City of residence: League City
Current title/place of business: Partner, IPS Pump Services; vice president of business development, Industrial Packing and Seals; major, Marine Corps Forces Pacific Command
Education: Bachelor of Arts – Government, New Mexico State University; Master of Maritime Business Administration and Logistics, Texas A&M University
Family: Natasha Alford, wife; Olivia Gail Alford, 3, daughter; Evelyn Marie Alford, 2, daughter; Taylor Madden Alford, 4 months, son
Professional responsibilities: As a partner in IPS Pump Services, I wear many hats. Most of my efforts are focused around business development, project management, and maintaining relationships with our petrochemical and maritime transport customers. We are a horizontally integrated petrochemical services company. Projects must be managed from engineering, to manufacturing of pumps, to the overseeing of the millwrights as they install and commission different critical pieces of rotating equipment on barges, and in pipelines, and chemical plants.
As the vice president of business development for Industrial Packing and Seals, my center of focus is on maintaining customer relationships, and constantly surveying the market to find new targets of opportunity to upgrade future customers with better servicing of their mechanical seal needs from lower costs, to faster turnarounds, to better construction materials.
As a major in the Marine Corps working for Marine Corps Forces Pacific Command, I am tasked with advising the commanding general on various matters concerning the nation’s military presence and priorities within the greater Indo-Pacific Combatant Command as they pertain to the United States Marine Corps as prescribed by the President’s National Defense Strategy, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Defense Planning Guidance, and the Commandant’s Planning Guidance from the Commandant of the Marine Corps.
Accomplishments/honors: I have been fortunate to have achieved the level of success I have obtained as a result of the support from my family and friends. If I had to answer what my greatest accomplishment would be, it would be that I have been able to experience the love and loyalty of my family, as well the friendships that I have maintained since the days we were all kids growing up in Clear Creek Independent School District. With regard to honors, my greatest honor has been to be able to lead Marines under my charge whether it be through villages and poppy fields in Afghanistan, or in strategic planning operations to better safeguard our nation’s future.
Community involvement: I was raised in a home in which service to the community was viewed as an understood obligation rather than a charitable act. We were taught that every member of the community has a responsibility to lift up others by their actions. Between family, military obligations and work, I rarely have enough time in the week to accomplish all that I wish to, but I make sure to prioritize attempting to be a positive example of a good husband, father and community member for my family. In the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, I found that the anxiety that was being felt throughout the community warranted an attempt to at least attempt to alleviate some it. Social media challenges have been all the rage these days, so I decided to begin my own. The premise was basic — find a simple philanthropic task each week to plan, look forward to and execute. I would then show evidence of my act, and post it to the Facebook community pages in Galveston and League City with the hopes that others might be inspired by my small acts, and take it upon themselves to carry out their own.
The first week was easy. I heard on the radio that the Texas Medical Center was short on blood because of reduction in donations as a result of the stay-at-home measures. I figured since I am a healthy human, and I’m already out on the roads every day as a result of conducting business, it wouldn’t be too much to sit down for 45 minutes and make a donation, so I did. I posted the small act on Facebook, and was incredibly surprised at the positive response, and was even more glad to hear of others following suit. The next week, I stopped by the local Dominos on Main Street in League City and told them that I’d like to purchase pizza, wings and salads for about 50 folks. When they found out it was for the League City Police Department, they absorbed half of the cost for the order. Again, I posted it to the community pages, and got to enjoy seeing what others were doing as well. The next week, I got word that a parade was being put together to celebrate the residents who had completed their 14-day quarantine after the community was hit with the terrible news that about 90 residents had tested positive for the virus in the assisted living community, The Resort, in Texas City. Not only was the parade a fun event, but it brought light to the medical successes of Dr. Robin Armstrong and his use of hydroxychloroquine in treating the virus.
For the next week, I wanted to bring in some of the young folks at Texas A&M University who I have the privilege of mentoring through a student organization I created called Maritime Business Aggies. The foundation of the organization is to assist in bridging the gap between academia and industry for students looking to enter into the maritime profession within our area. The pillars of the organization being professional development, networking, philanthropy and, of course, a good bit of fun, after all, they’re still college kids. Anyways, we got together and came up with a plan where I would sponsor them through IPS Pump Services to provide breakfast prepared by the San Luis Resort and delivered by them to the all of the staff within the various ICUs at UTMB. It was a great experience for them, and was appreciated by the UTMB staff that had been working so hard throughout the crisis. Some of the local publications even picked up on the good news story.
This last weekend, I decided to honor our police officers on National Police Officer Memorial Day. The holiday is on a Friday, which was also the first day of Jeep Week 2020. I figured the Galveston County Sheriff’s Department that was going to be dealing with the small minority of rowdy folks would certainly appreciate a nice breakfast to kick off their weekend, so I made sure to stock up on a lot of delicious pastries and coffee from Shipley’s on Broadway on the island. As usual, the response from the community has been great. Having now received about 2 million email requests from the blood bank over the last six weeks, I reckon I’ll appease them and send my goodwill that way this week.
Prior to the last few weeks that caused much of the world to stop as a result of the virus, I was active in many other community organizations. I am a member of the Association of the Chemical Industry of Texas’ Hospitality Committee in which I serve as one of the charity leaders. Through fundraising endeavors such as the Pasadena Livestock Show and Rodeo barbecue cook-off and the Houston Area Safety Council’s Tailgate Extravaganza, we are able to raise tens of thousands of dollars to benefit Camp Hope and their mission to support those undergoing treatments for PTSD within our military.
I am, of course, a member of the VFW nearest me in Dickinson.
I am active in the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership.
I regularly attend and participate in The Get Together initiatives in the local area.
I serve on the San Jacinto College Maritime Transportation Advisory Committee where I, along with others from within the maritime transport industry, provide guidance for curriculum creation within the San Jacinto College Maritime Campus to provide rudder steering for students on the path to careers within the maritime industry.
Why did you go into your particular field?
I watched the twin towers fall on TV while in my dorm room in college. My elder brother was in his final year at The Naval Academy. I knew that morning that at some point, we would both be serving in whatever fight was about to come. After I graduated, he commissioned me as a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps on the deck of the Battleship Texas. Speaking of the “Mighty T” battleship, I hope we can bring her to Galveston after the shipyard finishes her repairs.
As for my civilian job at IPS Pump Services, my partners and I found a niche in the maritime liquid bulk transport, terrestrial storage tank and refinery industries. We manufacture, repair, install and commission rotating equipment in these facilities. Having grown up in the area, pursuing this sector of industry only seemed natural. I’d say that I would’ve followed in my parent’s footsteps and entered the space industry, but apparently skills in mathematics aren’t genetic.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always knew that I would be an officer in the military. I am proud to be one of the few who has had the opportunity to live out their childhood dreams. Now, of course, I’m still waiting on my invitation to be a professional monster truck driver, but I’m afraid that 10-year-old Seth may not have the opportunity to see that particular dream come to fruition.
What was your first job?
I inherited my first job from my older brother at the old Eckerd Drug Store. I worked as a store clerk after school, and on the weekends, I worked as a plumber’s apprentice for my grandfather’s plumbing company. During the summers in between college semesters, I worked for the Landry’s empire on the Kemah Boardwalk. My first job after college in the “real world,” was, of course, as an officer in the Marine Corps. Shortly after completing training, I had the opportunity to test it in Afghanistan engaged in narcotics interdiction and anti-smuggling operations throughout Helmand Province during “The Surge.”
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“If you are in charge of making decisions that effect a community, and while you are taking input from advisors in the room, you realize you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong damn room.” – Lt. Gen. Thomas Conant, USMC
He later expounded upon the statement to simply reiterate that as confident as you are in your leadership and decision-making abilities, it is imperative that you never plan in a vacuum when the welfare of others is at stake.
What’s your favorite thing about your job?
In my civilian career, it’s watching the additions that I’ve spearheaded through IPS Pump Services come together to link up multimillion-dollar processes; whether that be new pumps in terminal storage tank facilities, repaired pumps in refinery units, or simple maintenance on pipelines. It has been fun to be a part of each of these different pieces of the oil and gas industry that help maintain so many jobs in our community.
In my military role, my two favorite aspects are the pride that serving our nation brings about, as well as having the opportunity as a Marine Corps officer to mentor and help develop young Marines as they transition from young adults into mature members of our society.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started your career?
It’s the great learning paradox; the more we learn, the less we know. I am an avid consumer of books. I wish I had been when I was younger. I alternate between industrial history, military history and political/social theory books. There are dozens of lessons on business structure, leadership techniques and lessons learned that I am glad to have received from my readings rather than having to have learned them the hard way.
Who do you consider to be your greatest mentor and why?
My grandfather, Don Parnell, has been my greatest mentor. To me, he embodies the American Dream. He was born on a sharecropping farm, and through hard work and determination, created a successful plumbing company. He is humble, always quick witted, and a loving Christian family man. He taught us from a very young age that a man should never be judged for his physical attributes, but rather the measures he takes in order to take care of his family and serve the Lord.
When you’re not at work, what do you do to relax?
My children are at ages where the entire world in new. Nearly every experience is the first time, whether it be a fishing trip to the neighborhood pond, boating on Clear Lake, seeing butterflies at Moody Gardens, or watching a Disney movie that is decades old. My wife and I love to be spectators as they explore the world. Their love of life brings joy to our hearts.
What is something about you that most people don’t know?
When I was 19, my roommate and I got into a terrible automobile accident on our way to a college football game. The Jeep rolled several times, and he was ejected from the vehicle. By the grace of God, a retired EMT officer was taking a midnight drive along the backroad that we were on, saw the wreckage and brought in Life Flight. Sadly, my roommate passed, and as a result of the traumatic brain injury, I had temporary short-term memory loss. I moved out to one of my best friend’s ranch outside of Marfa, Texas. His older brother also had suffered from a traumatic brain injury about a decade prior, and they helped in my physical and mental healing. It was a trying time, but while I couldn’t have known it then, the experience helped me be able to be empathetic with the Marines I helped to retrain as one of the leaders of the OSCAR (Operational Stress Control And Readiness) program. Many of them suffered from traumatic brain injuries as a result of IEDs (improvised explosive devices), and the ability to help them through my past experiences was invaluable. The experience, along with many other negative experiences from the war in Afghanistan, has brought in me a perspective of gratitude and thankfulness for the life I am allowed to live. The grass is certainly greener and the sunset prettier after a few life-threatening experiences.
How do you hope to grow in your career?
I wish for my company to be known for quality of product and service. My hope is that we can continue to grow our relationships with local chemical plants and maritime transport companies. In a perfect world, that growth will allow me to hire more individuals who will be able to provide for their families and pursue their own individual goals.
As for my Marine Corps career, I intend on serving our nation in whichever capacity the Marine Corps deems fit for me and my skillset. I will continue my pursuit to obtain the rank of colonel, and when it is appropriate, retire and hang up my uniform one last time.
If you couldn’t do what you’re doing now, what would you be doing?
I was raised in a family where service to community and nation was an expectation. If I was no longer capable of serving in the Marine Corps, or participating in the ups and downs of the oil and gas industry, I would still feel obligated to take my talents to an area where I could serve. I think it would be a toss up between a professorship at my alma mater, Texas A&M (opting for the Galveston/Mitchell Campus, of course, so that I could still live in Galveston County,) or serving in an a role for a nonprofit that focuses on empowering children within the foster care system as my wife, Natasha, is an example of how successful an individual can be in that system if they are loved by the individuals that care for them and are given the tools to succeed on their own.