We Are Mission Success: Richard Dumas and Samuel Sturkie
Take 5 minutes and learn about CNS’s Richard Dumas (left) and Samuel Sturkie (right), Pantex production technicians. All views and opinions are the employees’ own and do not necessarily reflect those of CNS.
The Pantex Production Optimization (PPO) effort was commissioned to lead and establish a path forward to deliver and maximize our production throughout this year and into the future. Since its launch, the PPO team has made significant progress in tackling actions to maximize the current weapons workload deliverables. In a recent CNS Connect from Chief Operating Officer Colby Yeary, he said, “We’ve gone from having significant concerns regarding our ability to deliver to reinstating customer confidence and demonstrating that our processes will help us continue to deliver in the future.”
A large part of the progress is attributed to the work of the production technicians, the employees who do the actual hands-on work to ensure the nuclear deterrent is safe, secure, and effective. Production technicians have a wide variety of responsibilities, including assembling/disassembling nuclear weapons, testing components associated with the stockpile, keeping accurate records, operating equipment, performing repairs, and more. Pantex has made it a priority to hire more than 200 PTs by fall 2022 to improve production output and deliver planned future weapons work.
Samuel Sturkie and Richard Dumas are two production technicians representing opposite ends of the nuclear security experience spectrum. Sturkie has worked with Pantex for 16 years, while Dumas is relatively new to Pantex with 18 months of experience serving as a production technician. Prior to employment with Pantex, Sturkie was a machine operator at a local Amarillo container board facility. Dumas had spent a couple years working on the road building gas plants, and many years managing a local family-owned BBQ restaurant in Amarillo. Both provide a unique perspective to what it means to be a Pantexan and be part of the PPO efforts.
What daily task lets you know you’re helping achieve the CNS mission?
Dumas: I think a great thing is getting to meet some of the pilots that use the things we create here at Pantex and see that they are excited about what we are accomplishing here. They come in and thank us, when we should be thanking them for putting their lives at risk by doing what they are doing. We get to go home every day and spend time with friends and family. I believe all service members past and present need to be thanked.
Sturkie: I would say stand up/stand down is the greatest indicator. It’s like a real-time report of how all the pieces are fitting together and what page everybody is on.
As an employee, what do you want to be remembered for?
Dumas: I wouldn’t really say that I want to be remembered for anything specific; I believe that if you come to work and put forth your best effort and teamwork that it will show on its own when you are gone.
Sturkie: Probably my packaging skills. I want someone to look at a MKQ (Mark Quality) part and say, “the guy who packaged this part really cared.”
Are you doing what you envisioned as a young adult?
Dumas: I never imagined I would have an opportunity to work here at Pantex, but things work in mysterious ways. And hope that I can make it another 20 years and retire here in Amarillo.
Sturkie: Yes, ever since I wrote a research paper on nuclear winter in high school, I became interested in doing something in the nuclear field. My dad worked at Pantex for almost 30 years, so growing up I always wanted to work at the place that my dad worked.
What work advice would you offer someone who is new to Pantex?
Dumas: I would say be patient. You aren’t going to know and pick up everything the second you walk in the door. And for new PTs, trust in your team as in your trainers. Senior PTs, trust your core team guys. Most of these guys have been here a while and are very knowledgeable about what we are doing; if you have questions ask them. This is probably a very different job than what a lot of us came from, and it takes some adjusting. But these guys are very helpful at helping you when needed.
Sturkie: If you have a new idea or a different way of doing things, don’t be shy; bring it up.
What’s your favorite outside-of-work activity and why?
Dumas: I enjoy golfing, cooking, and traveling. These are all things that make me happy. Golf for the outside fresh air, cooking for an inside or out (BBQ), and traveling get to see a lot of history all over.
Sturkie: I would have to say playing video games. They help me relax and recharge my batteries, so I can come back to work refreshed.