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2016 Tradesmen of the Year Announced

The May General Membership Luncheon meeting was held on Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at the Portsmouth Renaissance Hotel. The luncheon featured presentation of the annual Virginia Ship Repair Foundation Tradesmen of the Year Awards, presented by PNC Bank. These awards honor the "best of the best" ship repairers in Hampton Roads.

The winning Tradesmen each received a check for $750, a $250 gift certificate to Ruth Chris Steakhouse, a personalized commemorative Tradesman of the Year jacket and tool bag, a family pack of tickets to see the Norfolk Tides play at Harbor Park (along with $50 of Baseball Bucks gift certificates to spend in the park), and a family pack of tickets to visit Nauticus. Winners will also receive recognition on the VSRA website, as well as during a ceremony at the National Maritime Day celebration hosted by the Propeller Club.

This year's Senior Tradesman of the Year is Diego Mullen, Sr. of Epsilon Systems Solutions, Inc. Diego is a Tank Cleaning Specialist with over 20 years of experience. In his 14 years with Epsilon Systems, he has an incredible 99% closeout rate, and has saved the Navy thousands of dollars in re-cleaning and tank closeout costs. His dedication to safety is evident, as he completes daily walkthroughs of his job sites to identify and correct any hazards. He is relied upon as a new hire liaison, and for 10 years has trained all of his company’s new employees on proper equipment use and company policies to ensure standards are met and upheld. Diego shows exemplary mentorship and leadership by having junior tradesmen shadow him in order to learn and improve their knowledge. Although bilges on vessels can be nasty places, and contain all manner of oily sludge and seawater, he has completed over 200 successful bilge turnovers. He has been named Epsilon’s employee of the year, and has also been honored by the Navy’s USS George H. W. Bush leadership with the “Avenger Award” multiple times. Beyond his phenomenal work in the industry, Diego is a dedicated family man who has been married for ten years and has ten children. He has coached his children’s little league baseball, football, and basketball teams, and is a regular volunteer with his church at food drives, soup kitchens, and community celebrations.

This year’s Junior Tradesman of the Year is Larry Nathaniel Broach, Jr., of BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair. Larry is an Outside Machinist with four and a half years of experience. He was the valedictorian of his Apprentice School Class, and has received numerous accolades from customers and production superintendents. Larry has never had a single safety violation, and has been awarded three safety coins while completing work for the Navy. He is well known not only for seeking knowledge from senior mechanics and supervisors, but for striving to share his knowledge with others in the shop. His continual desire to learn as much as possible about his trade, along with his natural leadership and mentoring skills, have led to his meteoric rise to the position of Craft Supervisor One in just 4 short years – a position that usually takes 10 years to attain. Beyond that, though, Larry has an eye on the future of ship repair. He regularly brings high school students to the shipyard to teach them about possible careers in ship repair, and what a future in our industry can offer. He has personally sponsored and guided graduating seniors into careers in ship repair. We honor and appreciate Larry's dedication to his craft, and to the ship repair trades as a whole.

Each nominee received a $25 gift card to Bass Pro Shops. This years nominees were:

Junior Tradesmen

Matthew Kievit (Advanced Marine Preservation LLC)
Calvin Escobar (AMSEC LLC)
Larry Broach (BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair)
Steven Hambrick (Epsilon Systems Solutions, Inc.)
Stanley Smith (Fairbanks Morse Engine)
Joshua McCulloch (Marine Specialty Painting)
Christopher Brimley (Newport News Shipbuilding)
Mary Walker (Oceaneering LLC)
Jimmie Howze (Prism Maritime LLC)
Ramon Rodriguez (Surge Force LLC)
Sean Foley (Tecnico Corporation)

Senior Tradesmen

Henry Smith (Advanced Marine Preservation, LLC)
Terry Watford (AMSEC LLC)
Dempsey Williams (BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair)
Diego Mullen, Sr. (Epsilon Systems Solutions, Inc.)
Gary North (General Dynamics NASSCO – Norfolk)
Robert Wyckoff, Jr. (Newport News Shipbuilding)
Derek Dickenson (Oceaneering LLC)
Eldon Lair (Phoenix International Holdings, Inc.)
Earl Morris (Surge Force LLC)
Clinton Gaylor (Tecnico Corporation)

The VSRF Tradesmen of the Year Awards, presented by PNC Bank, honor the “best of the best” ship repairers in Hampton Roads. The Junior Tradesman of the Year is selected among member company nominees with less than 5 years of experience in their field, who demonstrate commitment, excellent skills, and a focus on safety, and serve as a role model to their fellow tradesmen. The Senior Tradesman of the Year has more than 5 years of experience in their field, and demonstrates leadership, innovation in their craft, mentorship, and contributions to the community.

Congratulations to this year's nominees and winners!

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