Leo Kinney admits that Texas’ unpredictable weather sometimes keeps him up at night.
“I’m a bit anxious about it when I’m away from the building,” admits the property manager at Fort Worth, TX-based Cash America, the largest publicly held pawn-shop company in the world.
It’s no wonder. Kinney has dealt with the consequences of Mother Nature’s wrath firsthand on the job. Six months after he joined the company as facility manager, a devastating tornado swept through the city’s business district, severely damaging the Cash America building.
As facility manager, it was Kinney’s responsibility to deal with the effects of the tornado and the reconstruction of the building. He worked with a team to assess the damage, determine the loss, and create the design for the new building.
He says it was important that any deficient areas of the building were corrected during the reconstruction, including HVAC, indoor air quality, controls, energy management and efficiency, ADA-compliant fire alarms, and the elevators. “The building, though built 22 years ago, is today a brand new structure,” he explains. “It’s a very uncomplicated building to operate and one that would make any property manager proud.”
Kinney says he learned a great deal about himself in the disaster’s aftermath and offers this advice to his peers: “Don’t sell yourself short. I did not know my own abilities until I was challenged by the tornado damage.”
Since that time, numerous colleagues have asked him if Cash America had a disaster plan in place to facilitate recovery and cleanup.
“My answer has always been, ‘Well, yes, but, not for anything like this,’” Kinney says, noting that while a tornado isn’t a typical occurrence in the day in the life of a facilities professional, it does reflect the fact that the job lacks predictability.
Kinney and his staff of 13, which includes the building engineer, security officers, and maintenance staff, accept that no two days will be alike. They work on the philosophy that their No. 1 responsibility is to protect Cash America’s facilities asset and to ensure that the building provides the company’s employees and the other tenants with a safe, comfortable working environment.
As a result, the facilities team has learned to appreciate the important role of a 24-hour, on-site security team. “It allows me to have procedures in place that should eliminate many of the surprises that may occur during the night or the weekend,” Kinney explains.
But surprises – like a major tornado – can pop up. You just have to be prepared, Kinney notes. “The job never ends, and it’s never dull. There is always something coming your way. Understand that this is the nature of a property. Embrace it, for it will make you strong.”
Robin Suttell, based in Cleveland, is contributing editor at Buildings magazine.