Yokota hosts Industry Day 2016
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Yokota hosted over 200 people, representing businesses from throughout Japan and the U.S., for the Kanto Plains Engineering Industry Day, April 28, 2016.
The event, led by the 374th Civil Engineer Squadron, 374th Contracting Squadron, United States Forces, Japan, and the Society of American Military Engineers, was an opportunity for U.S. government organizations to build partnerships with industries from throughout Japan in support of the wave of construction projects throughout the region.
"Industry Day is an opportunity to strengthen the alliance between the U.S. and our host nation," said Lt. Col. David. McCleese, 374 CES commander.
The conference was a chance for participants to learn about the projects that are underway at the various military installations. It not only included briefings from the Yokota staff, but also Camp Zama, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Navy Facility Engineering Command personnel representing U.S. forces throughout the Kanto Plain region.
"The most important thing we're doing here isn't the briefings, rather, the relationship building with our Japanese partners," said Eric Warner, 374th Civil Engineer Squadron engineering flight chief. "The goal was to bring more companies into the mix that will add competition for construction contracts which we hope will result in lower prices for our various construction projects."
There are a variety of construction projects in the works here. From large scale projects - an entirely new high school, new warehouses, and new Security Forces Squadron facility - to simple renovations and repairs, Yokota often seeks partnership with different industries in Japan to accomplish each goal.
"We've noticed in the past that sometimes, when we put projects out for bid and solicit companies for their business that we receive very few bids," Warner said. "Industry Day is how we're going to increase that pool. In the past, companies had the perception that it's difficult to work with us due to the different contracting and engineering rules and standards we have in place. However, meeting and interacting with them in this forum allows for us to work through some of their hesitations."
Warner admitted that as with any partnership, challenges do arise. Between U.S. government organizations and Japanese industries, many times challenges arise due to language barriers and differing construction practices.
"By having this forum, we can begin building relationships beforehand to make it easier for them to meet our requirements down the road," Warner said.
After the conference, and the Society of American Military Engineers hosted a golf tournament at Tama Hills recreational facility, Japan, for all of the participants of the conference where they raised money to help provide scholarships for DoD and international high school students pursuing degrees in engineering or related fields.
"Next year, when we do this again, we're going to add more to the program and hopefully bring even more people to the table," Warner said.