People rarely think about facility managers, or as we used to call them, custodians. I had the privilège to meet and work with a man who set the standard for the best of the best when it came to caring for the building that housed the TV station for which I worked.
Tom was a retired air traffic controller who played ice hockey. His brother worked at the station, so I think that’s how Tom got the custodian position. Now, Tom didn’t mop the floors or clean the bathrooms–we hired a cleaning service to perform those functions at night. But he took care of the building.
Tom arrived at work before anyone else (pre- 24-hour TV era). He went into every single office and checked the lights. Every single morning. A burned-out bulb was a personal affront to him. Once a week he flushed out the drains in the restroom floors to make sure they were clear. We never ran out of toilet paper, paper towels, or soap. In the winter, he tooled around on his little tractor keep the driveways and parking clear of snow. In the summer, his little tractor converted to a lawn mower, and he kept the grounds immaculate.
His wife Bea was a sweetheart and always made the best ham loaf for our potlucks.
He eventually retired from the job, and although we had some great guys in the position afterward, no one ever reached Tom’s level.
I thought about him the other day when I was getting ready for my daughter’s wedding and pulled out the table cloth his wife made as a wedding gift for me.