Blog Post For April 2015 – Quality word according to Paul

It does not matter what degree of experience we possess, from beginner to subject matter expert, from time to time we need to stop and look in a mirror and then ask, “Am I writing my own script for the way I approach things or am I playing a role in a playbook that someone else has written?” In today’s environment, it is all too easy to use a playbook prepared by someone else. There are many companies doing business like everyone else and in the same old way and wondering why things never seem to improve. They keep asking themselves, “Why do we keep having problems with certain activities?” Why are we accepting performance that should be better?

As we gain experience with our profession and with life in general, we do many things out of habit. There is nothing wrong with that unless they are bad habits. Things like not quickly returning phone calls to customers, suppliers, (or even team mates); avoiding tough questions; avoiding tough answers; using the same run-of-the-mill supplier, not thinking outside the box or being overly critical of those who do, and the list could go on. These habits sometimes get ingrained as a part of who we are and where we have been and we do not realize that we have developed a bad habit or two. It is much easier to conduct “business as usual” rather that change the status quo because when we decide that something needs to change, we must change with it. Most of the time, we do not like change but we need to break bad habits.

When working for another company years ago, we were having issues with a supplier. The supplier basically provided a good product, but there were many little things that plagued the customer-supplier relationship. Initially they had trouble meeting delivery schedules and sometimes the work was a little sloppy and documentation was incomplete. Instead of continuously complaining and arguing with the supplier, we paid him a visit to see if we could help solve the problems in with a coaching/teaching approach. We learned that the supplier had not adequately planned for the large volume of components to be produced and was in a “catch-up” mode most of the time. We assisted the supplier in assessing his overall process, made a few recommendations, and agreed to eliminate for 90 days, all penalties for late delivery. That took the pressure off of the supplier and allowed him to focus on the problem instead of the financial penalties related to the schedule. In less than 45 days, all the problems went away. It would have been easy to have continued to write-up the problems, complain, and penalize but that would have been going by someone else’s playbook and conducting business as usual. We broke that habit and replaced it with another one which can be summarized by two words: open communication.

Another time we subcontracted a supplier to perform a particular service. As we begin to use this supplier his rates begin to increase substantially and he was always finding ways to justify additional fees. The supplier had very little competition and was not very cooperative. We tried the same “open communication” with him but he thought he had a corner on the market and would not consider changing anything. Within a few months, we found what seemed to be a very highly qualified company to do the exact same thing and at a lower price. Although we really did not want to take a chance with a new supplier, we decided that it was time for a change. We asked the tough questions and made a tough decision.

The new supplier performed in an exceptional manner, was easy to work with and was very accommodating to our needs. I still have a great working relationship with this supplier. We broke a bad habit of not wanting to take a chance with something new. We replaced that bad habit with one that is not afraid to ask the tough questions to ourselves.
Achieving excellence is not accomplished through a quality program or a procedure. It is a team attitude; it is a working with a mind-set for excellence. Developing habits of excellence is what the phrase “continuous improvement” means to BT Utility Specialists. Doing “business as usual” or doing something just because we have always done it that way is not in our playbook. In everything we do, whether a task is large of small, we strive to improve and develop those habits of excellence.
Until next time,
Paul G

Somebody, “Get’s It!!!”

Sometime others say it better than the person that lived it! As a Navy Nuke for eight years and with three years underwater on a sub the following article conveys the attitude of the nuclear division on a typical Nuclear Submarine! http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/30/opinion/sunday/friedman-parallel-parking-in-the-arctic-circle

 

Parallel Parking in the Arctic Circle

 

My strongest impression, though, was experiencing something you see too little of these days on land: “Excellence.” You’re riding in a pressurized steel tube undersea. If anyone turns one knob the wrong way on the reactor or leaves a vent open, it can be death for everyone. This produces a unique culture among these mostly 20-something submariners. As one officer put it: “You become addicted to integrity.” There is zero tolerance for hiding any mistake. The sense of ownership and mutual accountability is palpable.

And that is why, said Adm. Joseph Tofalo, the Navy’s director of undersea warfare, who was also on the trip, “There is no multiple-choice exam for running the sub’s nuclear reactor.” If you want to be certified to run any major system on this ship, he added, “everything is an oral and written exam to demonstrate competency.”

 Parallel Parking in the Arctic Circle

BT Utility Specialists Dry Cask Storage In house “Team” continues to grow!!!

BT Utility Specialists is proud to announce the addition of Robert Vandevender. We won a contract to oversee a loading campaign for one of our TN clients and added a member to our growing “Team”. I am proud to announce he is our third member that did tours on the Ulysses S. Grant SSBN 631 and like myself was an ELT on that vessel. (Gene Mace is the other Grant member)

We made life easier by completing oversight of the construction of HSM’s for our second major client. Kudos to Dave Kern. You may contact Todd Stevens if you need further clarification/(reference on our professionalism).

While we are providing the expertise for the welding program to Zion Solutions (BT Welding Engineer, June Morgan, & Welding Systems Maintenance Tech, Chris Schlagowsky) we hope to be saving clients substantial funds in that area this year.

From 2015 and beyond…..

During the 2014 year, Bernie’s Team will be transitioning to its DBA name of BT Utility Specialists and will be nationally known by that name from 2015 and beyond.

The name “Bernie’s Team” was founded as a matter of ease rather than fore thought. Although some of our clients like the name “Team” in the title others thought it a little to informal for large contracts. Some of our clients prefer to keep the “Team” name concept because that is something that is lacking in today’s working environment. 2014 will be a transition time for various reasons.

BT Utility Specialists still encompasses the team approach but with the “Sounds of Silence” governing the name.

BT Utility Specialists is preparing to take the world by storm and during this HOLIDAY SEASON would like to thank those responsible. First, the “Excellent” employees who take pride in our model and show their support by excelling in their positions. Secondly, for our Client’s who have given us the opportunity to provide them the services they should get from a “consultant.” Thirdly, and with great pride, we need to thank those people that give tirelessly hour after hour, day after day, weekend after weekend, to show the SPIRIT and PROFESSIONALISM to find the “Best of the Best” to represent us both in our offices and on our Client sites.

BT Utility Specialists currently serve seven (7) Utility sites under direct contract and have proposals or requests to be added to four (4) more Approved Vendors List (AVL) in 2014. The Industry deserves a break and “We” deserve a break too. Our industry pronounces their problems daily, but appears to settle for mediocrity. Not only do we have the “Best of the Best,” our pricing model is fair and offers exceptional value for the cost. We’ve struggled daily against the industry norms for the past several years and our clients continue to deal with high overheads forcing them to sometimes settle for less than adequate services. BT Utility Specialists should be a welcomed relief for those Clients seeking positive change!! We will conquer the politics and succeed in our endeavor to become the new industry benchmark for our competitors in 2014!!

Wounded Warrior Project

The issues leading to the government shutdown represent important concerns for Congress, the Administration, and the American public. While we remain nonpartisan on individual issues, we strongly urge Congress to put politics aside and consider the impact of the shutdown on the pay, benefits, and healthcare for our veterans and their families. These brave men and women fought and sacrificed for the very rights and freedoms that allow these debates to go on. We owe them more than this.

If you are an Alumnus and Family Support member, we understand you may have questions about the government shutdown and how this decision will affect the services offered to you. Please remember that we are here for you and your family during this time to help provide information, guidance, and support. Your teammates at the WWP Resource Center will be happy to put you in contact with the appropriate teammate or provide you with up-to-date information and guidance. The Resource Center is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST Mon-Fri. and can be reached at 888.WWP.ALUM (888.997.2586) or via email at resourcecenter@woundedwarriorproject.org.

We have also created a list online that outlines what will and will not be affected: http://wwpinc.org/x

Force On Force……Security

 

Bernies Team goes the extra mile for Independence day…….our part to stop terrorism!!!

 

BT is preparing to provide every aspect of Security to our Industry and any other technology that has the need for Security.

 

Our website in the very near future (As soon as our IT TEAM meet) we will have a “Force on Force” web page. We have the “Special Forces” personnel standing on the ready to help our clients. In fact Mr. Robert Buda currently works for us at Ft. Calhoun, along with our Security upgrade crew of Bob Hopkins, Bill Persick, Stephen Fisher, Al Johnson, Kathleen Britt, and Jake Tesar.

 

If you pull the Tab on the “Home” page you will see a partially complete page on our “Members who have served!!!

 

 

There again, we will be incorporating more once our force on force page is posted.

 

BT is very proud of our Veteran status and is trying to do our part to supply Veterans in the market place. We look for our clients to join us in this cause both by direct hire and utilizing our company of professional veterans!!!

 

Bernie’s Team is proud to be a managed task organization that provides Staff Augmentation with the backing of its coaches and players.

 

Ahead of Schedule…….Below Budget…….In a safe manner!!!

 

Because of the entire organization which makes up “Bernies Team”, we have eight Nuclear Utilities and fourteen sites under contract. We have three contracts with support from our NQA/Quality Oversight.

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Remember Safety first, Quality always and Technical Growth sets us apart!!!

A 2013 Quality Perspective

Before I press the publish button I feel obligated to “Welcome Paul Gillespie” not only to Bernie’s Team but to the contributors to our company and the Bernie’s Team website. I have all of you at a disadvantage, in that I have gotten to read Paul’s first post before you; and I for one am looking forward to the next one.

Bernie, I think you stumbled on a keeper!!!

An auditor is a man who watches the battle from the safety of the hills and then comes down to bayonet the wounded. – Sir Charles Lyell, American accountant, 1797 – 1875.

Because of the way that quality assurance began in the commercial nuclear industry, that statement by Mr. Lyell has been often repeated and sadly, not without merit. As a reaction to the adoption of 10CFR50 Appendix B in the early 1970’s, it was not uncommon for companies engaged in the nuclear construction business to simply designate certain individuals as “QA.” With very little training or qualifications, many became “auditors” and were perceived as those folks that found problems long after work had been completed. The process was similar to going all-out to close the barn door after the horse had run away. Quality assurance was practiced in a reactive way. The QA folks were auditors, and it was perceived that that is all they did. Thankfully, times have changed in most areas of the nuclear industry and we have a more proactive approach to meeting expectations.
Although I am an old “QA guy” as opposed to an old guy that works in QA (and there is a difference), I am not old school. Having worked in so many different segments of the nuclear world, I learned years ago that you cannot push a chain up a hill and the best approach to effectively implement a quality assurance program was through leading, teaching, and coaching. The quality of a product or a service then becomes an individual responsibility instead of the responsibility of “that group over there.” It is all about taking ownership and demonstrating control of the various processes we use to complete a task.
From time to time, I will post short articles here that I hope will be informative regarding the various happenings and “hot-button” issues in the industry. Things are changing in the nuclear quality world and we will need to adjust accordingly.
Until next time,

Paul G

A note of Thanks to our Clients!!!

Bernies Team is going to need a directory!!!

Three years of continuous growth and addition of new and old friends.
We are almost complete in our first fully burdened department. Used Fuel Management Services (UFMS).

We have Scott Atwater….known SME for ISFISI/Cranes/NRC Oversight….Dave Kern….HSM’s/Shift Supervision…………John Schmoll…..QA/QC Welding/Cask Manufacturing…Hayes (June) Morgan…SME Welding Engineer.…Paul Gillespie…..NQA-1/Level III Director Nuclear Oversight and our secret weapon for next month to be announced………………..!!!

Our Clients saw the need….We answered the challenge!!!

This month my old friend, Ali Egap, joined our Team to assist Ft. Calhoun on a critical path assignment. Ali has never been requested to do a project that was not completed excellently. Ali has more recommendations from CNO’s than most people even know!!!

Our talented staff has been answering requests from clients and our administrative and accounting members have been sending/receiving paperwork at the speed of light.

Our reputation is growing and our successful completion of projects is piling up. We have been blessed by years of traveling in the right circles and knowing the right people to get the job done.

Bernie’s Team is proud to be a managed task organization that provides Staff Augmentation with the backing of its coaches and players.

Ahead of Schedule…….Below Budget…….In a safe manner!!!
We are proud to say….We have been there before so getting there again is easy!!!

There seems to be a new and exciting era of wanting to get the best of the best for Nuclear Power. I for one thought we were settling for mediocrity due to cost considerations. Management has started to show us that when they see what actual cost savings by time allocation can do, they once again will request…..An “A” Team.

Because of the entire organization which makes up “Bernies Team”, we have seven Utilities and fourteen sites under contract in 2013.

Remember Safety first, Quality always and Technical Growth sets us apart!!!

2013—-Starting the Year with a Bang!!!

January’s topic is “more” Kudos to the “Team”………..

2013 starts Hayes (June) Morgan, our Welding Engineer on assignment at Zion Solutions. 2013 starts with Ali Egap, our Engineering Manager, going to supervise a critical path project at Ft. Calhoun. 2013 starts with Dave Kern, Manager – Used Fuel Management Services, starting an organized approach to HSM construction on our client Sites.
January is exploding with talent from Bernies Team answering the call to our Clients. We appreciate the requests and hope they don’t slow down. During our period of extreme growth I wanted to both thank our clients and crew for bearing with us. We consistently answer the call for duty and as little as possible allow for human exhaustion. I for one, being a retired start up Engineer always enjoyed 7/12’s. Who would think you could get back to that hectic era running a consulting firm. My thoughts and accolades go out to Denise McClay and John Dunning for their undying dedication to keep the paperwork trail flowing to meet our clients’ needs.
Bernies Team has captured historical proportions for instant growth in the period between “Thanksgiving and New Years”. I am probably the only one who sees what it takes to get these “Team Members” through the process of being proposed to actual “Boots on the Ground”. So on behalf of our clients, to the staff , “I say, Job Well Done!!!”.
Last but not least, let me mention 2013 brings to us the opportunity to assist Southern Company in all aspects. A mountain of opportunity and a mountain of responsibility for the monitoring and meeting of their needs.

Through “Teamwork” we aspire to excellence in all our tasks!!!

We are looking for an exciting 2013 in, Safety, Quality and Growth!!!