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Awards adding up for Letterkenny

June 01, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Letterkenny Army Depot received another accolade from the U.S. Army on Thursday, one that coincided with the depot's second Business Opportunity Showcase that attracted executives from nearly 40 companies looking into doing business at the installation.

"This is something you won, the work force at Letterkenny," Gen. Benjamin Griffin told an assembly of a few hundred depot employees and officials as he presented the Army Superior Unit Award, the first ever given to a depot.

"I put you up there on a pedestal based on your performance" to serve in motivating other installations, said Griffin, the commanding general of the Army Materiel Command.

"You're as good as anybody I've seen in the private sector," Griffin said.

The private sector was at the depot for the Business Opportunity Showcase, sponsored by the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce and the Franklin County Area Development Corp. The number of businesses attending was up from the inaugural event last year, said Jerry Warnement, a member of Opportunity '05, a group formed a few years ago to lobby on behalf of the depot in the last round of Base Realignment and Closure Commission decisions.

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There were no exhibitors at the 2006 showcase, but 12 were set up this time, including such heavy hitters in defense contracting as Boeing and Lockheed Martin. As a result of last year's showcase, Lockheed Martin moved $4.5 million in equipment to Letterkenny and formed joint partnerships with the depot, Warnement said.

John Hernandez, a project manager for Boeing, said installations such as Letterkenny have the machinery and work force in place that could be used for joint ventures to turn out products at lower cost.

"Every time I've come up here in 3 1/2 years, and that's been half a dozen times, I've been giving you an award," Maj. Gen. James Pillsbury, commander of the Army Aviation and Missile Command, told depot workers. He pinned the Superior Unit Award streamer on the depot flag.

The citation for the award read that it was in recognition of excellence for outstanding performance. It noted that Letterkenny was the first depot to receive a Shingo Award for Excellence in Manufacturing for its work with tactical missiles and air defense systems and earned a second Shingo for its Humvee tactical vehicle program.

"It feels real good," said Lester Baughman, who spent 30 of his more than 38 years at the depot in Building 350, where the ceremony took place.

"Happy we got it. Proud we got it," said Adam Gift, who has worked at the depot for about 2 1/2 years.

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