After graduating from high school in Buffalo, NY, Gary Watson joined the U.S. Navy where he was trained in the Advanced Electronics Program.
After completing nearly two years of schooling, Watson was stationed at Naval Security Group Activity Edzell, Scotland where he maintained and repaired a variety of cryptographic equipment.
“Edzell was a truly great place to be stationed,” said Watson. “Some of the best times of my life occurred there.”
From Scotland, Watson was transferred to Panama. He was discharged in 1972.
After being discharged, Watson returned to Buffalo where he worked as an electrician in a steel mill before applying to NASA as a computer technician.
“I saw an ad for technicians to work at support tracking stations around the world,” Watson said.
“I had always wanted to go to Madagascar and I was hired to go there.”
Watson said he completely enjoyed his experience in Madagascar until a coup changed governments after he was there 15 months.
“It became obvious things had changed significantly, so I returned to the U.S.,” Watson said.
He moved to North Carolina where he worked at another NASA tracking station for approximately one year before going into the contstruction business.
Watson worked for ten years as a foreman and superintendent on construction jobs before moving to Charleston, S.C.
In 2001, Watson joined M.B. Kahn Construction where he worked on projects for Horry County including the South Strand Government Complex, the old Courthouse renovation in Conway and the new Government and Justice Center in Conway.
“In 2004, Watson joined Horry County as Director of Construction and Maintenance.
“I got tired of spending a considerable amount of time on the road and I was familiar with county staff and the county buildings,” Watson said. “I believe it was a good fit for both of us.”
He said one of the appeals of his current job is never doing the same thing two days in a row.
“One day I may be working on maintenance details and the next on the new jail expansion,” he said.
Watson and his department are responsible for the maintenance of 100 county buildings as well as the management of new capital construction projects.
“The guys who work for me are very productive and do a very good job,” Watson said. “With the increase in fuel prices and a tight budget, we have had to become more efficient, but we are getting the job done.”
Watson’s department is also completing an energy audit of county buildings with a view to decreasing energy usage and increasing air quality in each building.
“With the cost of energy going up, it is important to squeeze as much as we can out of every dollar,” he said.
“I am very happy I decided to join Horry County,” Watson said. “I work with a great group of people whose first goal is how to best take care of the citizens we serve.”