FM Frequency: Feverish Forum Recap

By Jeff Crane, P.E., LEED® AP
Published in the May 2009 issue of Today’s Facility Manager

FM Frequency occasionally ends with the disclaimer, the views of the author do not necessarily represent those of the staff or management of Today’s Facility Manager, Group C Media, or its advertisers. Well, this month’s column begins with an author’s disclaimer: The views of the author may not be coherent due to severe [non-Swine] flu affliction. The author hasn’t slept more than two continuous hours in several days, and his body feels like a tackling dummy after an NFL training camp. The sensations in his brain, nose, throat, eyes, neck, back, lungs, and even his hair and skin feel like he’s been swimming in (and inhaling) Dremel Tools rotating at 28,000 rpm.

With that established, this month’s FM Frequency offers an interview with the author, conducted by the author after the recent Spring TFM Forum. Yes, this may seem like a bizarre introduction, but please stick with us. You see, the cyclical fever helps Mr. Crane assume multiple identities (just ask his family) and even refer to himself in the third person—something that annoys him when attempted by others. [And for those concerned, he has fully recovered.]

Q: Good afternoon Mr. Crane. Thank you for agreeing to discuss your recent visit to the Spring TFM Forum in California.
A: Who are you and what are you doing at my desk? It is really hot in here.

Q: Ugh…you’re so disagreeable when you’re ill. You know why I’m here, so please just cooperate and we’ll get through this. We’re late for your editor’s deadline, and if you think the flu is bad, wait ‘til she gets upset! And no, it’s certainly not hot in this room, in fact, I’m freezing! Are you ready to answer a few questions? If you’re polite, perhaps I’ll share a new bottle of Nyquil!
A: Why are you talking with an English accent? Is that Stewie Griffin, Ricky Gervais, or Johnny Rotten? It’s creepy. And where did you find my jacket?

Q: I’ll ask the questions. Let’s begin. You’ve offered presentations at prior TFM Forums and TFM Shows. How was the Spring TFM Forum different?
A: Well first of all, I really like the Forum format. The number of delegates, sponsors, and speakers is ideal for networking, and I consider that one of the greatest benefits of any industry event. I find huge value in meeting other facility managers (fms), comparing challenges, learning from each other, and staying in touch after the events. I think personal interaction can be more difficult at larger conferences.

Secondly, the Spring Forum was unique because it was tailored for institutional fm delegates (hospitals, schools, churches, assisted living, etc). Most fm events are heavily attended by commercial office fms.

Q: What were the Spring Forum highlights for you personally?
A: Wow. Tough question. I really enjoyed seeing the San Diego Navy Base and touring the USS Pinckney. With the “blame game” running rampant in government and in the private sector these days, it seems like character traits of integrity, honor, discipline, and accountability are increasingly rare. It was quite refreshing to meet professional sailors who honorably represent and selflessly serve our country each day.

It was also fascinating to consider that our Navy’s warships are essentially huge floating “facilities” donning incredibly sophisticated weaponry. Imagine taking a facility on a 10,000 mile journey and not having access to a hardware store or an external parts counter! Beyond classic facilities duties such as heating and cooling, food service, mail operations, dormitories, and IT infrastructure, sailors must be extremely resourceful in maintaining complex structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, power transmission, and fire protection systems. They must also be prepared for offensive and defensive combat operations and know how to handle fires, explosions, flooding, and casualties swiftly and skillfully—without getting seasick!

Q: Didn’t your father serve on an aircraft carrier?

A: Yes. How did you know that? Why is it now freezing in here? Who runs this place?

Q: Um…sorry, let’s just move on. Care to mention any other highlights from the Spring Forum?
A: Yes. I really enjoyed the interaction and conversations that followed my “Aggressive Utilities Management” presentation. Regardless of facility type, utilities represent an enormous expense for fms. And as I warned at the Forum, if anyone thinks electricity is expensive now, just wait and see what a carbon cap and trade scheme will do to energy prices. Time is of the essence for fms to make sure they understand how they consume and procure utilities—just like managing and controlling the costs of any other product or service in our budgets.

Let me guess. Are you going to ask about the 71 year old woman who engaged me in a political discussion at the Coronado Starbucks?

Q: Um…no, I heard about that but I was afraid to ask…

A: Well, there was no debate. I was a perfect gentleman. She explained what was wrong with the world, and I just listened, nodded respectfully, and sipped my coffee.

Q: Hmm…I’ll need to contact Jim Elledge to verify that story. Are you feeling any better? You look terrible.

A: No. In fact, my head feels like it’s in a vice, and I’m suddenly very hot again. I need a nap…who did you say you were? Do you have Nyquil? Is it the top shelf stuff with pseudoephedrine? Look, I’ve answered your questions now get away from my desk…and don’t touch my guitars!

Crane is a mechanical engineer and regional property manager with Childress Klein Properties, a leading real estate developer and property management services provider in the Southeast.