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GSSC's 2019 Annual Conference featured high profile keynotes and powerful sessions related to employee engagement and the employee experience.  From building a winning engagement strategy, to onboarding, to managing multiple generations in the workplace, attendees left with actionable strategies and tools to drive employee engagement and improve the employee experience.   

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GSSC's 12th Annual Conference was held April 9-10, 2019, at the Margaritaville Beach Hotel in Pensacola, FL.

According to a recent Gallup poll, just 33% of employees working in the United States are engaged at work. In fact, an engaged workforce has been proven to increase productivity and profitability, improve customer service and brand loyalty, and lower attrition. With this in mind, GSSC's 2019 Conference topics featured keynotes and sessions centered around different aspects of employee engagement.

Highlights - Day 1

  • Allan Steinmetz with Inward Consulting set the stage for the conference with his opening keynote, What's the Big Deal About Employee Engagement.  During his remarks, Steinmetz gave an overview of what employee engagement is, the implications for manufacturing companies,  and what steps employers can take to improve employee engagement.

  • Onboarding was the focus of the session presented by Shirley Adams, president of Adams & Associates LLC.  After exploring the differences between orientation and onboarding, Adams provided actionable strategies for creating an effective onboarding program to engage employees, reduce turnover, and integrate them into a company’s culture.

  • Reverse Mentoring: An Engagement Tool was presented by Sherry Joubert, Project Manager, Ingalls Shipbuilding, and explored mentoring as a tool to engage workers from a generational perspective.  Focusing primarily on paring younger, junior employees with older, senior employees, Sherry also introduced the concept of reciprocal mentoring, where both participants in the mentoring relationship mentor each other.

  • In the Industry News and Opportunities:  Recruiting Resources for Future Shipbuilders session, Dr. Kit Nast, Psychology Instructor, Bishop State Community College showcased, a website that can be used to engage students in shipbuilding-related content to help increase student awareness related to careers in the field and to assist with recruitment. 

  • Audrey Kennedy, Program Manager, NMEC, and Patty Bird, Sr. Workforce Development Manager, NCCER introduced the group to a one-year, recently funded project to develop a national career awareness, image enhancement, and recruitment platform for the shipbuilding and ship repair industry to address the critical workforce challenges while building the next generation of craft professionals.  The session included a walkthrough of NCCER's premier career awareness platform, Build Your Future (BYF)

  • Florida's SkillsUSA State Leadership and Skills Conference hosted a a tour to see SkillsUSA contestants in action. 

  • Attendees enjoyed a networking dinner at The Grand Marlin that evening.


Highlights - Day 2

  • The lawn care business is not much different than shipbuilding when it comes to the work environment.  Sid Sexton, President, Sexton Lawn and Landscape, shared his engagement story in his session, Creating Significance: How to Sell Young People on Hard Work and Keep Them.  Attendees learned how Sid's lawn care company evolved into a thriving business by investing in his people.  From onboarding, to mentoring, to creating leaders, attendees left the session with valuable, actionable takeaways to engage employees while reducing attrition, improving brand loyalty, and development the leaders needed to grow a business.

  • Brian Lansing, Generations Expert and Founder of Mic Drop Entertainment looked at workplace communication from a generational perspective in his presentation, Double Click - Learning to Communicate across Generations. Brian explored what shapes each generation's unique characteristics and strategies for working through some of the common "sticking points" encountered when working with a multi-generational workforce.

  • In her session Building a Winning Engagement Strategy, Sam Angermeier, Staffing Analyst, HKA Staffing, attendees learning winning and sustainable engagement strategies to help them redefine the way they think about work and understanding the various motivations behind engagement. 

  • Eli Pagonis, founder and CEO of The Power of E4, wrapped up the two-day conference with this motivational closing keynote, Each Moment Counts.


Plenty of networking opportunities and an Exhibitor Expo rounded out the two-day event. 

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2019 Navigator Award Presentation


Tony Hopper, 2019 GSSC Navigator Award Recipient

GSSC's 2019 Navigator award was presented to Tony Hopper, Project Manager for the AIDT Maritime Training Center in Mobile.  The Navigator Award is presented annually to an individual who has displayed outstanding leadership or made other significant contributions to the development of the maritime workforce.


GSSC president, Jeff Allman, said of this year's recipient, "We at GSSC are thankful for Tony's contributions preparing individuals for career opportunities in the shipbuilding industry.  His service to others is an inspiration to all of us." Former GSSC president, Byron Dunn, had this to say about Tony, "Tony has been a long-time champion of and cheerleader for GSSC and helped forge the workforce development methodologies in our region and industry through dedicated and innovative work. He has listened to the voice of our shipbuilders and ship repair yards and led the way to provide highly qualified entry-level workers." 


Congratulations, Tony, on this well deserved award!  Your dedication and service to the industry and to the support of GSSC are appreciated.

Thanks to our Sponsors!

GSSC's annual conference would not be possible without the support of our sponsors.

Platinum Sponsors

Silver Sponsor

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