Martin named BPW General Manager

As a 20-year old, Orangeburg native Will Martin started working at the Bamberg Board of Public Works in the warehouse doing inventory, sweeping floors, pulling calls, reading meters and working in various other departments at the utility company. After being named acting manager on November 1, 2011, Martin was hired on November 18 as the new manager of the BPW.

In an interview Thursday morning in his new office, Martin said he saw his being hired as the new manager of the BPW as “my time to put my stamp on the BPW.” “Not taking away anything from what Mr. Ellis (Bruce Ellis) has done, but to take that ownership,” Martin said, adding “and for the employees to have a sense of ownership as well and move forward.”

In fact, Martin said he thanked Bruce Ellis, who retired from the BPW in November after 30 years as general manager for “putting him under his wings” and giving him a “good foundation” to work from by putting him out with different crews. “That helped a lot,” Martin said noting that because he had worked in the field the other workers saw him not as a “stranger” but as one of them when he moved into administration.

Martin, who started work at the BPW in 1986, was born in Orangeburg and attended the public schools in Orangeburg through 7th grade before graduating from Denmark Olar High School in 1983. He attended Orangeburg Technical College for two years, majoring in computer data processing and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in management from Voorhees College in 1995, has an A license in water and waste water treatment and served as water and waste water treatment plant operator in his progression to manager.

Martin noted that one of the toughest jobs he has as manager of the BPW which he described as a “relatively small” utility company is competing for resources with much larger utility companies for manpower, personnel as well as grants. As an example, for an electrical lineman, Martin said the BPW has to be “competitive” for pay against companies like: SCE&G, Edisto Electric Cooperative and Orangeburg DPU. “They’re looking at the same skill sets needed by the BPW.”

To keep the BPW utility rates (which at one time were the lowest in the state) but are now “about average” competitive, Martin said over the last few years the company has taken action to streamline personnel “as much as possible” to keep overhead down and reduced insurance cost, health insurance, workman’s comprehension and liability. “We just have to constantly keep an eye on where we are, look to the future and see what expenditures may be coming down the road and plan accordingly.”

As for immediate goals, Martin noted the BPW is working on “several projects” including working to get the employees more involved in establishing a strategic plan for the board. He noted that being a small utility company they have to make sure the utility rates don’t out strip their usefulness. “If our rates get too high, we won’t be doing a benefit to the public.” Martin said another goal of the company is to continue working with the city of Bamberg whose citizens he noted were “our primary customer base” and Bamberg County. “We do need to be a good citizen of the city of Bamberg.”

As for the proposed countywide water and waste water system Martin said he “did not have an issue” with the regional water and waste water system, but he thought there may be a “difference in opinion” as to how it may be “structured. “It’s something everybody needs to get together and talk about.”

As an example of “putting his stamp” on the BPW, the company has adopted a new slogan: “On the SPOT” with the acronym “SPOT” meaning: S=Safety for ourselves and our customers at large, P=Professionalism in working with our customers, O=Being cognizant of our outward appearance in the public and T=Teamwork in working for the BPW.