Mechanical Systems Experts Sail Toward New Horizons
Marine Mechanical & Technology on voyage to expand project opportunities
Driven to be the best, Darrell Wells, President of Marine Mechanical & Technology (MM&T), has worked to establish a stalwart reputation for his firm as a mechanical systems maintenance operator. Founded in 2016 and based in Chesapeake, Virginia, MM&T offers a variety of machinist and engineering services, including welding, rigging, valve rebuilds, hydraulic rebuilds and flushing, electrical and more. While MM&T’s primary focus has been on marine vessels—including ships for the U.S. Navy—its team of seasoned specialists have their sights locked on acquiring more land-based contracts in the building and construction industry.
Darrell and co-owner, lead mechanic and project manager Mike Gonzales are keen to share how they are growing their client base with help from The Blue Book Network®. But first, introductions!
A Stellar Duo
Combined, Darrell and Mike possess over 50 years of experience in the field of mechanical engineering, which is one of the broadest engineering disciplines. Specialists in this field must be competent in the research, design, development, building and testing of an array of mechanical systems and devices.
Darrell, who hails from Tennessee, is a certified machinist with 30 years of expertise in various areas. He also has industry certifications in millwright, welding, electrical, hot oil hydraulic flushing, and occupational safety and health. He met Mike, a native of the Philippines, about 15 years ago on the job. Before MM&T, Mike spent two decades in the U.S. Navy as an engineman, where he was responsible for almost every aspect of a ship’s propulsion system—including hydraulics.
Darrell recalls, “We worked together and talked about having our own business one day.” While they considered the idea of entrepreneurship a big risk, they were willing to take the plunge—working multiple jobs for years to save up for the tools and equipment they needed to get started.
Darrell continues, “Then finally one day Mike walked up to me and said, ‘How much longer are we gonna keep working two jobs?’ I said to him, ‘Mike, I don’t want to be a failure to you if we can’t make this work.’ I will never forget what he said to me next: ‘The worst that can happen is we would have to go back to work for someone else.’ So, we both left our other jobs, and here we are today.” He notes that one of their proudest accomplishments thus far is work performed on U.S. Navy and commercial marine vessels.
During his interview for this article, Darrell was keen on recognizing a few of the individuals who have positively impacted his career journey. “I’ve met some very wonderful, smart, upstanding individuals such as the late William ‘Bill’ Tinder, who I worked with earlier in my career. Scott Miller is another great man—we worked side by side on naval propulsion systems for Rolls-Royce (formerly the Bird-Johnson Co.), and now he is one of the top guys at Wärtsilä, a global firm specializing in smart technologies for the marine and energy markets. Another man I look up to is Steve Garner, the Vice President of Electric Motor & Contracting Co., Inc., which is probably the largest electric motor company in the U.S. No matter how busy this man is, he has always made time in his hectic schedule for me.”
Both Darrell and Mike believe their initiative, along with industry expertise and connections, will continue to propel MM&T into new markets of opportunity. And, thanks to their unique professional backgrounds, these company leaders recognize that optimal mechanical systems performance is key to keeping clients’ assets in prime working condition.
Opening the Floodgates to New Opportunities
MM&T’s leaders believe The Blue Book Network—the nation’s largest construction network—has been an indispensable resource in making new connections with companies, people and projects. With the help of Jonathan Hall, a business development consultant at The Blue Book Network, MM&T is looking to expand its footprint in the commercial and industrial markets and build relationships with general contractors, facility managers and others who have an ongoing need for its unique service offerings.
“It’s my privilege to help Darrell and Mike find new, creative ways to market and expand their business,” says Jonathan, who finds it intrinsically rewarding to support MM&T and other firms seeking to grow their potential in the construction industry. “I’ve been analyzing the company’s services and searching for parallel markets that would benefit from such expertise.”
Specific to the building and construction space, MM&T desires to work with those specializing in metal fabrication, underground utilities, pump stations, laboratories, community centers, and government and agricultural facilities. The company’s 12 employees can handle a variety of tasks, including flushing hydraulic systems, changing valves, installing reduction gears, repairing and installing pumps, piping and metal fabrication, preventative maintenance and more.
“We continue to operate on the cutting edge by maintaining the highest quality in training and technology,” Darrell says. “Because of this, we are primed to apply our skills and knowledge to a variety of project types.”
Recently, MM&T completed a pump station project for the city of Williamsburg, Virginia, where the crew replaced piping and repaired pump valves at a municipal golf course. The team has also performed work on other municipal sewage pumps, naval shipyards and at an airport—and more project prospects are on the horizon.
High Standards Build Strong Relationships
The leaders of MM&T understand the importance of personal connections, emphasizing how it is vital for employees to foster great relationships with each other as well as industry trade partners. Darrell notes how his staff establishes strong working relationships by performing solid work on or ahead of schedule. Mike adds, “One time we were given a big job to complete in six weeks and we finished it in three. It is jobs like this that get us referrals and repeat business.”
Attention to detail and a commitment to quality also cultivate a positive rapport—and serve to cement MM&T’s credibility as a reliable, dedicated contractor. “We have a high standard to uphold, and our employees and subcontractors know and appreciate that,” Mike says.
That same standard is applied when MM&T is looking to hire new talent. “We like to hire people who can do it all—welding, machining, electrical work, etc. We like guys who are talented in multiple areas and can deliver quality work,” Mike says, noting that MM&T provides all training and certifications in-house.
Making Time for Fun, Giving Back to Others
“Although we are serious about our work, we know how to have fun, too,” Darrell shares. “We like to get together throughout the year, relax and have a good time. We work hard—and can play hard, too!”
It is not uncommon for MM&T employees to gather for barbecues and other festivities at Darrell’s house. He emphasizes, “Although we are not blood relatives, we feel like family.”
This family-like work atmosphere also carries over to their clients. “We promise to never unfairly take advantage of someone who needs our services. We pride ourselves on honesty and integrity, and we firmly believe that you’ll see the difference when you choose our company. We want our clients to feel they can trust us just like family,” he continues.
It’s also important to note this team is not blind to those struggling in their community. Every year, they volunteer their time to serve the homeless in their hometown of Chesapeake. “A few times a year, like during Thanksgiving, we like to serve food to those less fortunate than us,” Darrell says. “We know and understand that sometimes life is really hard on some people, and it is important for those people to know that we care.”
Darrell has been known to hire homeless people for labor-type jobs to provide an income for them. Mike shares, “Darrell has a huge heart, and is extremely dedicated to his community. In fact, he’s the kind of guy that will stop on the side of the road to help someone out.”
This culture of helping others—paired with a focus on building strong relationships and executing projects with not just expertise, but also integrity—is just a glimpse into what makes MM&T special. As it continues to unfurl its sails in new business markets, its anchor in mechanical systems operations will undoubtedly secure plenty of projects and partnerships in the future.