Defense contractor DynCorp Technical Services has been forced to cut and then reinstate hundreds of maintenance jobs at the Charleston Naval Weapons Station in recent years because of fluctuating workloads.
Each new round of layoffs made it increasingly difficult to recall qualified help, said Gary Addison, DynCorp's program director at the sprawling military installation.
"One individual who had to be laid off told me, 'I've got a good job now and stability. Why should I come back?'" said Addison. "I didn't have a good answer for him."
Now Addison thinks the company, which rehabilitates battle-scarred Army tanks, transporters, Humvees and other mobile equipment in Goose Creek, has come up with a solution.
Besides performing under the terms of its own 10-year contract, DynCorp is now authorized by the government to seek work from private contractors at other military facilities. For instance, the company's Charleston unit is refurbishing 1,000 pieces of equipment that belong to the 101st Airborne Division in Fort Campbell, Ky., Addison said.
These side jobs are called "reimbursement work," he said.
"It allows us to bring in other equipment to keep people employed here," Addison said.
DynCorp's payroll depends on the annual renegotiation of its contract, which is determined by the projected workload for the coming year. Some years the company was flooded with work orders. In other years, such as when troops and equipment were shipped out to Iraq and Afghanistan, demand for its services dried up.
Much of that equipment is now coming back to be repaired, repainted and redeployed. DynCorp's 350-acre facility at the Naval Weapons Station is one of five staging areas around the world where items ranging from forklifts to small arms are put back in working order. About 5,200 vehicles and other big pieces of equipment will be cycled through Goose Creek by March, Addison said.
The increasing workload means the company is hiring again. Last month, DynCorp was authorized to expand its work force to 650 employees from about 500. Addison said he is still trying to fill 90 vacancies for mechanics, electricians and other specialties.
He said the stability that the reimbursement jobs offer will help save the government money in the long run and ease DynCorp's recruiting challenges.
By avoiding mass layoffs, he said, the company can reduce its training expenses and recruiting costs.
Also, if the company can't guarantee steady employment, local residents are going to be hesitant about working there. As a result, DynCorp has had to bill the government to move new hires from out-of-state.
DynCorp, a subsidiary of El Segundo, Calif.-based Computer Sciences Corp., is the 10th-largest U.S. defense contractor, according to CorpWatch.
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