03/01/2002

A Day in the Life of Mark Kruse

Curious, Candid, and in Control

 

Up Close and Personal

Mark, what are your favorite pastimes?

I like gardening. To me, it’s therapeutic. I’m a voracious reader of architecture and history; I’m interested in Roman and Egyptian antiquities; and I’m a huge ocean liner buff. And I like film from the Golden Age of Hollywood – silent films through the ’40s.

What do you consider your most important tools?

My more important tool at work is meetings … Face to face. Then, secondly, e-mail, though e-mail – if you’re not real careful with your words – can come off not the way you intended. At home, I’m a very visual person. That’s probably why I buy architecture art books because they give me other ideas to use as a hobby and as an escape.

If you could meet one person, who would it be?

… It would probably be Julius Caesar. To me, he was a brilliant statesman. He had a brilliant mind in terms of the calendar we use and his interpretation and vision of future things related to civilized societies. He was a military leader; he was certainly a politician. Rarely, in my mind, do people have all those traits … and it fascinates me that [a person] could have that many capabilities in one mind.
As a child when such projects as the John Hancock Tower and Sears Tower were changing the Chicago skyline, Mark Kruse recalls how his engineer father and interior designer/ homemaker mother impressed upon him the imagination and foresight involved in creating such landmarks. Years later, that interest turned into an educational pursuit for college-bound Kruse when he obtained a Bachelor’s of Science in Architecture and a Master’s of Architecture, Design Option, from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

Today, as assistant vice president, Real Estate Project Management, Corporate Real Estate, at Chicago-based CNA Insurance, Kruse’s design background and years of working with corporate clients have been instrumental in improving the firm’s facilities infrastructure. More importantly, such spatial expertise and an ingrained problem-solving and far-sighted business sense will help Kruse and his managerial staff of 20 reach the company’s 12-month restructuring goal to consolidate approximately 190 locations into 75 for greater real estate efficiency and profitability. Currently, that portfolio covers approximately 6 million square feet of some owned but mostly leased space. Post-restructuring will shrink the numbers to under 5 million, notes Kruse. An even longer-term challenge, according to Kruse, will be “to continue managing the portfolio so it doesn’t start to proliferate back to its existing state of multiple offices in certain locations.”

Oversight is being directed by Corporate Real Estate’s three teams: Two consist of project managers and move coordinators, who do the planning, construction administration, relocation, and furniture ordering with the company’s dealers and other outside vendors, along with transaction people, who do the negotiation with brokers on the buildings. A third team, called Technical Services, manages the organization’s CAD and space management systems, which track leasing, design/drawing, and asset management – extremely important during the restructuring, as these provide an accurate measurement and reporting system of current space from which to evolve. “Another step in the aggressive consolidation schedule,” says Kruse, “is to re-emphasize corporate guidelines or standards.”

Approximately 15 percent of existing space is in private offices; the remainder, on average (with the exception of the firm’s legal operations) is in systems furniture – all supplied by CNA’s “standard” manufacturer. “We had a large inventory in place when we changed [furniture] manufacturers last year,” explains Kruse, noting the process involved providing the company’s furniture standards, price points, and requirements for service agreements and guaranteed deliveries with the existing supplier and four others. “We also bid out the dealership,” adds Kruse. “Previously, we had been somewhat hand-tied to the same dealer and manufacturer and wanted the latitude to keep both – or fire one and stay with the other – based upon how well they are able to keep meeting our needs.”

Such decisions show not only how accountable Corporate Real Estate is to best practices, but also its long-term expectations toward suppliers – and each other. “In becoming even more consistent, our senior management is in line with decisions that are business-driven and rational, and less capricious in terms of local whims and wants,” says Kruse.

Implementing and communicating creative solutions,  notes Kruse, is extremely rewarding, whether it is from his direct design input or through mentoring a project manager. His advice? “Try to be informed, educated; and ethical when conducting business. Building credibility takes years. To get into a position where you’re respected as a resource takes time and is difficult, but it’s worth doing because it eventually makes your life easier.”

Linda K. Monroe (linda.monroe@buildings.com) is editorial director at Buildings magazine.
 

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Need portable cooling?

Rent or buy spot coolers from full-service locations nationwide. On call “24/7”. Primary, supplemental or emergency cooling. Atlas Sales & Rentals, Inc., or call (800) 972-6600.

Click here for more info


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.

Yaskawa drives offer quality performance for air handlers and cooling towers on the roof to secondary chilled water pumps in the basement

Bluebeam® Revu® simplifies digital facilities document management from design review to leveraging as-builts, maintenance manuals and O&Ms submittals.

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.


 
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