The People Powering OSI

There’s a lot of interesting stories about Radford and Holston that you may hear from generations of families who have worked here or in the history books. Since World War II, these sites have been a heartbeat in the defense industrial base.

A lot has changed and remained the same. There is the same dedication to the mission, but also modernization to support the cutting edge for our women and men in uniform. Let’s meet some of the experts supporting these iconic sites.

 

Spotlight on Raymond Bowers

HMX Team Leader at BAE Systems OSI
 
Raymond Bowers, HMX Team Leader at BAE Systems OSI

One Man. Almost 40 Years of Dedication and Leadership.

 
Raymond Bowers will soon round the corner on four decades of service at the Holston Army Ammunition Plant, a dedicated career that today could be considered a rarity.

“I am blessed to have had the opportunity to work here and stay this long...  I have witnessed a lot of change,” noted Raymond. “But our work at Holston is different and our attitude is different. You are given an assignment and you get your job done.”

Since starting at Holston nearly 39 years ago, Raymond has served in three different departments, from cleanup to production, before coming into his current role as HMX Team Leader, a position he has held for the past 13 years. Today, Raymond is responsible for all HMX-based products produced at the plant, including overseeing the product team and ensuring results are cost effective and on time. Raymond is also responsible for ensuring his team is safe and practicing safe processes.

“In my area we practice two-person verification, what we call take two. We always have two people review a task and verify that nothing is in our way or would be the source of an unsafe process,” says Raymond. “If you are not safe, you cannot work. We make sure we have four eyes on our processes at all times.”

Raymond continues to coach his team on the importance of safety. Most recently, BAE Systems started working with safety consulting firm DEKRA, a global leader in workplace safety, to enhance safety efforts and procedures at Holston. DEKRA’s Executive Leading with Safety program is designed to help enhance safety leadership knowledge and skills for upper-level managers and directors at Holston.

“DEKRA training is both a teaching tool and learning experience. It ensures we are properly training our staff, checking on employees, making sure they have what they need such as proper PPE, and offering positive feedback when we see the team making good safety decisions.”

As part of the DEKRA training at Holston, team leaders create a safety slogan. Raymond lives by his safety slogan: “Good Work Behaviors. Good Work Habits. Good Attitudes. One Heartbeat.” For Raymond this means the team is working safely together and with a positive attitude.

“The most rewarding aspect of my role is seeing my guys being successful. But we work together no matter what. We win as a team, and we fail as a team,” he states.

As Raymond reflects on his many years at Holston, a rewarding career that spans nearly four decades: “My career has been good to me, good to my family and good to the community. Before the pandemic, we did a lot of community work and we hope to get back there. We’ve also done a lot with diversity and inclusion, ensuring we are representing and including different groups of people to make the right decisions for our community.”

Looking ahead, Raymond hopes to continue coaching the next generation of Holston staff to continue making ammunition for U.S. war fighters, an essential responsibility that helps to ensure the safety of our country.
 

Spotlight on Jacob Morris

R&D Manager at BAE Systems OSI
 
Jacob Morris, R&D Manager at BAE Systems OSI

 

Responding With Innovation and Agility

 
Jacob Morris and his team at the Holston Army Ammunition Plant are always on the lookout for an innovative solution to develop next generation energetics to continue keeping staff and soldiers safe.
 
“The type of work we do in R&D is always changing. We have the opportunity to tackle a lot of really difficult projects, but we get to see the fruits of that labor as we bring these ideas to manufacturing and to market,” said Morris.

Morris, who holds a doctorate of chemistry from the University of Notre Dame, is responsible for overseeing the development of new energetic materials that are safer for BAE Systems employees, warfighters and the surrounding community. Their goal is to look at existing products to ensure customer expectations are met and exceeded, and to continue to innovate. This includes making materials with higher explosive performance, but with the same safety standards of IMX-101 and IMX-104.

The team earned both industry and national acclaim for developing IMX 101, the first in a family of “Insensitive Munitions” that provide stability in transport and handling for troops, and the product was named a TIME magazine Invention of the Year. This achievement is only the beginning.
 
“One of the challenges with historical explosive materials is that they are sensitive to a number of stimuli such as fire, explosive shock, bullet and fragment impact. Throughout the last decade, we have aimed to create explosives that do not react to these lethal stimuli. We are working to develop more, safer next generation materials,” noted Morris.
 
It’s this innovative spirit that allows the team to respond quickly to challenges. Case in point, the COVID-19 pandemic. Early on in the pandemic, hand sanitizer was quickly in short demand. However, BAE Systems staff needed to continue working onsite at plants across the country. Thanks to the extensive chemistry skillset of the Holston R&D team, the team discovered they could produce hand sanitizer themselves.
 
“A seed of an idea went to production within two weeks,” explains Morris. “What surprised me was how quickly we were able to transition from concept to a few thousand bottles. Our team’s mentality has always been of working to protect others as we develop safer explosives for the warfighter. We approached this project with the same mentality. Our team put in an incredible amount of work to make this happen quickly so we could protect employees not just at OSI, but across the company.”
 
Due to the limited supply chain for normal bottles during the onset of the pandemic, the team found a creative solution in the use of honey bear bottles to hold the hand sanitizer, and worked to ensure it metFDA and WHO guidelines. While it was an unexpected start to 2020, it demonstrated the team’s ability to be innovative, agile and remain hyper focused on safety. The team produced 11,000 bottles of hand sanitizer, and distributed the bottles to 41 BAE Systems locations.
 
“Day-to-day the most rewarding aspect of my job is seeing all the great things my team accomplishes as they design innovative new products and bring those products to market. For our team, we’ve had a lot of great success developing safer energetics throughout the last decade but we remain curious and determined to develop that next great explosive to serve the needs of the warfighter.”

 

Spotlight on Sarah Gayle Early

Safety and Occupational Health Manager at BAE Systems OSI
 
Sarah Gayle Early, Safety and Occupational Health Manager at BAE Systems OSI
 

Building and Being a Trusted Safety Resource

 
When Sarah Gayle Early arrives at work every morning, she expects the unexpected. The team at the Radford Army Ammunition Plant does its best to plan ahead, aiming to be proactive instead of reactive, but there is always the opportunity to solve new challenges. This is what pushes Early to bring her whole self to work every day.
 
“To me, bringing my whole self to Radford means ensuring I’m entirely focused on what’s in front of me that day. There are many moving parts within the safety program,” said Early. “If an employee comes in to ask a question, with a concern or is suffering from an injury, I want them to feel like they have my full attention.”
 
Early, who currently serves as Safety and Occupational Health Manager at Radford, understands what it means to prioritize safety. In her current role, Early manages four key areas, including the wellness program, industrial hygiene, the on-site medical clinic as well as long-term planning to improve and implement safety strategies. While some of her responsibilities have been placed on hold due to COVID-19, others have become priorities.
 
"Safety is critical because we need our staff to be safe so they are able to do their job. Otherwise, we can’t make our product. If we are not offering a safe and trusting environment for the staff, we can’t get our job done,” noted Early.
 
Having served in the United States Army Reserves for 15 years (five on active duty), Early is a First Sergeant of the 343rd Medical Ground Ambulance Company and is a 2019 Honor Graduate and on the Commandant’s List for the Army Master Leadership Course. Early holds a master of public health from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, as well as a bachelor of science in public health education and promotion from Radford University.
 
Early has received one Meritorious Service Medal, four Army Commendation Medals and 11 Army Achievement Medals. A certified EMT and personal trainer, she is an instructor for several programs including the U.S. Army Suicide Prevent and Assistant Training, U.S. Army Sexual Harassment and Response Prevent Instruction, and U.S. Army Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. She was also recently featured in the The Roanoker’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2021.
 
In her role at Radford, the most rewarding aspect for Early is the opportunity to build trusting relationships. This continues to be her goal, as she aims to ensure the safety program is a trusted resource for all the staff.

“We are directed a lot of questions and we want to continue to be a trusted resource for staff, to ensure individuals can come to us and they can raise concerns,” Early shares. “Additionally, when someone does show up to our clinic with an injury, our goal is to provide the best care possible and to be there for them.”
 
Early also looks ahead to long-term goals, which includes creating and implementing systems and processes that will future-proof Radford and will outlive her position.
 
Early’s dedication to maintaining a safe and trusted environment at Radford helps to push forward its innovation and productivity.