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For President and CEO Wayne Cornell, the success of DZSP 21 LLC has been based upon the passion of its people for their work. “They are focused on pleasing their customers and they take great pride in a job well done,” he says. “It truly is a workforce committed to excellence and continual improvement.”

Based in Hagatna, Guam, DZSP 21 provides base operations support services in the Pacific. These include port operations support, facilities and utilities operations and maintenance, transportation fleet management, environmental management and food services for a U.S. Navy hospital.

DZSP 21, Cornell notes, is a limited liability company that reports to the joint venture board of three firms: Defense Support Services (DS2) LLC, Parsons Infrastructure and Technology Inc., and First Support Services Inc. “It was formed specifically for the Navy’s Base Operations Support Services Contract on Guam,” he says.

The acronym, Cornell explains, was derived from the original 2003 joint venture for the company, which consisted of Day & Zimmerman, SKE Support Services Inc. (SKESSI) and Parsons I&T. “The 21 represented the 21st century,” he notes. 

Before the contract was awarded, Day & Zimmerman formed DS2 with Lockheed Martin. “DS2 was created to focus the resources of two of the industry’s leading providers of equipment and facility maintenance,” Cornell explains.

Additionally, First Group (2004) purchased SKESSI and became First Support Services Inc. “The DZSP 21 company logo/acronym was retained, even though the joint venture members [and] parent companies became DS2, FSSI and Parsons,” he says.

Today, DZSP 21 employs a staff of more than 970 persons, including about 125 embedded subcontractor personnel and enjoyed sales of $103.6 million last year, Cornell says. In addition, “DZSP 21 LLC has become the Navy’s contractor of choice, earning their trust and confidence as a responsible, responsive and efficient contractor,” he states.

Additionally, DZSP 21 says it is the fourth largest employer on the island after the government, Calvo Enterprises and KenCorp. “In 2009, it was the seventh largest company in the Marianas based on 2008 sales,” the company says, noting that its success is dependent on the efforts of its workers. 

DZSP says it is guided in its work by the contract, statement of work, the budget and referenced publications. “We are committed to providing superlative products and services to our customers and are successful only if they are satisfied,” the company says.

“Our goal is to provide those products and services responsively at reasonable cost,” DZSP 21 says. “Although we use proven technologies, continually improving processes and best business practices, we constantly seek to better our performance.”

An Experienced Leader

Cornell says he originally joined DZSP 21 in 2007. Before coming to Guam, Cornell gained extensive experience in such fields as government facilities/installation operations and maintenance, project management, construction, engineering, housing and contract administration.

A registered professional engineer in Hawaii and Virginia, and a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Cornell is also a retired commander from the U.S. Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps with two years of enlisted service and 19 years of commissioned service.

After retiring in 1991, Cornell was the director of facilities management and security at Aurora University in Aurora, Ill. He has worked in government contracting at such firms as DynCorp, Baker Support Services Inc., Raytheon Technical Services Co. and C. Martin Co. 

But Cornell says he now feels at home in his role at DZSP 21, where he also serves as a project director. “I have enjoyed the job immensely,” he says, adding that he has fun at the company.

“Throughout my life, I have been blessed many times over in so many ways, and I can never thank the Lord enough,” he declares. “However, the leadership of DZSP 21 is by far and away the best job I have ever had.

“Of course, once again, people make it that way – not only the wonderful people in DZSP 21 but also the uniformed leadership at Joint Region Marianas, Naval Base Guam, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas and Andersen Air Force Base, our civil service government counterparts, and the great people of Guam,” he says.

DZSP Superstars

Cornell is proud of his entire staff at DZSP 21. “I have superstars throughout the company,“ he declares. “Everyone contributes, everyone has a role [and] everyone has value.”

One associate is Sustainment, Restoration and Modernization (SRM) Manager Joseph “Bill” Suzuki who oversees the company’s SRM annex. “Having performed SRM services for 29 years with Navy Public Works and five years with Raytheon Technical Services, it fits my personality,” he says, noting that DZSP 21 does a good job of making its employees feel appreciated for their work.

Another experienced team member is Deputy Project Director/Business Director/Annex 0200 Manager Charles “Charlie” Geer, who joined the company in September 2006. Previously, Geer gained more than 25 years’ experience in defense contracting, which included starting his career at Zaragoza Air Base in Spain as the civil engineering financial manager.

In addition, he has worked for VT Griffin as a project manager at Ft. McPherson/Ft. Gillem in Georgia, and served as the company’s business manager at Ft. McCoy in Wisconsin. At DZSP 21, Geer says he has enjoyed working alongside the company’s employees and has appreciated its culture and morale.

“[I like] the constant drive to provide superior quality service to our customer, each and every day,” he says, noting that the company has open communication in its operations. “[We provide] safe, clean and functional working environments for our valued customers and provide the highest quality of life for our sailors, airmen and their families.

A third member is Rafael P. Mesa, Annex 1607 Manager for Potable Water Systems, who has been with the company since October 2005 and worked for the previous Base Operations Services Contractor, Raytheon, from 2000 to 2005. “Before that, I was a federal civil service employee, working with the public works’ utilities department from 1985 to 1996,” he says.

He notes that he also has enjoyed working alongside DZSP 21’s staff. “Utility work can be droll and repetitive,” he admits. “The youthful, well-trained and educated staff members approach their work with greater enthusiasm and open mindedness, which has led to great advances in efficiency of work and client satisfaction.”

All three men commend Cornell for his leadership. “I enjoy working with Mr. Cornell,” Geer says. “He and I share the same vision, priorities and ultimate goals for the company.”

Suzuki agrees. “Mr. Cornell respects and appreciates the value of the services you provide,” Suzuki says. “He is a vision-directed leader.

“He encourages everyone to visualize a future state that is better than the current state and motivates them to work towards that state,” Suzuki explains. “He leads by the particular demands of the situations, the particular requirements of the clients involved and the particular challenges facing DZSP 21.”

All three also are proud of DZSP 21’s work. For example, “As a service provider, our customer satisfaction rating for the last five trimesters has always been rated at five on a scale of one through five, with five being treated as outstanding,” Suzuki says. “Also, SRM’s performance has been evaluated [at] 100 percent for the last six trimesters.”

Geer adds that all of the company’s achievements make him proud. “We have seen a vast improvement in our supply chain management and the receiving of material on island,” he says. 

“We have taken big strides in automation, and have become the ‘go-to’ people for the Armed Forces,” he adds. “The morale committee is always dedicated to catering to our employees and helps boost morale in our annexes. The overall performance of all annexes and the awesome teamwork gives us the ability to execute our missions quickly.”

Additionally, “Teamwork is not just a slogan at DZSP 21 – it is a corporate lifestyle that all its employees ascribe to,” Mesa asserts. “I especially like the dignity, respect and appreciation afforded to all employees found under Wayne’s leadership.”

Never Staying Satisfied

During his time at DZSP 21 LLC, Cornell says he earned praise from its parent companies as he has evolved its culture into one focused on excellence and continual improvement. One area that he notes he focused on was leadership that encouraged its employees to challenge the status quo.

“[You should] never be satisfied with ‘good enough’ or even ‘excellent,’” Cornell says, noting that managers should continually seek to improve at all levels and help those who are weaker with processes and people.

“Our quality department inserts itself into the routines and meetings and operations of the annexes,” Cornell says, noting that each quality specialist is assigned a specific number of annexes.

“The specialists attend meetings, help with monthly reports, and review and analyze performance indicators and quality control inspections,” Cornell says.

“We have helped annexes with finance, procurement and contract folks as well,” he says. “As with any process improvement methodology, you need to involve a diagonal slice of stakeholders, i.e., a small sample of key influencers in or to that process,” he continues.

Visions and Models

Another step that has had an effect on DZSP 21’s staff was implementing a vision that was adopted by everyone, Cornell says. He explains that each employee receives a brochure that talks about the importance of its people, its mission and vision, and four important policies: equal opportunity, intolerance of harassment, ethical values and safety.

In addition, every employee undergoes orientation training. “The first two hours of every orientation is me,” Cornell says, explaining that he talks to employees personally about DZSP 21’s values and expectations. “Those messages are reinforced in many ways – in our company newsletter, quality department publications, companywide emails, staff meetings, all hands meetings and walkabouts.”

The company’s managers are also held responsible for acting ethically, and strongly emphasizing professionalism and continuous improvement. “Early in my tour, I made it clear that our products and services would be as perfect as we could make them,” Cornell recalls.

“Our products and services are significantly better today than they were a few years ago, and people are writing better too,” he says, adding that the company’s quality department also has implemented lean Six Sigma 5S within its operations. 

“In 2008, I implemented a ‘clean up the clutter’ campaign, which the Quality Department converted to a continuous LSS 5S program. Our offices, warehouses, storage yards, workspaces, etc. now exude professionalism,” he says. “When we assumed logistics and transportation at Andersen Air Force Base, similar procedures were implemented. One 5S project resulted in freeing up over 11,000 square feet of warehouse space.”

Power to the People

DZSP 21 also has focused on empowering its people, even at the lowest possible levels, Cornell says. He explains that it is important for managers to articulate their expectations and hold people accountable. “[Managers should] give them responsibility but also authority,” he says. “Allow people to create, imagine and think outside the box.”

One example of this at DZSP 21 was the development of G-Net, its Web-based, enterprise management system. This system allows the government and DZSP 21 employees to have continuous, real-time access to contract deliverables, reports, operating procedures, costs/invoicing and performance management. 

Initially, DZSP 21 hired a subcontractor to set up the system, but it experienced challenges from the very start. For example, “The repository aspect became functional but was extremely slow,” Cornell recalls. “Users had to drill through several menus to get the information they required, and it took 30 seconds or more for each page to refresh.”

Additionally, the linkage to certain applications was not in real time and required uploading. To correct it, DZSP 21 worked with consultants at Dell, who determined that the subcontractor’s software would not be able to work as promised.

After terminating its subcontractor, DZSP 21 turned the project over to its Management Information Systems (MIS) team, Cornell says. “First, they fine-tuned our legacy G-Net so it was performing optimally and then turned to creating an enterprise management information system that would perform as proposed,” he recalls. “The MIS team researched available systems and chose to go with a Windows operating system and Microsoft.net architecture.” 

Today, Cornell reports, the system has performed beyond expectations and at a lower cost. “We gave this young team our vision – exceptional functionality, fast, low cost and done in less than a year – got out of their way and let them do their job,” he says. “They developed their project plan, developed storyboards, established deadlines, reported on progress and went to work.”

Giving Credit

DZSP 21 also has focused on is recognizing the performance of its employees, Cornell says. “We have now a great recognition program,” he says.

For example, “Transportation hands out dozens of certificates of appreciation several times a year,” he says. “Government counterparts help to distribute those certificates and officers from NAVFACMAR [Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas] often show up as well.” 

Additionally, during “Talk to the Boss” sessions, Cornell says that he personally hands out employee awards to honor their success in front of other staff members. “We [also] showcase our workforce in our company newsletter, in our Quality publications and in e-mails,” he says.

Finding a Common Ground

DZSP 21 also has improved its relationships with the government under Cornell’s leadership. “At my first award fee board meeting in October 2007, it was obvious to me that annex managers and their government counterparts were not talking with one another,” he recalls. 

“It’s not unusual for the government and the contractor to look at a set of facts and have different perspectives,” he says. “It was apparent back then that they not only had different perspectives, but also that each was using a different set of facts.”

To resolve this divide, Cornell insisted that annex managers have at least two meetings weekly with contracting officer representatives (CORs). In addition, he insisted that they collaborate with CORs during the monthly evaluation and self assessment processes.

Cornell recalls that he also saw an “old-school” mentality within the government that contractors would cut corners wherever they could or that they were unwilling to work with the client. “Once managers began meeting and partnering with their CORs, evaluation scores rose – so did mutual respect, trust and confidence,” he says.

“Sharing information creates a bond,” He says. “Everyone feels that they are part of the team. There is mutual investment.”

In addition, Cornell says, the company’s contract requires formal partnering. “Although I believe there were excellent relationships at key leadership positions, relationships at the middle management level were not as professional as they could be,” he says.

Cornell then arranged for a two-man team to oversee a two-and-a-half day partnering workshop. One facilitator, John McIlhenny, was an instructor and director of programs from the Defense Acquisition University. The other, he notes, was Frank Carr, a retired U.S. Army Corps of Engineers attorney who specialized in alternative dispute resolution. “When I was conducting research on the Internet and looking for information regarding partnering in the government, [Carr’s name] was surfacing everywhere,” Cornell says.

However, the process did take some time to find traction, Cornell admits. ”It took me nearly eight months to get all the stars in proper alignment, but we held a partnering session in August of 2008,” he recalls. “There were a lot of skeptics in the beginning, but all were engaged well before the workshop ended.

“It was the best partnering session I had ever attended,” he says, noting that others echoed his sentiments. Since then, he says, the Quality Department has started publishing a partnering newsletter. “It’s the increased respect, trust and confidence in our ability to perform that has made us the Navy’s contractor of choice.” 

Breaking Records

Cornell adds that he is proud of the company’s recent achievements, which include DZSP 21 breaking business records in 2010. The company’s December sales exceeded $12 million, while it also totaled $103.6 million in sales for the entire year.

“It’s really amazing,” he raves. “Back in 2005, when we [had] approximately 400 employees, we thought we would be lucky to get up to $50 million in sales and 500 employees.”

In DZSP 21’s proposal, it estimated sales of $43 million to $44 million annually, and did not expect to have more than 450 employees, including embedded contractors. “Our growth is attributable to our stellar performance and our client’s confidence in our ability to get things done responsively,” he says.

Developing Its Own

DZSP 21’s business has not been without challenges, Cornell admits. “I believe one of the greatest challenges this industry faces is an aging workforce with inadequate input at the bottom,” he says. “This is a problem here on Guam and within DZSP 21 where 24 percent of our workforce is 55 years old or more. We even have six employees older than 75 years of age!

“No one wants to be a carpenter, mason, electrician, plumber or sheet metal worker anymore,” he says. “I think everyone wants to go to college and become a doctor, lawyer or banker. 

“At one time, we believed that issue would be exacerbated by the buildup associated with the Marines relocating from Okinawa and the concomitant high demand for craftsmen, engineers and construction men,” he explains. “However, with the slower forecasted pace for the buildup, the problem may not be as acute as we predicted.”

However, to prepare, the company started an apprenticeship program, and 14 apprentices recently celebrated their two-year anniversary with the company. “We are adding more apprentices every year and are now up to a total of 24,” he reports. “We are developing our own, so to speak.” 

What Lies Ahead

When contemplating the future of DZSP 21, Cornell admits that he is unsure about what is ahead, due to the federal government. “Right now, with the Continuing Resolution Authorization gridlock in Congress, there is a lot of uncertainty,” he says. 

“However, I certainly hope and believe that it will be sorted out and Guam will get the defense funding it was promised. Of course, I am the eternal optimist. Guam is ‘where America’s day begins’ and because of its proximity to Asia, provides a unique key to U.S. military strategy in the Pacific,” he continues.

“Guam is critical to the defense and security of the United States,” Cornell adds. “The military missions on Guam are growing. DZSP 21 expects to grow with those increases.”

Although DZSP 21’s current contract ends at the end of 2014, Cornell believes the company will continue serving the U.S. Navy. “Our goal is to continue to be the Navy’s trusted, responsive and cost-effective contractor of choice and win the follow-on contract,” he says. 

Geer also sees a strong future for the company. “Our company consists of the most talented, dedicated and educated workforce who strive to be better, perform faster and are motivated to serve our customers,” he says. “I see nothing but continued growth for DZSP 21.” 

Mesa elaborates that the massive move of Marines from Okinawa to Guam will require the government to employ an experienced BOS contractor to make the transition as seamless as possible. “DZSP 21 will be able to position itself to be the government’s contractor when that time comes,” he says.  

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