Savannah’s Downtown Business Association got a dose of politics and a look at how Gulfstream is working to grow work capacity in the community.
The dose of politics came from U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, a special guest at the group’s monthly meeting.
“It’s always good to be home,” Carter told the crowd over coffee and eggs at Soho South Cafe.
Carter told the audience his top priorities in Congress are healthcare, tax reform “which we haven’t had in this country in over 30 years”, secure borders, and infrastructure.
“Small businesses make up 90 percent of business in America,” Carter said, “So it’s important I hear from you.”
Marshall Tuck, a senior buyer and Small Business Program Administrator at Gulfstream Aerospace, brought home the message of the value of small business. Tuck was the keynote speaker.
“Because we’re in a global society and it’s a diverse society,” said Tuck, “we’ve developed ways to communicate and work with all ethnicities. We want to look at ways to work with our community and our employees.”
Gulfstream has been in Savannah since 1967 and today has more than 10,000 employees and a presence in six continents.
In order to build a better workforce and community, Tuck said, the community needs to look at ways to champion our diversity.
“People will grow to their potential if you give them the resources and the opportunity,” explained Tuck. “Gulfstream has taken small businesses who do well, and we’ve hired them as suppliers, and helped them grow their businesses so they become millionaires.”
For instance, Gulfstream gave business to Quantum Inc., the Coastal Center for Development Services, a company that builds technology for aircrafts.
“We’re touchy about quality at Gulfstream. Quantum demonstrated they could put quality technology in our aircrafts. They went a little bit further and developed a catering service. We helped them grow to have five different in-house departments,” Tuck said.
Tuck continued that Gulfstream created jobs at Quantum, where 20 people are now building Gulfstream parts.
It’s important to support employees and community members to be independent and educated.
“It’s good for the community to ensure suppliers are diverse. You want to make a better living and working environment for folks in Savannah. And you want to keep the money in Savannah,” he explained.
Gulfstream also works with G-Force Aerospace Technologies, which originally worked out of the back of the Goodwill of Coastal Empire.
“They did so well supplying Gulfstream that they moved out to Gulfstream’s property. They do an immaculate job,” said Tuck.
“We need to give local people and businesses the opportunity to excel, and they will,” Tuck said.
“If you’ve been in business over 20 years, you’ve probably seen a dramatic change in culture in the workforce in Savannah, such as the color of people’s hair, their wardrobe, sex, and eyes. Things are getting more diverse. Sometimes we hire folks and there’s a language barrier. It’s important to look at the untapped potential,” he said.
It’s important to make people employable because it alleviates a tax burden, said Tuck.
“As a taxpayer that’s a priority to me. Whatever we can do to help folks, whether its coaching little league or packing boxes at a food drive, we’re all helping and we’re all important,” he said. “It’s our community and it’s our commitment.”
Gulfstream has partnered with Savannah Tech to help train and connect graduates jobs. The company also supports veterans.
“Being a Marine Corps veteran, I’ve championed several veteran programs,” he said. “We have special efforts for recruiting veterans. Thirty percent of our workforce is veterans. We’re focused all the way around on vets, and are constantly trying to improve.”
Karen Guinn, president of SDBA, said “Savannah would not be the community we are today without Gulfstream.”
Rep. Carter added, “I agree with everything Marshall said. What a great company and what a great corporate citizen and what a leader. We are so blessed to have Gulfstream and I know Gulfstream is proud to be in Savannah, as Savannah gives Gulfstream a quality workforce. So it’s a very good relationship.”