I Spy Someone making a difference.
I Spy: Project Manager Jerry Starling gets job doneby Mona Prufer
It’s been five years since Jerry Starling finished his work refitting the Myrtle Beach Education Center into the building that it is now. Yet he still drops by with doughnuts for the staff to make sure things are still working ok. “Sometimes they need help opening doors and so on, and I live nearby, so I’m always going by to see what they need,” he says.
“Jerry Starling has been such a blessing to the staff at the MBEC,” says Kelli Barker, director of the center, in nominating him for I Spy, an employee recognition program through Coastal Carolina University’s Office of Human Resources. “He's always willing to assist, give solid advice or gently direct us if we call upon his services. Jerry is hard working, gracious and very generous.”
For 10 years, Starling has been helping to build and renovate buildings for the ever-growing campus that is CCU. He has refitted the Band Hall, the marine science testing lab, the lighting system for the intramural sports fields and the140-seat theater space at 79th Avenue North. His most recent project was construction of the new Public Safety building, and his next project will be construction of the 12-court Tennis Complex located adjacent to the Coastal Science Center.
Those who have worked with Starling, from contractors to people like Barker, are quick with praise.
“Oh man, he was a great person to work with,”’ says Police Chief David Roper. “He was very accommodating. If we needed him or had a problem, he would come over and work with us to get it fixed. He kept us in the loop during the process. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to work with.”
Facilities supervisor Rein Mungo says about Starling, who is mostly assigned to the east side of campus in the Atlantic Center area, “He is very conscientious and watches the contractors with an eagle’s eye to ensure the work is completed as requested.”
Starling came to work for CCU in 2004. He was involved in actually building what is now the Coastal Science Center back in 1997 when he managed Carolina Assemblies, which owned and inhabited the 69,000 square-foot office/manufacturing building at that time. CCU leased the building, moving computer science and information systems into existing office spaces. Later, 14 marine science offices and a graduate student area was built. In 2005, additional offices were constructed, along with 22 classrooms and teaching labs.
“It was a tight timetable,” says Starling, whose office is now located in the same building he helped build. “We worked weekends and nights trying to get that building refitted for classes in August.”
The former warehouse/CSC is Starling’s favorite project. The company where Starling was employed for 23 years eventually surrendered its operations to China manufacturing.
At first, making the switch from a profit-driven company to the state system was very frustrating, says Starling, hefting a 4-inch binder of regulations. “Things are more procedural.”
“I’m very much a people person,” says Starling. “I have a hands-on background. If there is a problem, I like to go there in person, not through email. Solutions are everywhere, you just have to find them.”
He and his late wife and two children moved to the area in 1970 from Greensboro, N.C. He spent seven years involved in international munitions in Europe, the Middle East and the Caribbean. He now has two granddaughters, one a Kutztown University senior and one a former CCU student.
“They’re my pride,” he says, showing a framed picture of two pretty young women.
When not working, Starling loves to golf. His backyard backs up to the Pine Lakes Country Club fairway, but his favorite course is the traditionally designed Dunes club, where he plays at least once a week.
Two of his most proud life events were testifying before the Armed Forces Subcommittee as a supporter of the Buy Americans Act in 1976 and having breakfast in the White House in the presence of President Jimmy Carter.
Starling is quick to caution that he’s “not the premier project manager” in CCU’s Department of Facilities Planning and Management. “I am a minor project manager,” he says, pointing out that his team members are highly skilled project professionals spanning a wide range of expertise involving civil, mechanical, construction and code compliance.
“We have some very talented people.”
Barker says: “Coastal Carolina University is blessed to have employees like Jerry on staff. His gentle guidance and solid advice have helped us through numerous situations at the MBEC, and for that we're incredibly grateful. He's a dedicated employee who gives over and above what's required of him and deserves to be recognized for his service.”