By Jim Hinnant, 401st Army Field Support BrigadeJuly 13, 2008
CAMP AS SAYLIYAH, Qatar (June 29, 2008) Ac"a,! At the April 17, 2008 opening of the 1st Battalion, 401st Army Field Support Brigade's new Auto Body Repair Facility here, those attending the ceremony saw a pristine building yet to echo with the sounds of grinders and sanders, or glow with the flames of acetylene torches.
These days the 6,000 sq. ft. shop is packed with hulking, work weary road scrapers recently brought here for refurbishment after extensive service in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and since opening, a variety of vehicles and construction equipment have passed through its oversized rollup doors.
"We love it," said Kelvin Jefferson, senior auto body mechanic with ITT Corp., the contract firm that repairs equipment brought here. "There's plenty of room, we've adjusted the lighting; it's just good working conditions."
The building was designed primarily for Humvee work, but can handle just about any thing on wheels, Jefferson said.
"We have repaired about 50 Humvees, several road pavers, road scrapers and equipment trailers have had body work performed in the shop and more (repair work) is on the way," said Jefferson.
Before the building opened, his 17-person team had to work on vehicles wherever they could find space, he said.
"Our guys were working in other shops, basically on top of each other, and the larger vehicles were being worked on outside," Jefferson continued.
As daytime temperatures here regularly approach 120 degrees, the climate-controlled environment of the ABRF has made a difference in not only productivity and safety, but in worker attitude.
Battalion commander, Lt. Col. Maxine Girard says the investment in having the facility built is paying off.
"The workers are more productive, and are in a safer working environment," said Girard. "The building is doing exactly what we expected."
The ABRF is now filled with the sounds of body work and the glow of sparks and flames from the work being performed.
"Since it (the ABRF) opened, things are much better, we really like it," said ITT worker Senaka Sriweera, a native of Sri Lanka. "It is much cooler, it's big inside and we have the built in air lines for our equipment."