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Smith named Nashville District Employee of the Month for November 2019

Nashville District Public Affairs
Published Jan. 2, 2020
USACE Photo by Brian Brewer

Matthew (Craig) Smith, a maintenance mechanic at Pickwick Lock, is the Nashville District Employee of the Month for November 2019.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Dec. 31, 2019) – Matthew (Craig) Smith, a maintenance mechanic at Pickwick Lock, is the Nashville District Employee of the Month for November 2019. 

Smith is recognized for his significant contributions to the Pickwick Lock maintenance team for working above and beyond his required duties while acting as a collateral duty Safety Officer.  Recently while making critical repairs at the lock, Smith created and installed a device that cleans grease from the cables on the tow haulage unit. This was done on one of the coldest days of the year in knee-deep water at Pickwick Lock.

As for being selected employee of the month, Smith said he is humbled by the honor.

“I am humbled and appreciate being recognized as employee of the month,” said Smith. “It is a good feeling that people have noticed my efforts and accomplishments.

According to Brian Brewer, assistant operations manager for the Middle Tennessee River Office, Pickwick and other locks have had issues with grease build up on the haulage unit cable as it passes through the return pipe. During the winter as the grease expands due to the cold weather, the haulage unit sometimes becomes unable to operate properly.

“He came up with a simple, yet amazingly efficient device that fixes the problem,” said Brewer.  “Created the device from Polyvinyl Chloride Pipe (PVC) and wire brushes.

Brewer said it fits over the cable at each end of the Lock and the brushes remove the grease build up as it passes through on the outside instead of the inside of the pipe. Over time this will help clean the pipe out which should help prevent any delays.

Brewer said Smith’s knowledge and experience is invaluable and this project saves USACE thousands of dollars in maintenance time and hundreds of man-hours.

Smith, came to the Pickwick Lock in 2016 after working as a member of the Nashville District Repair Fleet since 2008.  He is a native of Florence, and said he loves working with the maintenance team at Pickwick Lock.

Smith said he was surprised by the recognition and it makes him feel great to know his co-workers noticed his work and appreciate his contributions to the team.  

“I really enjoy my job because of the diversity to do something different every day,” said Smith.  "Ever since my days on the repair party, doing whatever needs to be done makes good sense.”

Brewer said Smith is most deserving for this award because of the extra effort he puts forth in his job and how he takes care of anything and everything at Pickwick.

“He is always working to help make this facility better and more efficient to help cut down delays and outages,” said Brewer.

Brewer said Smith manages a flexible and sometimes heavy work load due to unforeseen circumstances and routinely demonstrates excellent responsiveness and efficiency in making repairs.

Brewer commended Smith for his sacrifices to the Pickwick team.  He said in past Smith has canceled engagements with his family to work on weekends or at night when he was called.  The flood of February 2019 is a great example.

“He is an invaluable asset to our team,” said Randy Boyd, a co-worker and Senior Lock Operator at Pickwick Lock.  “He is self-motivated, a self-starter, resourceful and routinely applies his creative knowledge in solving tasks,” said Boyd.  “He is highly respected among peers for his maintenance skills and support and is always a boost to our team morale.”

Lt. Col. Sonny B. Avichal, Nashville District commander, said Smith’s professionalism, attention to detail and knowledge make him a model for others to emulate around the district.  Avichal said Smiths’ work ethic, initiative, team player mentality makes him a valuable asset to the Pickwick Lock team, the Nashville District and USACE.

“I enjoy my job and I like working with my hands,” said Smith.  “I’ve had the opportunity to work with some great minds around the district and these people love what they do, which makes my job a whole lot easier. I just want to continue to provide them with the tools they need and get the job done right.”

In Smith's off-duty time, he enjoys spending time with his wife Deanna and daughter, Paisley, 4.   He loves fishing, hunting, and farming. 
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