Gifted industry economist recognized

By Irene Smith DLA Energy Public Affairs


The Picasso of pricing and the Rembrandt of research was how Larry Ervin was remembered to his friends and coworkers during his posthumous induction into 2019 Defense Logistics Agency Energy Hall of Fame at the McNamara Headquarters Complex, Fort Belvoir, Virginia, Nov. 13.

A brilliant and talented economist, Ervin began his 26-year DLA career in 1980 working for the Defense Fuel Supply Center Office of Market Research and Analysis as an analyst. He would later become the chief of market research for the Defense Energy Support Center, predecessor of what would become DLA Energy.

Accepting the Hall of Fame recognition on behalf of the Ervin family, Frank Rechner, deputy director of DLA Energy Supplier Operations, spoke warmly about the respected economist.

“His analysis of petroleum markets was the best,” Rechner said. “His weekly activity reports were the epitome of everyone’s week at the Center. He put the time, the research and I would dare say no one else could tie the 1950s World Series scores to current petroleum market trends. He made it relevant, personal and most of all memorable.”  

Al Colvill, a senior procurement analyst with DLA Acquisition, worked for Ervin and described him as a great boss.

“Larry was a regular, easygoing guy who was dedicated to his work, and always made time for his employees,” Colvill said. “He had a special presence about him. He was a man of few words, but his words carried weight. He was a patient and highly respected coworker who was able to draw in just about anyone and help them understand the economics of DLA Energy’s business.”

Described by those who knew him best as “probably the smartest guy in the room,” Ervin was a man with an encyclopedic memory and someone who had a unique gift of making spreadsheets and economic analyses understandable and entertaining.

An avid fan of the Baltimore Orioles, he often worked in batting records and scores in his economic discussions. But, when it came down to it, Ervin was a technical expert who would prepare accurate cost projections of DLA Energy’s multibillion dollar programs and economic forecasts said Gabby Earhardt, Head of the DLA Energy Contracting Activity. He was responsible for developing the market price ranges and analysis that DLA Energy contracting officers relied on in developing price objectives for contract negotiations, she said. 

“Larry was recognized as an expert in his field,” Earhardt said. “He participated in budget briefings and petroleum cost forecast meetings. He knew how the markets worked and his opinions and insight were sought not only by agency senior leaders but also fellow economists throughout the federal government.” 

Ervin’s influence was – and remains – immense and widely acknowledged by agency senior leaders and fellow economists throughout the federal government.

Subject matter experts at the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Energy compared their petroleum cost projections with his to ensure they prepared the most accurate forecasts for the Department of Defense and, in turn, the federal government.

Rechner described a situation when Ervin’s talents were called upon to explain the basis of a petroleum budget forecast. It was during the early stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom when DLA had the opportunity to receive extra obligation authority for increased tanker shipments, Rechner said.  

“Quick coordination between the Joint Staff and Office of Secretary of Defense approved approximately $50 million but without the substantiated numbers to back it up, the money wasn’t available,” Rechner said. “Enter Larry who responded 36 hours later with the defensible, mathematically derived number of $49.8 million. Classic Larry, memorable, informative and accurate.”   

Ervin’s 26-year DoD career was cut short as a result of a driving accident through no fault of his own, on his way to work in May 2006.

Knowing Ervin’s love for precisely accurate calculations, Rechner said, “Your selection in the DLA Energy Hall of Fame is not close to being right. It’s right on the money.”