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Monday, Apr 22, 2024

Setting a Higher Bar

DEFENSE: Woman-Owned Ship Repair Firm Expanding

Going from San Diego to a second office in Bremerton, Washington, is a natural progression for STANDARD Ship Repair. Both cities are U.S. Navy ports and STANDARD is enlarging its footprint.

Gina Garrett
President, Co-founder and Principal Owner
STANDARD Ship Repair

A woman-owned business, STANDARD is not only expanding its territory. It has also expanded the breadth of services it offers – so much so that it is finishing the process of changing its name. The business previously went by STANDARD Welding & Fabrication.

With the new name, STANDARD is adding services such as machining, coatings and production support.

STANDARD is owned by a husband and wife, with 51% of the company in the hands of Gina Garrett, who is also Asian American. CEO Keith Garrett owns the other 49%.

The business grew from $9 million to $13.5 million in revenue in 2022. Founded in 2017, the business has grown its employee head count from 85 to 115.

Having worked on the waterfront for more than a decade, Keith Garrett is thoroughly schooled in U.S. government requirements. His intent, he said, is to set a standard higher than the client is looking for.

Keith Garrett
STANDARD Ship Repair

The name of the business is also a nod to one of the most famous executives in American history: John D. Rockefeller of Standard Oil. Before he died in 1937, Rockefeller was able to give away a big chunk of his fortune—more than half a billion of pre-inflationary dollars—to educational, scientific and religious organizations.

Rockefeller was a man who built America, Keith Garrett said.

As for STANDARD, “I like the name,” Garrett said.

Fixing the Fleet

Mammoth links of anchor chain from the USS Essex, a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, sit against a wall in one part of the shop at STANDARD’s building on Newton Avenue in Barrio Logan. The neighborhood is in the heart of San Diego’s ship repair community. A short distance away, ships are in dry docks, taking shape on inclined ways and moored at the 32nd Street naval station.

In another area of the cavernous shop, Julius Agahan and Patrick Caniya are welding. Agahan takes the lead on the gas tungsten arc welding project while Caniya offers support. They are fabricating a custom length of pipe that will transport water or sewage beneath the decks of an aircraft carrier. The pipe is approximately 4 feet long and the middle has a junction leading off to a second pipe.

When this replacement component goes into place in the ship, the fit has to be exact, Keith Garrett said. Being off by one-eighth of an inch is not an option. “Good enough” may be acceptable for do-it-yourself home repairs but it is unacceptable for the Navy client.

A failure of a pipe carrying high-pressure steam can potentially kill someone, the CEO said.

On an adjoining table in the shop, workers have been fabricating a potable water tank out of copper nickel material – another custom job. STANDARD is able to work in copper nickel, stainless steel, aluminum and carbon steel.

Welding Together a Career

Keith Garrett is a 2006 graduate of Rancho Buena Vista High School in Vista. He received his degree in marine technology from National University. Just as pivotal to his education, however, was learning to do something useful with his hands – a skill that would also be valuable to the U.S. military. Garrett went to underwater welding school and then found a job on the San Diego waterfront.

He recalled that he has wanted to be in business for himself since he was in grade school, looking to his businessman father for inspiration. The exposure to Barrio Logan’s ship repair ecosystem, and the chance to watch shipyard leaders in action, gave him thoughts of how he might go into business for himself.

His partner, Gina Garrett, has a master’s degree in psychology, which is a good background for running the human resources aspect of the business.

The woman-owned aspect of the business can be helpful in obtaining contracting and subcontracting business, said Keith Garrett. The federal government sets aside a certain amount of work for women- or minority-owned companies.

The Port of San Diego Ship Repair Association lists 88 members in its directory. Other certified woman-owned businesses in the group are Acro Instrument Company, Delphinus Engineering Inc., EMS Ice Inc., Green Toes GRP & Coatings, Jo-Kell Inc., Navigational Services, Specialty Seals & Accessories Inc. and Walashek Industrial & Marine Inc. Many of these businesses have branch offices in San Diego, with their headquarters in other Navy ports.

As for STANDARD, it is currently eyeing opportunities in the Navy town of Mayport, Florida and the Norfolk/Hampton Roads area – the big Navy port in Virginia.

Breaking into new markets is possible with some help from good friends, Keith Garrett said.

STANDARD Ship Repair

FOUNDER AND CEO: Keith Garrett
HEADQUARTERS: Barrio Logan, San Diego
BUSINESS: Specialist in welding, inspection and general ship repair
REVENUE: $13.5 million
WEBSITE: standardinspectionservices.com
CONTACT: 619-231-3808
SOCIAL IMPACT: The woman-owned business’ workforce is approximately 16% women
NOTABLE: Keith Garrett’s father, who inspired his son’s foray into business, now works as a vendor for STANDARD


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