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2022 Facility Champion: Doug Pearson Fills Many Roles at Kent State
It’s often said that successful facility managers need to wear many hats in their profession.
Doug Pearson, the vice president of facilities planning and operations at Kent State University in Ohio, agrees.
“The ideal facility manager must have Aristotle’s logic and Solomon’s wisdom, a priest’s discretion, and a gambler’s poker face, a lawyer’s shrewdness, a marketing director’s charm, a gladiator’s guts, a marathon runner’s perseverance, a sprinter’s speed, a leatherneck’s toughness and a dancer’s agility,” he says.
Not to mention, “Lots of luck, and 30 hours per day,” he adds.
Pearson, a 2022 Facility Champion Award recipient, has seen plenty during a 35-year facilities career in K-12, health care, the federal government and higher education, including Kent State, where he responsible for more than 8 million square feet and more than 350 employees across 10 campus locations.
The university is currently in the middle of the first phase of the Kent State Gateway Master Plan, an $110 million capital improvements project that was developed coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic that focuses on better HVAC systems and flexible learning spaces to include remote and blended education opportunities, and smaller, shared working spaces.
A part of that project and one of Pearson’s prouder projects is a $9 million HVAC project.
“It’s a front campus chilled water loop and plant project,” he says. “This project will replace six chillers in three buildings with a centralized chiller plant with two magnetic bearing chillers. The chilled water supply and return piping will feed 11 buildings, improving efficiency and building comfort.”
Like many FMs during the pandemic, work-from-home wasn’t in the vocabulary for Pearson and his staff, which spent its time on campus transforming it for the time when students and staff would return to campus.
The staff made HVAC modifications and worked with health professionals on learning more about and obtaining personal protection equipment (PPE) and created isolation dorm rooms before purchasing and distributing PPE and sanitizing materials. Pearson also worked with Kent County health officials to set up a vaccination space in the athletics fieldhouse.
Despite all of the projects and happenings during his day job, Pearson found time to write about his experiences in a leadership book titled, “Facility Management: What Really Matters.”
“The book covers eight critical areas,” Pearson says. “They include basic human needs, emotional intelligence, change management, conflict management, motivation, recognition, power of positive attitude and customer service.”
In a profession that requires the ability to manage many tasks at once and occasionally put out fire after fire, Pearson stresses that customer service is an important — even if it’s a forgotten — aspect of facilities management.
“Success in facilities management is exceeding the expectations of your customers,” he says. “Businesses expect facility managers to lead in a variety of ways – technically, socially, during times of crisis and during change. All the while they must control costs and improve service.
“In addition, leadership in facilities management should occur in all directions — downward to staff, sideways to colleagues and upward to senior management. We have the responsibility to develop the facility management department into a professional operation, train and re-train staff, establish procedures and conduct quality assurance and performance management.”
Doug Pearson is the third in a series of 2022 Facility Champion profiles sponsored by Ferguson Facilities Supply. Pearson and other champions were recognized for their leadership and creativity in Facilities Management by FacilitiesNet. Honorees have been invited to participate in a Facility Champions Roundtable at NFMT Remix at Paris Las Vegas Resort, Nov. 2-3.
Dave Lubach is managing editor of the facility market.
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