Busy DPW shops care for ANAD buildings
Mike Hollingsworth, left, and Shannon Cooper frame an opening in one of Anniston Army Depot's buildings to replace a door. The duo are part of the carpentry shop in the Directorate of Public Works' Wood, Paint and Metal Division, which helps to care for every building on the installation.

ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- The employees of the Directorate of Public Works' Wood, Paint and Metal Division are rarely found in their shops.

That's because they are more likely to be in yours.

"Most of the staff is usually out of the shop working on jobs 80 percent of the time, said Willard Norton, the wood, paint and metal chief.

The division's 12 craftsmen -- four carpenters, six sheet metal mechanics, a painter and a sign maker -- go where the work is, which, more often than not, is outside their own shop.

"We take care of all the building structures at Anniston Army Depot," said Norton. "We do a lot of work and there are just are few of us."

With a workload that varies weekly and, often, daily from replacing locks and ceiling tiles to renovating office spaces and repairing roll-up doors, these employees have to employ a wide range of skill sets.

"The sheet metal shop is often called upon to fabricate parts for vehicles," said Norton. "It makes sense because we can do it faster and cheaper than a contractor."

"The carpenters may be called upon to renovate an entire office," said Mark Mangum, lead man for the paint and carpentry shops. "We will go in and replace all the sheet rock, the ceiling tiles and the floors."

Or, the division may be asked to create a cabinet, make a road sign, paint a stripe on a road or create a banner for a ceremony.

"Our employees are often the behind-the-scenes people for events on the installation," said Norton.

Customer service is a high priority for the division's employees, who strive to balance a heavy workload with their small workforce.

To save time and, therefore, cost for the depot, the trucks used by each two-man team are packed with spare parts and a variety of tools, many of which are battery operated because there is never a guarantee the job site will have easily available power.

"We have some of the best tools for the trades we are in," said Norton.

In addition to the gear employees carry to job sites, the three shops have a variety of equipment used to cut large pieces of wood, create joints, print banners and intricately cut metal.

Norton said the tools and equipment are just a part of what enables his workers to perform top-notch work. The other factors are their experience and willingness to learn from each other.

Even Norton, with his 35 years of experience as a craftsman, said he learns new techniques from the younger employees.

"You have to listen to the employees," he said. "They are the ones doing the work."

Page last updated Thu February 16th, 2012 at 00:00