12/31/2002

A Day in the Life of Steven Spencer

The Expert

 

Up Close and Personal

 

Steve, what is your

favorite movie?

“The Natural” with Robert Redford. My other favorite is probably “Remember the Titans.”

Favorite website?

My favorite site is the same one that Colin Powell likes. It has all sorts of interesting stuff. It’s (www.refdesk.com).

What do you do in

your spare time?

I act. I’m president of Heartland Theatre Company. We do a lot of cutting-edge theatre, and I like to act (amateur, of course), but I’ve had the privilege of working with a lot of very talented university majors and professors.

 

Steve Spencer was born with facilities management in his blood; or so his history makes it seem. His first job in high school was with Holiday Inn, where he served as everything from desk clerk to maintenance worker. After graduating with a history degree from the University of Illinois, a former hotel manager he had worked for offered him a full-time position in hotel management.

After years in management, Spencer accepted a position with a contract cleaning company, which eventually led to a position involving sales of janitorial supplies and equipment. After eight years on the road, he switched gears again – this time, accepting an environmental services job with a local healthcare facility.

A friend who was working for State Farm Insurance in Bloomington, IL, had been telling Spencer he should consider working there. After a rough day of work at the healthcare facility, Spencer asked his friend to get him an application. He filled it out, interviewed, and was told he would have been perfect for a position they just filled. They asked to keep his résumé on file, and later that same day, he received a call leading to a job offer.

“The interesting thing is that I met a gentleman about 20 or 25 years ago who had the job I have now [at State Farm]. And I said, ‘Boy, I’d like to have that job. That’s the job to have.’ And now I’ve got it,” says Spencer.

As a facilities specialist, Spencer is responsible for “anything to do with cleaning or interior maintenance,” as he puts it. He is also the company’s resource for flooring specifications, and coordinates and teaches its Interior Maintenance School. “That impact has made a major difference in our organization. The people I taught eight years ago are now becoming managers and assistant managers … they’re coming back to the things we taught them and insisting that their people come to class, that they do things the right way.”

Spencer’s knowledge of the cleaning and interior maintenance industry has had major effects. By implementing an appropriate maintenance program, he has doubled the life of the company’s carpet and flooring finishes. When he began in 1994, State Farm was replacing carpet every five or six years. Now, the company’s average carpet lasts 10 to 12 years. The “how, why, and what-if” phrase Spencer employs is the key to how he discovers better ways of doing things. “If we know how we do it, we can ask why we are doing it that way, and then decide [what would happen] if we did it a different way,” he explains.

The biggest challenge Spencer believes his industry will face in 2003 is maintaining quality while reducing costs. “I see people cutting back on frequency in maintenance without any concern for maintaining the quality.” He explains that when budget cuts are made, cleaning and maintenance are the first things to go. “That’s where the big number is. A lot of people think it’s a pretty big cost on a daily basis, but they don’t realize what it would cost if you didn’t maintain [something] and then have to replace it in an emergency situation four years down the road.”

A piece of advice he offers? “Be the expert. It comes back to the ‘how, why, and what-if.’ If you don’t know the how, you can’t do the why and what-if. You have to know everything about your operation,” he says. As such, Spencer has become involved in all selections throughout the company’s facilities, with co-workers asking for advice regarding design and layout to provide better function and easier maintenance from day to day. “You have to be the expert,” he notes.

Leah B. Garris (leah.garris@buildings.com) is editorial coordinator at Buildings magazine.

 


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Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.

Add highly responsive multi-zone comfort to any building project, in any climate. Our CITY MULTI H2i R2- and Y-Series VRF systems give you flexibility to fit the needs of any building. Enjoy 100% heating capacity at 0°F outdoor ambient, and 85% heating capacity at -13°F outdoor ambient.  For more information, log on to www.mitsubishipro.com

 
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