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Johnathan Morris’ job description reads more like a short novel. As director of facilities for Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino, Morris oversees the maintenance and engineering department, manages the resort facility’s landscaped areas, and coordinates construction and renovation projects.
That level of responsibility can be overwhelming. But being involved in all facets of the organization helps Morris understand the collaborative effort necessary to take on a major construction or renovation project.
New construction projects offer organizations a clean slate, eliminating the potential maintenance and engineering challenges posed by large-scale renovations or additions to existing buildings.
Managers at Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino near Yosemite National Park in Coarsegold, Calif., discovered those challenges when they decided to add an 11-story, 150,000-square-foot hotel to the casino. Fortunately, Morris relied on experts on the construction and maintenance sides to ensure the project not only was completed according to design intent but also was maintainable.
“It’s critical,” Morris says. “Having the maintenance (managers) and general maintenance staff being a part of the expansion while things are going on is huge so they can understand the systems, connection points, and valve locations.
“Fortunately, as the director of facilities overseeing the department and acting as the liaison between the two (construction and maintenance), I was able to make sure I had my maintenance staff and my management involved throughout the entire project.”
Chukchansi completed the $100 million project, which includes the construction of a training facility and parking garage, in August 2008. Maintenance and engineering staff faced minor hurdles during the construction process and soon after the building began operating. But now it is business as usual for the resort facility.
“I think we really reaped the benefits of the early involvement,” Morris says of his 40-person, full-time maintenance staff. “Having the maintenance department familiar with the new expansion and where things are, that was probably the biggest key component to now having a year behind us. It’s definitely a big thing for us and a key factor.”
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