David Boone, P.E., Chief Growth Officer and Retired Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps
Federal clients have been at the center of Michael Baker International’s work for nearly 80 years. Chief Growth Officer David Boone shares why they are such an important focal point and how our Company serves them – now and into the future.
How do you describe Michael Baker’s approach to federal work?
We serve those who serve, meaning that we have a deep understanding and passion for supporting our federal clients to fulfill their mission. Many of us at Michael Baker who served in the military know what it is like when you are the person or part of a unit that is operating forward – in the military we call that the tip of the spear – and you are confronted with the enemy or a disaster or whatever the mission is. It is often very lonely out there because it is all on you to make it happen, and it is crucial to receive the right level of support. Having been out there at the tip of the spear, we recognize the importance of that support that enables mission accomplishment. I am very proud that our Company serves in that capacity and has done so for nearly 80 years.
What differentiates Michael Baker from others serving in the federal space?
One of our differentiators is that we are an integrator. We can do it all for our clients. We have a very broad and deep spectrum of capabilities and skill sets. We are “cradle to grave” for anything that a client needs – planning, design, construction, design-build, environmental management, etc.
Another distinction for Michael Baker is that we do a variety of work for clients in both public and private sectors, so we bring innovative ideas across public-private sector boundaries. We advance the best of breed in our solutions and approaches – for example, Connected and Automated Vehicles could become a new capability on military bases brought from the private sector – so we are able to capitalize on the best ideas across our enterprise, where many companies are siloed in either the federal or private sector.
What new areas of focus is Michael Baker concentrating on to serve more federal agencies?
Our primary focus within the federal market is to pursue work that supports “critical mission requirements.” Every federal agency has functions that are critical to its mission and that is the work we want because that is what our federal clients value most and where the most resources will be dedicated. We have many examples where we have directly supported these kinds of missions, from the SEAL compound in San Diego, to new hangars for next-generation aircraft, to our disaster support work with FEMA.
Another focus area is disaster management, including resiliency planning and disaster response and recovery. With military bases in particular, the first question after a disaster is “What is the base’s readiness to operate? Can the base launch planes? Can the base deploy ships?” The base has to immediately recover and still achieve its mission in the defense of our country. We at Michael Baker play a role in the recovery effort and we are seeing it play a role in the recovery effort and we are seeing it play out in real time as we are involved in rebuilding Tyndall Air Force Base, Camp Lejeune and Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake after each was damaged during a natural disaster.
A third area of focus is something called “total ownership cost” – all the costs it takes to be an owner of infrastructure. Since our business is about engineering and construction, we are usually involved in a client’s capital investment accounts. However, a client not only thinks about the capital accounts, they also think about impacts of new construction to maintenance costs, operation costs, utility costs, and environmental and sustainability costs. Across the Company, not just in federal, part of our value proposition should be that we plan, design and construct thinking about optimizing the efficiency and effectiveness of our client’s total ownership cost.
What trends in federal work will define the next 5-10 years?
Department of Defense priorities, first and foremost, are always shaped by potential threats around the world, which are continuing to play out in the Pacific theater, where we are aggressively winning and pursuing work. Resiliency, disasters and climate change are areas that will shape our world and the federal market for the foreseeable future. An example of this impact that we are watching very closely is the melting of the Arctic Ice Cap, which enables sea travel over the Arctic Ocean but also creates a number of national security challenges. There is discussion in federal circles about building a military port facility on the west coast of Alaska to respond to this changing environment. We will also see more around our aging cities in the U.S. and work on rebuilding our infrastructure: roads, airports, bridges and utility infrastructure.
No matter the situation, we will continue to be a strong partner with our federal clients and stand ready to serve those who serve.
An important tool that Michael Baker International leverages for delivering services is our coast-to-coast network of eight Federal Centers of Excellence (FCOE), offices that are characterized by our employees’ deep federal experience and credentials. Michael Baker’s FCOEs ensure that our people with proven federal experience and the strongest track records of past performance on federal projects are maximized to deliver the best results for clients.
About David Boone
David Boone is the Chief Growth Officer of Michael Baker. He is responsible for leading the Company’s National Practices, Federal Markets and the Proposal Development Center. Boone’s distinguished career spans more than 36 years, including significant experience in military leadership positions. Most recently, he served as President of the Government Strategic Business Unit of APTIM, a firm that specializes in disaster response, environmental remediation and engineering and construction.
Previously, his Navy service included three years as U.S. Navy Director of Shore Readiness, retiring with the rank of Rear Admiral – Civil Engineer Corps. In this role, he directed resourcing and policy for 70 Navy installations worldwide with $182 billion plant replacement value, 122 airfields, 410 piers, 58,000 employees and a $9 billion annual budget.
His military career included a number of positions in command around the world and in expeditionary environments as varied as Djibouti, Africa, to the Arctic. A Seabee Combat Warfare officer, a government contracting officer and Navy Diving officer, Boone also provided engineer assessments for national emergent and crisis responses during Hurricane Mitch, Hurricane Katrina, the Fukushima earthquake/tidal wave and the Gulf War. From 2001 to 2003, he served as Director of Facilities at the White House and was responsible for the White House Shelter on 9/11.