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People: PNNL Lends a Helping Hand, and an Experienced Project Manager

Greg Herman with the online version of his hometown paper, the Tri-City Herald, on the monitor behind him. (Photo by Lori White.)

Greg Herman, project director for the Research Support Building Infrastructure and Modernization Project, may feel right at home at SLAC, but he's the first to admit he's a bit of a fish out of water in the Bay Area. Or maybe a fish out of the desert, since Herman is on loan from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, located in the high sagebrush desert of southeastern Washington, where he's lived for 23 years.

"Growing up in the Tri-Cities [Pasco, Richland and Kennewick] and coming down here—it's like a different world," he said. Contemplating Herman's early upbringing, a city dweller might want to echo the sentiment. Born in South Dakota, Herman was five years old when his family moved to the small town of Zillah, Washington, home of the Church of God-Zillah and the Teapot Dome Service Station. When Herman was 15, the family moved again to the Tri-Cities, the largest population center he's ever called home. But the Tri-Cities were no hotbed of cosmopolitan living. "Where I live now used to be the orchard I hung out in [as a teenager]," he said.

Don't let Herman's good-natured small town stories fool you. He's an experienced project manager who just wrapped up construction of two new facilities and the renovation of three buildings at PNNL. When Herman came to SLAC last February to participate in a project review, Mark Reichanadter, deputy associate lab director for operations, recognized Herman had the right skills and background to lead the RSB project through its initial stages.

"His leadership qualities are outstanding," said Reichanadter, "and he brings a good team spirit to the organization." Plus, with Herman's experience on Department of Energy projects, "Bringing him in was instant credibility with the DOE," according to Reichanadter. "In addition, Greg's mentoring of SLAC project managers in delivering large capital projects at SLAC is a definite long-term win for the lab, and we owe our thanks to Greg and to the close partnership we enjoy with PNNL."

The situation has had its advantages for Herman, as well. "[The Bay Area] is a beautiful area," Herman said. In addition, "the variety of people here is huge—it's kinda neat." Herman has managed to bring his wife and three kids to the area on a few weekends for sight-seeing trips. He jokes about his wife and daughter making a beeline for Santana Row, and how impressed he was by the Winchester Mystery House. "Being a Facilities guy, I just wanted to leave the group and wander around," he said.

But it's the commonalities between SLAC and home that strike him the most. "I like the people here at SLAC," Herman said. "They're hard-working people—they all want to do good."

Herman is committed to shepherding the RSB project along at least through November, despite a grueling commute schedule. Herman's family remains in the Pacific Northwest, and in his time at SLAC he's missed birthdays, anniversaries and his wife's fund-raising events. But come November, "If there's no one ready to take over, I'm not going to leave," he said.

Perhaps that's because feeling at home, for Greg Herman, is more a question of what he's accomplishing than where he is. "I've always seen myself as a fix-it guy," he said. "That's what really interests me. Like a farm. You see what needs to be fixed and you fix it."

That's an attitude that serves Herman very well at SLAC. It seems some fish do fine in any climate.

—Lori Ann White
SLAC Today, August 25, 2010