Childhood friends find opportunity, steady careers at Georgia Ports


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From left, Parker Barwick, Jason Mallard, Bradley Carter and Alex Mayer pose at the Mason Mega Rail Terminal. The four friends grew up together in Slyvester and are now working together at the Georgia Ports Authority.

Four pals have positions in intermodal operations

They have been friends for more than 30 years.

“We all grew up together,” said Equipment Operator Bradley Carter. “Our parents were friends and from here up we’ve been stuck with each other,” he said while holding his hand at knee height.

The group grew up playing baseball and racing motocross together and even working first jobs at a grocery store together. Now, Jason Mallard, Bradley Carter and Parker Barwick are equipment operators while Alex Mayer is assistant manager of operations, all working in intermodal. Most days at lunch, you can find the group working out together at the GPA gym.

They are from, Sylvester, Ga., what they call a small town and the peanut capital of the world. It is about a four-hour drive from the Port of Savannah.

Because it is a small town (the 2018 population was 5,756) Carter noted that there wasn’t much opportunity there for young people looking for a career. “If you weren’t a farmer or had something passed down to you from your family, that was it,” he said.

Barwick said before his move to Savannah, he had been working two jobs to support his daughter. “To move here and just work one job and have two days off a week, that’s crazy.”

When asked how they learned about the ports, they all point at Mallard. He was the first to move to the area and work at Georgia Ports.

“He was a package deal,” Mayer said grinning. “About every five or six months one of us moved over here.”

It was a challenge leaving family and their hometown, but Mallard said he did it because he wanted a stable career.

“If it wasn’t for him,” Carter said, “We probably wouldn’t be here.”

They have all settled in the area from Effingham County to Richmond Hill. Several have married and started families. They enjoy visiting home but are happy to live and work here.

“We love it here,” Bradley said. “It makes it good knowing that there are other people from your hometown around. We couldn’t be happier.”

For more information on careers at Georgia Ports, visit