Transforming Passion into Livelihood
Lead Mobile Building Engineer, Randy, shares how a love for all things mechanical fueled his career trajectory.
Tell us how your journey led you to CBREI've always been mechanically inclined, always worked on my own automobiles—major and minor repairs. I started as a young boy with my father, out in the garage. We didn't have a lot of money, so my father worked on his automobiles and did everything that he possibly could to save a dollar. That's how I became interested in the mechanical part of things. A lot of that passion comes from my dad. I've just expanded on it over the years.
I'm originally from the Indianapolis, Indiana area. When I graduated from high school, I went to ITT Tech for heating, air conditioning and refrigeration. I went on from there into building maintenance and built on those skills, so I've been doing this type of work for a long time...39 years.
When we moved to Florida, I was with another company working in the Jacksonville area. I used to speak to a CBRE technician working at a bank that was next door to the facility where I worked. That’s what really had me interested in CBRE. I tried for a long time to get into the company. Then, one day, out of the blue, I got a phone call and the rest is history. I’m a building engineer, HVAC and refrigeration, working on the account of a major banking institution. I've been with CBRE going on four years.
Tell us more about that. What do you do as a building engineer on a client site?We're contracted to provide service taking care of everything from heating, air conditioning, ventilation to plumbing and electrical. I’m responsible for 27 locations between Tallahassee, Gainesville, and Ocala, Florida. The nice part about a job like this is the fact that you're not doing HVAC all the time. You're doing a multitude of things to help the client, sometimes that involves plumbing or electrical at different intervals throughout the day. For example, before we spoke, I had a plumbing issue I was working on. Then after that, at the same location, I was working on an HVAC issue. That’s the good thing, you're not stuck in one particular activity all day long. That's what I like about it. It does keep it interesting. I’m happy about the different things you get to do and learn on the job.
My Chief recently gave me my performance review and one of the things that he said was that I have a unique way of explaining complex things to ordinary people so that they can understand. We have the mechanical part, but our daily job is more about customer service. Building relationships is just as important as doing the mechanical job correctly, so is preventative maintenance. My goal is for the branch managers to come up with nothing to report. It means you're doing well. I remember one instance when they said everything seemed to be fine. I still did my checks and noticed something with the air conditioner and fixed it before it became a major issue. It’s absolutely about being proactive because it means you’ve got their back and you’re taking care of them. They know that they don't have to worry about it.
An ability to explain complex things for easy understanding is a great skill to possess, particularly in the workplace. I understand you’re using that skill in the Mentor Program. Tell us more about that.The mentor program is great, I like the teaching aspect of it. I would love to see them expand it a little bit more as far as the number of people involved. But other than that, it’s been a great opportunity to meet new people [virtually] in different parts of the country, see how they utilize their time every day, and the different things that they have to deal with.
Last year was the first time I did the mentorship program. I was paired with a new hire in Des Moines, Iowa. We hit it off really well; I also learned a lot from him because I'm mobile and that’s a whole different ball game. My mentee's a stationary technician on the corporate campus of a client account. I forgot what it was like to be stationary in some respects, so we actually learned from each other. The gentleman they paired me up with this year is in San Diego. He used to be a stationary technician for a medical company and then became mobile. He had a lot of questions about the best way to utilize his time, keep himself organized, and how to best plan his routes for the day, so I helped him with that, giving him advice and helping him build a system. It's been interesting.
Since you enjoy the teaching aspect of the program, do you plan to continue mentoring newer talent on how to succeed here?Yes, there's been good things that I’ve received and given in both years. I had a great review from my mentee and want to do it again, but now I want to be a mentee. I think it would be interesting if I changed it up and looked at it from another angle. I’m really open to being paired with senior leadership...I think that would be great for me. I'm leaning that way this year.
It’s evident you’re passionate about what you do. What are some of your other passions or pursuits outside of work?I like spending time with my family. We're raising two grandchildren. We've had both girls since Aubrey was one-and-a-half and Kylie was two-and-a-half. They're now 13 and 14 and we love to travel—no particular destination, just jump in the truck and go. We recently just sold the house that we had in town and bought five acres outside of town. We have three quarters of an acre garden and it's expanding even more. The first thing I love to do when I get home from work is go to the garden. I'm teaching my granddaughters so that they can hopefully remember this skill years later. I want them to be smart, safe, and somewhat self-sufficient. I'm passionate about that—I want them to have a good life.
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