Facility leaders share their thoughts on what to expect this year and beyond
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Ethan Fitterman, a 2022 Facility Champion Award recipient, is an exception. He knew early on that facilities would be his eventual career path.
“For a few summers during high school and college, I worked at a golf course on Long Island for their grounds keeping team,” Fitterman says. “This is where I first started to hear the term facilities. After two years of studying architecture, I realized that architecture was not my passion and decided to transfer schools. When transferring colleges, I found the school I was transferring to had a Facilities Management program which I knew I had to enroll in.”
Fitterman, chief engineer of aesthetics for Mariott International — Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center in Colorado, grew up in New York City, where he also started his career working as a facilities assistant and facilities coordinator with two different firms. His duties included managing small renovation projects, overseeing electrical shutdowns, coordinating contractor work, and also creating and processing purchase orders, among other duties.
Seeking a change in scenery, Fitterman found an engineering manager’s position at a downtown Denver hotel where he oversaw central plant operations and HVAC and laundry teams before landing at his current position, one of the largest hotels in Colorado, that he helped open. He’s been in his current position for three and a half years.
“I currently oversee our guest service technicians, craftsmen and rooms preventative maintenance (RPM) teams,” he says. “I also oversee our grounds, which I partner with our landscaping contractor, and assist with capital expenditure projects while aiming to improve our guest survey satisfaction maintenance and upkeep scores daily and manger our operational and contract budgets.”
Of course, as facility managers know all too well, those job requirements often require some outside-the-job-description duties. An example of Fitterman’s leadership was on display during the convention center’s opening months, when a new venue was just starting to get off the ground.
“I was most grateful for Ethan's leadership one night our opening month we had a main sewer line back up,” says Gaylord’s Jim Obermeier, who nominated Fitterman. “Everyone was overworked and Ethan said he had it under control. Working through the night he and his team were able to uncover the problem. A contractor had closed the main line with a 4-by-4 in it; an intentional act of sabotage that reared its ugly head. What started as a clogged toilet call for one of his teams turned into a several-week event having to mitigate and rebuild several rooms and a corridor. On top of all his opening responsibilities Ethan took this on and executed flawlessly.”
Fitterman defines achieving success by succeeding in two components: Communication and relationship building.
“I have found that sometimes you need to think outside the box and really hone in on your audience,” he says. “An example of this is when I send out a calendar invite to the departments that will be impacted by this work. In the body of the invite, I will modify floor plans in Adobe Acrobat and pictures of the area so the team is aware of the exact location and type of work happening.”
As for the second component, “I have found that taking the time to have one-on-ones or walk projects with the team has proven to have a positive impact in driving results. Anyone can send an email or text in a picture, but is your message really getting across? Taking the time to walk with an associate can be very impactful. This is where you really get to know someone and learn from them.”
Ethan Fitterman is the first in a series of 2022 Facility Champion profiles sponsored by Ferguson Facilities Supply. Fitterman 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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