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NEWS | June 30, 2022

Local-national Employee at Sagami Depot Considers Job as Engineer Technician ‘His Calling’

By Noriko Kudo U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs

SAGAMI GENERAL DEPOT, Japan -- Shunsuke Nakachi takes pride in his job keeping the infrastructure at Sagami General Depot running smoothly—so much so that he considers it his calling.

Nakachi has worked as engineer technician for U.S. Army Garrison Japan’s Directorate of Public Works Sagami Sub-Facilities Engineer for about three years, maintaining and controlling utilities such as electricity, water, sewage and air conditioning on the depot, located approximately eight miles from Camp Zama.

When COVID-19 forced many employees on U.S. military installations to have to work from home, Nakachi was part of the group classified as “essential workers” who continued to go to work at their offices. Being on site at the depot was necessary for Nakachi and his team to kept provide seamless infrastructure services for the installation.

“It makes me very proud knowing that our team manages all the infrastructure for the Soldiers and employees on the installation to be able to operate their mission daily, even under critical situations,” Nakachi said.

Nakachi was born and raised on Okinawa, but his goal had always been to work in the Kanto, or mainland, area of Japan. The country was going through a recession during the time when he was in college, so Nakachi took a break from school in his junior year. He went to Australia on a working holiday program and spent two years there working at restaurants and on farms while learning English.

After returning to Japan and graduating from college, Nakachi began working as site manager at Kadena Air Base on Okinawa while continuing to look for job opportunities in the Kanto area.

When he was eventually hired in his current position, Nakachi said he felt he had finally landed his dream job—doing what he wanted, where he wanted.

“To this day, I don’t think I will ever be able to find a more perfect job than this,” Nakachi said. “It allows me to perfectly apply all of my experiences, knowledge and language skills from my previous job, and it allows me to live and work in the area I wanted.”

Kenneth Estabrook, Nakachi’s former supervisor and the person who hired him, said he needed someone who could help coordinate his production team in order to meet mission requirements. One of Nakachi’s primary roles is ensuring that his director’s instructions and intent are precisely translated for the predominantly Japanese-speaking workforce. He also helps to bridge the gap between the American and Japanese ways of communication.

“No director is complete without a reliable No. 1 who can coordinate and communicate program management between the director and staff,” Estabrook said. “Mr. Nakachi is the right person doing the right job.”

Nakachi’s previous experience working as a project manager for a contract company that did a lot of business with the U.S. military exposed him to the American way of doing business in the public works industry. This helped him develop the skills that are critical to the DPW’s success at Sagami Depot, Estabrook said.

“Together we were a great team,” Estabrook said. “Sagami Depot is a better place because [Nakachi] was able to help me connect to the local-national workforce.”

Timothy Seifert, the current Sagami Sub-Facilities Engineer chief, said Nakachi handles a broad range of assignments and oversees a team of nine local-national employees and their operations. This includes handling the customer service center, work order processing, in-house engineering design, and the supply chain.

“In reality, he is my deputy, and in my absence he acts on my behalf for all aspects of [the] SSFE,” Seifert said. “He is familiar and capable with all our operations.”

Nakachi takes on every tasking with a driving passion to succeed and regularly exceeds every expectation, Seifert said.

“His knowledge, skills and abilities in the engineering field, coupled with his interpersonal and supervisory skills, are a perfect fit for his position,” he said. “It is a great relief to have Mr. Nakachi working as my lead MLC supervisor.”

“I welcome challenges and enjoy learning new things as I go,” Nakachi said. “I consider myself very lucky to be given real, hands-on training opportunities to broaden my knowledge and experience in those types of situations.”

Nakachi said personnel who work on the depot might not notice the hard work he and his team do to keep the depot running smoothly.

“But the minute the electricity, air conditioning or water stops working, the phone starts ringing,” he said. “‘We don’t know’ is definitely not an option in that situation, so we sometimes have to troubleshoot to figure out the issue.”

Nakachi said some people often take infrastructure operations for granted, but they “definitely do not happen by magic.”

“Somebody is constantly working behind the scenes to provide seamless service for the Army to be able to focus on its mission and for employees to be able to support that mission,” he said. “I hope everyone can stop for a moment and think about how they are able to work and live comfortably every day because there is somebody who is working continuously to make it happen.”
 

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