam MACC Builders. Obayashi provided us a team of steel and concrete experts that has brought new innovation to the project with a sheet pile/soldier pile combination system. Obayashi has been in the business for almost 120 years and is one of the world's leading construction contractors and Japan's leading listed companies. Healy Tibbitts Builders, our marine experts, bring the waterfront experience and equipment necessary to reconstruct the wharf. Healy Tibbitts is a subsidiary of Weeks Marine, which itself has been in operation for over 90 years and is one of the leading marine construction, dredging and tunneling organizations in the United States and Canada. Watts Constructors has familiarity with construction in Hawaii and Guam and has provided the utility and infrastructure expertise for the project. Watts is a subsidiary of The Weitz Company. Weitz is a family run business since 1855 and is a $1 billion industry leader based out of Des Moines, Iowa."

According to Holms, the builders are using state-of-the-art equipment never before used on Guam. He says: "This project is the first implementation on Guam of a construction method called vibroflotation to construct stone columns. The equipment was imported from Betterground, a German-based firm, and has been used to install and compact 2-inch aggregate into the ground while densifying the adjacent soils. The stone is placed in 55 feet columns 7 feet on center throughout the site which was previously damaged by an earthquake in which soils liquefied causing the existing bulkhead wall to fail."

Holms explains why the project is so special: "This project was the second project awarded as part of the military buildup associated with the Marine relocation from Okinawa, Japan to Guam. This project, however, was the first to break ground and is considered the flagship project for the buildup. For Watts specifically, it has been meaningful because it has allowed us to retain valuable tradesmen from our other projects. It also allowed us to expand our resume on Guam because of the marine nature of the project." top of page
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