Local vendors and subcontractors are feeling the construction boom, with the current wave of military projects that are coming with the U.S. Department of Defense’s pivot to the region.
By Oyaol Ngirairikl
Contractors JWS Refrigeration & Airconditioning Ltd. Guam and Morrico Equipment Guam are busy supporting projects.
JWS is a subcontractor to prime contractors, as well as some of the MAC or multiple award contractors. Morrico provides large equipment rentals — from earth moving equipment to generators as well as fuel delivery — for different projects. As is becoming a common refrain in the contracting community, both companies are concerned about having enough skilled and qualified workers.
Morrico employs 62 personnel who currently are busy either bringing equipment to and from various work sites, delivering fuel for the equipment or maintaining them.
“A lot of our equipment is with the Air Force’s Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer (RED HORSE) squadron,” Torgun Smith, vice president and general manager of Morrico; says.
The team’s specific personnel challenge is finding qualified people, especially diesel technicians and drivers for tractor trailers and larger trucks. The company is willing to take on interns and apprentices, in addition to well experienced individuals. “It’s hard to find all of the above,” Smith says.
“The boom in construction has been good for our business and the services we provide. There has been an increase in the jobs we are bidding on and as we close some of the bids the workload continues to keep our Mechanical HVAC division very busy,” according to the company’s president and CEO, John W. Scragg. “This has also had an impact on our Hotel and Restaurant Equipment division. We have seen an increase in sales to the various military jobs as well as local hotels.”
JWS Guam branch has 37 employees as of March 31, and employ s16 people at JWS Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Ltd. Saipan, as of May 16.
Scragg and his team say that while an increase in local workforce is ideal, it may also be insufficient, given the projects that are being anticipated by the industry. They’d like to see some out of the box ideas to help support the industry.
“As our workload increases, finding workers has become a major concern,” Scragg says. “We fully support the efforts of institutions like the Guam Trades Academy but feel that more is needed to support the needed trades for projects ongoing and coming up. We would like to see an increase in the H-2 visa program. Maybe even allow companies that have branches in the CNMI the use of CW workers in CMNI to work in Guam.”
In early 2022, JWS was awarded a contract to handle supply and install of HVAC units at Lima Wharf on Naval Base Guam. The prime contractor is H20 Guam JV, a joint venture between Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co Inc. and Obayashi Corp. There has been a bit of delay in the civil works, hence the project is slated to be completed towards the end of the year.
Another project that JWS has taken on is the installation of 137 refrigeration units for the Andersen Air Force Base Commissary. The prime contractor is Hussmann Corp. (Nelson Refrigeration). JWS started this job in April, with an estimated completion date of November.
JWS also has provided equipment and services to The Redhorse Division at AAFB for various HVAC New and Replacement Projects
JWS is the exclusive distributor for Dunham-Bush equipment for Guam and Micronesia. Last year, the company supplied replacement HVAC equipment for a couple of prime contractors for the replacement of HVAV Systems for a number of buildings on Andersen, as well as a similar request for additional equipment for another set of buildings, says Athony C. Scragg, vice president and general manager, JWS Saipan.
For island projects, as a prime contractor, JWS was awarded the replacement and installation of HVAC units for Guam Community College. The job is scheduled to be done by September.
The work is far from over as more projects are coming down the pike, but the company is also aware of the needs of local customers, to include small businesses and residents.
“JWS is actively bidding for local and federal projects while also continuing to provide proposals to prime military contractors, the government of Guam and commercial and residential customers,” says Robert Perez, chief financial officer and general manager of JWS Guam.
There are a couple of housing projects at Naval Station Guam and Andersen JWS is watching closely, including a Department of Education HVAC project it hopes to bid on.
“We are always keeping an eye out for some of the Maritime contracting work that comes through a couple of prime contractors. JWS Refrigeration & Airconditioning Ltd. has a very good relationship with our prime contractors, and this been evident in repeat business with some prime contractors, as well as the increased opportunities to provide subcontract proposals,” says Anthony Scragg. “Last year, JWS celebrated its 50th anniversary of doing business in Guam and looks forward to many more years of providing our goods and services to Guam, the CNMI and throughout Micronesia.”