On Monday, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems officially became Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding. It may sound like a small name change, but the implications could impact thousands of employees. That's because the company is merging independent shipyards into one operation. The man charged with leading this transition is the company's new president, Mike Petters.
For the past two days, the new president has spent time learning his way around the company's Pascagoula shipyard and getting to know its employees. Mike Petters says he knows workers worry about what his arrival will mean for them.
"I have not been sent here to close anything," said Petters. "I have not been sent here to lay anybody off. I have been sent here to form this sector, to create this operation. I am here today and I am in Mississippi because I have a couple of years in Virginia. I have a couple of days here, so I need to understand what goes on here a whole lot better."
Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding is a $5.5 billion operation. Its 40,000 employees are spread over Mississippi, Virginia, Louisiana, California along with 52 sites across the world. Petters says his job is to realign the shipyards without stripping them of their identities.
"There is a lot of concern that we're going to bring in the Newport News way and impose it on this part of the business," said Petters. "The fact is we're doing something entirely different than that. We have a Newport News way of doing things. We have a Pascagoula/Ingalls way of things. We have the Avondale way of doing things. We have a continental maritime way of doing things in California. This new organization is not about taking any one of those and imposing it on the other. It's about taking all of those and creating some new called the shipbuilding way of doing things."
Petters says there will be challenges, but the pay off will be a more efficient, more effective way of doing business.
The former Navy officer said, "The thing that makes me wake up in the morning and go to work is that we are doing things for the men and women in our services who are doing things for us. It's very important that we get our part of it right so that they can get their part of it right."