Joining an impressive list of men and women who have distinguished themselves by drawing upon their military experience in their personal lives is Coast Guard veteran and founder of J.D. Power and Associates, Inc., J. David Power III, who served as an officer aboard a Coast Guard icebreaker during the mid 1950’s. Power was recently honored with the Lone Sailor Award at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.
Power has spent almost 50 years as a pioneer in studying consumer opinions, with 40 years as founder of what has become one of the most prestigious marketing information companies in the world, J.D. Power and Associates.
In his four years as an officer aboard the Coast Guard’s historic icebreaker Eastwind, Power helped lay the groundwork for a new understanding of the Polar regions through three trips to the Arctic and one to the Antarctic. Braving volatile weather and treacherous ice, Power and his shipmates supplied scientists with valuable geophysical data.
In a recent interview at the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., Power shared with Coast Guard Compass his experiences while in the Coast Guard and how the Coast Guard’s core values of honor, respect and devotion to duty have reflected in his civilian life.
Compass:What led you to choose the path of the Coast Guard?
J. David Power III: Growing up in Worcester, Mass., during World War II, I had an interest in the Coast Guard. As a senior in college, getting ready to get my degree, I talked two of my classmates into going down and taking the OCS test. So in October ’53, I spent four months then moved directly to the [Coast Guard Cutter] Eastwind. I spent literally three years of sea going adventure.
Compass: What do you remember most about your service in the Coast Guard?
Power: There were so many things that happened those three years on the Eastwind. We resupplied the weather stations and the LORAN stations, which had just been installed. In ’55 we crossed the Arctic Circle on the Fourth of July going north and got to the furthest point north of any surface ship at the time. Almost within one mile of the alert station on top of Ellesmere Island. [Then] we were on our way to the Antarctic, through the Panama Canal, New Zealand and down to the Ross Island and McMurdo Sound.
Compass: Can you briefly discuss some high points of your Coast Guard career?
Power: I was at sea all the time and it was great. To go to both the [North] and South Pole, it was something that I don’t think I could have ever done without the Coast Guard.
Compass: After your service you went on to a successful business career. What skills did you learn in the Coast Guard that were essential to your business career?
Power: You have to be true to yourself, true to everyone else that you run into. And that’s the way we ran our business. Our business was really a family business. My wife and children helped me get started on it and we expanded it. I sold the business in 2005 and we had 850 employees around the world and we were still a family business. I really learned teammates count and that you have to have the environment where everyone trusts everyone else and that’s what I saw in the Coast Guard.
Compass: The Lone Sailor is the namesake of the award you are being presented with and is a statue that exists in memorials all around the United States. The original is here outside the Navy Memorial and is a tribute to all personnel of the sea services. What does it mean for you to represent the sea services?
Power: I’m delighted to have the opportunity to receive this award. I usually hand out the awards, the JD Power awards, and I know how much they mean. They were designed to change peoples thinking, to be more responsive to the customer. I think that’s the same thing this program is doing. Giving some very personal assistance where it’s needed. And I think that’s a noble act.
The Lone Sailor Award is given to Sea Service veterans who have excelled with distinction in their respective civilian careers while exemplifying the Navy core values of Honor, Courage and Commitment.