By Mr. William Scott Farrow (USACE)March 1, 2016
During U.S. Army Cadet Command's annual Cadet Summer Training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, 8,000 to 12,000 Army Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets and supporting staff from colleges across the nation call the installation home.
After a long day of training, cadets can rest well thanks to U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville Furnishings Program contracts providing quality, functional furniture for their barracks.
Two contracts, valued at more than $5.8 million, filled more than 400 rooms in 14 buildings with the beds and mattresses, chests, wardrobes, lounge furnishings for dayrooms, and washers and dryers for laundry rooms. Cadets cycling through the CST are billeted for four weeks at a time in the barracks with four, six or eight cadets living in a single room. Smaller, two-person rooms are available to billet cadre.
The furniture Cadet Command requested is spartan to say the least.
The contract requested the furnishings have "simple lines and detailing free of ornamentation." The result is metal frame beds, most configured as bunk beds, accompanied by plain metal wardrobes. All furnishings require easy maintenance and durable material to endure heavy daily usage over an extended life with a minimum of maintenance and repair.
"CST is effectively basic training for cadets, and the furniture suites the mission: basic," said Stephanie Hardin, Huntsville Center barracks furnishings project manager.
Hardin said most of the barracks furniture projects she's managed are for the permanent party junior grade Soldiers assigned to an installation. Wooden or metal beds, night stands, chests of drawers, chair and writing table are common furnishings for the Soldiers' private rooms.
"We are mindful that the furniture is intended to provide Soldiers with a living space that feels more like a home, and although these two contracts called for basic requirements--we ensured a comfortable living environment for the cadets. We have to make sure what we purchased is very sturdy and durable to withstand substantial use," she said.
As barracks furnishings project manager, Hardin said her main role is annual budgeting and work plan formulation, preparing and executing the acquisition plan and developing minimum quality specifications for furniture requirements.
Kevin Stickle, chief of Fort Knox Furniture Management Office, said the furniture received at Cadet Command certainly met the requirements, and the customer service provided by Huntsville Center Furnishings Program is the selling point for procuring furniture through Huntsville Center.
"They (Furnishings Program personnel) always do a good job procuring the furniture, but it's the delivery and installation oversight they provide that deserves recognition," Stickle said. "Stephanie (Hardin) called prior to delivery, during and after delivery, and during the installation process checking to make sure everything was going well. She also followed up with on-site quality assurance inspections. I really appreciate her engagement during the entire process."
Hardin said she doesn't feel like she's doing anything above and beyond her duty as barracks project manager.
"My job is ensuring that the furnishings program provides quality furnishings to enhance the quality of life for all military members and their families by implementing best business practices and initiatives to reduce costs. Knowing that our customers are appreciative of the program's efforts, makes the typical project obstacles seem very minor," she said.
Cadet Command is the largest single source of new officers for the Army, commissioning the majority of Army officers each year through the senior ROTC program. All cadets attend Cadet Summer Training between their junior and senior years in college. They must graduate from training as one of the requirements to be commissioned as Army officers after graduating college.
Huntsville Center's Furnishings Program is a full service organization capable of providing project management, interior design, procurement, installation and quality assurance for all federal agencies' furniture needs. The program procures barracks and administrative furnishings for federal agencies worldwide.