Employee Spotlight: Ed Haines

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Director of Procurement, Ed Haines, has worked at Tampa International Airport in several different managerial capacities for over 20 years, but he started his career in the U.S. Navy during one of the most politically charged periods of the Cold War.

He served for six years as an electronic warfare technician on naval ships during a time in U.S. history known as “The Second Cold War.”  When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, diplomatic, economic and militaristic tensions between the U.S. and Soviet Union increased to heights not seen since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

“The Cold War was our biggest focus,” Haines said. “It was also during the Iranian Hostage Crisis.”

Haines recalled one naval experience in 1979 when he and his crew rescued about 150 Haitians trying to escape their homeland, which was then under the oppressive regime of Jean-Claude Duvalier. The Haitians built a makeshift raft out of wooden pallets and hung on to it as they tried to float or swim to Florida. But Haines’ ship picked them up and carried them to safety.

As an electronic warfare technician, Haines operated and repaired electronic warfare equipment. Haines analyzed the frequency, power, direction and other characteristics of radar waves coming from various ships and objects. From this information, he determined the make and manufacturer of the radar systems, which in turn let him know if a particular radar system was on a cruise ship, Russian warship, airplane, submarine or missile.

Haines also managed a system that put out an electronic signal stopping other ships from picking up his ship’s radar signals.

Haines said he joined the Navy because he wanted to travel and see the world. He was not disappointed. He has been on cruises in the North Atlantic, Mediterranean and Caribbean, and around South America and Africa.

“I’ve been in so many different countries and ports,” Haines said. “All the different languages and how people lived – the cultures. It was just very intriguing and fascinating.”

Almost 30 years after his stint on the seas, Haines now oversees a team of 18 terrific hard-working employees who handle TPA’s centralized procurement.  He and his team research, advertise for, find and buy all commodities for all airport departments. The list of goods and services includes paper, pens, tables, chairs, vehicles as well as construction, design, and technology-based contracts.

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