Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Maintaining Your Maintenance Staff: Creating Maintenance Standards without the Funds Doesn't Have to Be a Chore

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Maintaining Your Maintenance Staff: Creating Maintenance Standards without the Funds Doesn't Have to Be a Chore

Article excerpt

Have things never seemed to look just right to you as you enter your park or facility? Ever wonder why you see things that need to be done that the maintenance crew doesn't?

Have you been getting complaints about appearances and conditions of facilities? Is participation dropping off? Are repair costs mounting?

This journey started long ago, took several detours, was abandoned several times and has final!y been addressed. As a former park superintendent of a small department, I constantly encountered the events of the aforementioned. Solutions seemed to range from more help, to new personnel, more training and the dreaded "micro-management." Nothing worked. As the department grew, it became more difficult to handle the situation. Ever hear from your constituents and policy makers, "They can't take care of what they have, why should they have more to take care of?" Get the picture?

Jump forward many years in experience, maturity and a chance to look at the problem from a different point of view, plus the application of knowledge on the subject of maintenance management. Funny how knowledge works. So, after years of being a frustrated maintenance manager, I saw the light. But the first step was the crucial one; to see the facility as the participant or customer sees it. Then take ownership and feel the pain of dissatisfaction and embarrassment it causes. Then develop maintenance standards. Sounds easy, doesn't it? It is. Really.

What started out as an assignment in a facilities management class ended up as a practical application of management theory. It just made sense that the facilities we own should reflect the quality we want to instill in the students. Mind you, this is just the basics, and only a start, but stay tuned. You will come away with a plan for making something happen. Our experience was both positive and negative. One positive was that for the first time, we had a seasonal maintenance plan, monthly plans, a set of standards by which to judge the quality of the maintenance and the appearance, and functionality of the facility.

The facility

The Indiana State University (ISU) Field Campus is a 95-acre outdoor education/recreation center that serves students, faculty and staff. The Department of Recreation and Sport Management operates the facility. The varied uses and services include outdoor courses, adventure programming, camping, fishing, small craft boating and open recreation--including picnicking, hiking and other outdoor purr Suits. The property is also available to other academic departments on campus, such as the Life Sciences Teaching Center. The property is a reclaimed strip mine with five lakes, natural areas, a platform tenting area, hiking trails, a high ropes course, a team initiative course, climbing tower and pistol range. Additionally, the property has a classroom building with a kitchen, restroom and shower facilities, and a maintenance garage.

To maintain the building, the ISU Field Campus staff consists of one, full-time resource manager and two student workers. The facility does enjoy some equipment maintenance mad skilled labor support from the Facility Management Division of the university, but this does not extend to day-to-day care, repair and upkeep.

Set Maintenance Standards

Maintenance is defined by Robert E. Sternloff, former director of the Maintenance Management School at North Carolina State University, as "keeping areas and facilities in their original state or as nearly so as possible." Several barriers exist that prevent the full realization of this definition. …

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