Looking ahead to new missions, building upgrades and delivering on promises

U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville
Published Jan. 28, 2015

Huntsville Center Commander Col. Robert Ruch led off a Jan. 23 town hall sharing praise he’s received from leaders across USACE and the Army, and looking ahead at work coming to the Center as a result of successful project delivery time after time.

“To get thanks at a time when you’re not expecting it tells you what people think about us,” Ruch said, relaying a call early that morning from Brig. Gen. Donald (Ed) Jackson Jr. in Afghanistan. The conversation about metering with the soon-to-be Army Corps of Engineers’ Deputy Commanding General for Military and International Operations ended with an unexpected thank you to the entire Huntsville Center team.

During the town hall held at the University of Alabama in Huntsville’s University Center, Ruch weaved in his priorities for 2015: support the fight, deliver on promises and be a better place to work.

“I may be the first commander ever in Huntsville who talked about slowing down a little bit,” Ruch said.

New missions continue coming along fast and furious – and some are coming back around – like in Iraq, he said. The Center has been asked to perform work for Jordan, New Zealand, Angola, Albania and Kazakhstan, and Ruch said he expects more missions supporting Transatlantic Division.

“If we have to slow down a little bit to get resourced to make sure we are able to deliver on our promises, then we need to do that,” he said. The nearly 100 percent cost-reimbursable organization has a very entrepreneurial spirit, with innovative program managers who are continually developing new projects, identifying potential customers, ensuring fellow USACE districts are informed and working together with the districts to achieve viable solutions for customers.

While the Center achieved record success in 2014, Ruch cautioned, “If we don’t deliver on the promises we’ve made” the customers won’t keep coming back.

It is equally important to keep Center employees engaged in meaningful work and have a professional environment, Ruch said, discussing the Center’s 2014 climate survey. Ruch said he read about 1,000 individual survey comments to get a better understanding of employee satisfaction and morale.

Maintaining a positive climate “goes back to making sure we are taking care of resources; everybody here is a resource, and if you’re not happy and you don’t know where you’re heading in your career, you’re likely to go someplace else.”

Ruch ended the town hall responding to employee questions about upcoming building renovations, annual performance awards, use of the fitness center and cafeteria, teleworking, career development opportunities and support for the center’s activities association.

The Center, which will remain in its current location for at least the next five years, is conducting a requirements analysis through the summer to determine the needs of every directorate and small office and develop a course of action for updating workspaces and common areas of the 20-year-old building.

“This is a great place to work, but we can all make it better.”