by Ryan Labadens, NCBC Public Affairs
Providing quality housing for U.S. military members and their families is a subject that’s been in the media spotlight recently, and it’s a subject that Steven Chadwick, the new facilities manager for Balfour Beatty Communities at Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) Gulfport, cares about deeply.
Chadwick, who is originally from Adelaide, Australia, got his first exposure to maintenance-, construction- and facilities-related career fields when he decided to join the Royal Australian Navy in 1981, the day after his 16th birthday.
“It was a junior recruit program that they had back then, so they sent me to a naval academy to finish up high school there, where they were offering training in different roles,” said Chadwick, who decided to pursue the trade career path learning electronics and marine engineering.
Chadwick served in the Royal Australian Navy for a total of eight years, including his two years in the reserves, performing maintenance on various ships’ heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, propulsion systems, steam and gas turbines, water filtration systems and various other mechanical equipment.
While in the military, Chadwick had the opportunity to volunteer to help with inspecting housing units for Australian military service members.
“I got involved with community housing, or tenant-managed government housing, in Australia,” said Chadwick, who originally became interested in it to help out a few military friends who were looking for affordable housing. “I went with the housing inspectors initially so I could understand what they were looking for and what they didn’t want to see, and then I started doing it myself and just got deeply involved in the inspection side of things.”
After leaving the Navy, Chadwick worked at various mechanic and construction jobs before he eventually became interested in the management side of the construction industry. He figured this might be a good career path for him down the road, so he decided to get his degrees in Construction Management and Construction Economics, which he received from the University of Southern Australia in 2000.
He worked as a project manager for several companies on Australian and U.S. military construction projects related to building barracks, sports facilities, runway extensions and even an Australian submarine-construction facility, just to name a few.
In 2012, Chadwick decided to travel the United State since it was one of the few places he hadn’t gotten around to visiting yet. His said his parents are originally from Britain, so as a teenager he had traveled with them there and to Europe a few times, plus to South Africa, New Zealand and several countries in South Asia when he was in the Australian Navy.
He and a couple of his sons traveled across country in an RV from Los Angeles to New York in about a month’s time, stopping at various places along the way. He eventually decided to stay in the U.S. and started flipping homes with an old friend of his in Kansas. During that time he eventually met and married his current wife and moved down to live with her in Florida.
While there, he began working in housing maintenance for several resorts and other businesses, getting promoted to supervisory and managing roles before eventually moving to the Gulf Coast and taking on the BBC facilities manager position here at NCBC Gulfport in May 2019.
His main responsibilities here involve dealing with contractors and performing quality control to ensure that the work they do and materials they use to maintain and repair the homes serviced by Balfour Beatty are up to the standards required by BBC and the Department of the Navy. Part of this involves identifying what issues need to be addressed in the homes, such as appliances that need to be repaired or flooring that may need to be replaced, and ensuring that everything in the homes have been fixed correctly.
BBC currently services 477 homes onboard NCBC Gulfport, in addition to the 60 homes in Northpoint Preserve and the 24 homes in Slidell, La., which are occupied by Navy military members working at the John C. Stennis Space Center, Miss.
Having been in the Australian military and working alongside U.S. military members himself while he was in the service, Chadwick noted how important his position was to him and how he strives to provide military members and their families with excellent service so they can have good homes to live in.
“I’ve got to say that from my perspective it’s a career of choice,” said Chadwick. “I really enjoy it… the interaction with the tenants and just helping people out and seeing a finished product that’s of good quality.”