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Each year, thousands of facility professionals gather at NFMT Baltimore to hear from experts in the industry, preview emerging technologies, and learn evolutionary approaches to challenges that facility managers face every day. Doug Kettel, a facility veteran and long-time NFMT attendee, shares insight on the changing industry, NFMT, and offers advice to those new to the facilities profession.
Q. How long have you been in the industry?
A. 40 years. I started out as a tradesman and worked my way through.
Q. What issues are currently occupying most of your time?
A. Regulations and technology. There is always something new every day.
Q. How are you currently dealing with these challenges?
A. It’s something you have to do, and you have to fit it in. If you look at this business, back in the ‘70s, we didn’t have half the regulations we have now. Between all the different agencies, it’s all for the better, but it increases our work every day. And technology is changing by the second. We used to say, “Wait till next year.” Now we say, “Wait till tomorrow.” There’s always something changing: saving water, electricity, gas. You have to stay on top of it.
Q. Looking ahead, what excites you about the future of the facilities business?
A. I’m excited about the technology and the constant progress. We are doing great things for the right reasons. We are no longer the “black sheep” of the family. We are seeing more facility managers in the board room. A good facility manager is worth the investment. They can actually help your bottom line, and people are starting to take notice.
Q. What’s your favorite thing about working as a facilities professional?
A. Change. In 40 years, I’ve seen so many things. There’s always something new. I love what I’m doing and it’s because of the change. We have to deal with everything. We have a real commitment to our trade. It’s a science. It’s a business. I read somewhere that if you love your work you will never work a day in your life. Well I guess in 40 years I have yet to work a day.
Q. Why should facility professionals attend NFMT?
A. Why not!? It’s a free conference. You get the top names in the business talking. You go through 90+ hours, over 120 educational sessions, meet and greet with people. All these guys want to talk with you! Where else could you talk with people from NASA and the Smithsonian? Everyone is swapping stories. And it’s free. Once a year it’s great to get away and talk to people going through the same things as you. You have the same problems. You come out of there with new ideas. You see the latest and greatest in innovation. That’s how you keep in touch with what’s going on in the business.
Q. What advice would you give to FMs who are just starting out?
A. Get involved. Don’t just sit in your building and say, “Woe is me!” There’s help out there for you. Get out to tradeshows. Keep up with it. You have to get out, get involved, meet people, go to tradeshows. Go to NFMT. I love NFMT. It helps. Every little bit helps. We’re all one big happy family. Somehow we keep it going.
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Registration for NFMT Baltimore, March 7-9, is now open.