Building operations, a bigger job than you probably imagined

MATC has about 3 million square feet within its district. This includes all campuses and an aviation center that is run out of General Mitchell International Airport.  MATC also operates a solar farm. Keeping all this clean and in good running order is the building services department.

James Weishan, senior director of operations, started out as the risk manager for the college about five years ago, and in the last three years has been the senior director of operations.  Weishan has a master’s degree in industrial hygiene and a bachelor’s in fire safety management/fire science.

To manage and maintain facilities the size of MATC, “A person has to know a lot, about a lot,” stated Weishan.

The college also owns about 70 acres of land that it maintains.  The entire maintenance crew consists of about 120 people, and the department has many resources.

The Downtown Milwaukee campus is steam heated. Another fact about this campus is that it is the only one to offer a shuttle service, which is run through the building operations department.  They also have a fleet of vehicles for the transportation of goods and services.

Weishan and his crew aren’t just responsible for keeping the bathrooms clean and classrooms cool/warm, they also handle lease agreements, major maintenance (roof/window repair, etc.) sustainability, safety, transportation, construction/ remodeling, new classroom construction and classroom remodeling.

For the most part, crew members are always at their assigned duty stations, but on rare occasions they might travel to a different campus for work or training.  These trainings include the processes to be carried out, the layout of the building, and the heating/cooling system.

The crew that everyone is interested in this time of year is the snow removal crew.  Weishan said that they start training with the people who have this work detail in late September or early October to ensure they are prepared before the snow begins to fall. They check all the equipment so that it is properly working. Also, they are trained in how to properly operate the machinery.

All crews have their start and end times depending on classification, which comprises of a first and second shift starting as early as 5 a.m. and second shift ending after midnight.

The snow removal crew must stay on top of the weather reports to keep abreast of the snowfall to know when their day should start.

Weishan stated that, “With all of the new construction, there is a need for people to run and help maintain these facilities, in essence there are many opportunities in this field.”  Derron Haynes, a building service worker 1, spoke about the duties of crew personnel.   “A BSW – 1 is responsible for bathroom cleanliness, floor upkeep and recycling, along with other tasks they must perform.  BSW – 2’s are mainly tasked with snow removal, maintenance and upkeep, and trimming hedges and cutting grass. Building service workers are well paid for the jobs that they do,” said Haynes.

He also stated that at times the job can be demanding, but for the most part, it is easy-going due in part to the team working together. Haynes added, “Building operations is important because we help maintain the buildings’ complexion to ensure a safe environment for all who walk the halls, and to make sure the facilities run smoothly.”