How many times have you been in an office with a stunning view only to find the occupant’s desk facing the door rather than the window? Not so in Delmas Whitaker’s office. He looks out over 300 plus boats at Fisherman’s Terminal. “The view brings out my creative side,” he says. Delmas Whittaker is the Senior Manager for Fishing and Commercial Vessels at Fishermen’s Terminal, the Maritime Industrial Center, and the Salmon Bay Marina. He has had this job for a little more than a year. Prior to that Delmas worked ten years at SeaTac Airport Maintenance Shop.
Whittaker, who spent twenty-five years in the Navy and retired as a Lieutenant Commander, admits some of the older more established boat owners asked about his qualifications for his new job. “When asked I told them I’ve never been on a fishing vessel but I have been in charge of a 96,000 ton displacement aircraft carrier with seventy-six aircraft and five thousand people and two nuclear power reactors.” After that, there were no more doubts.
“Everyplace I’ve been, I try to leave it a little better. I am looking forward to introducing that next step in innovation and trying to keep pace with the direction of our commercial fishing industry,” he said, “making sure we provide an above standard product for the fleet. We’re proposing that the old ship supply building on the site be developed into an innovation center as an incubator for new maritime ideas.”
Delmas Whittaker’s creative side does not end there. He is committed to the Port Gen program and seeking innovative ways to help women owned and minority owned businesses set themselves up for success and understand what it takes to get there. Port Gen seeks to increase diversity among suppliers and give more contracts to Minority and Women Business Enterprises and Veteran owned firms (MWVBE).
There are a myriad of contract opportunities at the Fishermen’s Terminal—everything from supplying safety gloves to security. “As we look at different internal needs, instead of going right to Amazon or a big box store, there might be an opportunity to do outreach with an MWVBE firm. My role is to show my folks that we need to do that. It’s about diversity in contracting. It only takes a little patience.”
Aside from being an ambassador for the fishing industry, Delmas Whittaker’s favorite part of his job is connecting with the surrounding community. “We support the North Pacific Fishing Fleet, but I also want to share our dedication to diversity in this community.” Whittaker is the past vice president of the Port’s Blacks in Government group; a member of the Fishermen’s Memorial Committee, and he is on the Sea Fair Board of Directors.
Whittaker is also helping to create a STEM curriculum for the Washington Alliance for Better Schools and he encourages disadvantaged students to think about a career in the maritime industry.
“If I can change the direction in a positive way for one kid, I consider that to be successful.”
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Photo and article credit: Linda Kennedy, LK Media