Special Report: Energy Ran High As The Industry Met In Chicago

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By Anne Vazquez
Published in the June 2008 issue of
Today’s Facility Manager

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Attendees at the 2008 TFM Show in Chicago spent their time in a variety of ways. The exhibit hall offered the opportunity to visit with suppliers, while educational sessions and off-site events facilitated additional learning and networking.

attendees are once again anticipating a world class event. From April 22-24, 2008, fms will have the opportunity to build their own educational programs and explore the world of facility management (FM) products and services in one of the most dynamic exhibit halls in the country.

The 2008 TFM Show in Chicago took place April 22-24 and marked the event’s 11th year. With a show floor filled with exhibitors offering a wide variety of facility management (FM) products and services, a conference program designed for facility managers’ (fms) pressing needs, and networking and professional development activities throughout, the three day event created a plethora of opportunities.

As in past years, those who attended the TFM Show traveled from around the country to take part in the exciting industry event. Forty four states were represented in the attendee base; the five with the highest headcount were Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Facility professionals from seven countries also traveled to the event at Chicago’s Navy Pier.

The TFM Show kicked off with a facility tour of the John G. Shedd Aquarium. The national historic landmark, opened in 1934, houses nearly 22,000 aquatic animals in 422,000 square feet. TFM Show attendees were given a behind the scenes guided tour from several members of the aquarium’s facilities team. Susan Barton, facilities director there, was instrumental in facilitating the tour, which included an inspection of the filtration areas, the operations center, and the boiler plant.

That evening, a number of attendees then participated in a ticketed networking event that included several things the Windy City is well known for-Chicago style pizza, live jazz, and a “gangster tour” of its former underworld.

Networking was also in play at a major league baseball game the next evening, as some TFM Show attendees and exhibitors headed to U.S. Cellular Field to watch the Chicago White Sox meet the New York Yankees. A series between the teams was in its second game, and the Yankees won the game (as they had the night before), 6-4.

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Down To Business

Attendees devoted their attention to work when the educational conference sessions and exhibit hall opened on Wednesday. Classes began bright and early with a variety of relevant and timely topics organized into seven tracks: Applied Management, Building Envelope and Exteriors, Energy and the Environment, Interiors, Safety, Security, and Technology and Engineering.

One of the technology classes held that morning, “The Third Wave of Facility Technologies,” was a hit with many of the attendees. As Orlando Davis, director of facilities at the Graduate School at the USDA, put it, the session’s speaker, Tom Condon of SDI Chicago (and TFM Facility Technologist columnist), provided “just the right level of detail to send the fm off in the right direction.”

Enhancing the conference program was an alliance with five industry associations, which enabled attendees to earn continuing education credits. BOMI International, IFMA, IDCEC, AIA, and CEFPI awarded credits to those who verified their attendance in TFM Show classes.

The Chicago chapter of IFMA held a seminar that morning. Meanwhile, LonMark launched its suite of five seminars at the show, which culminated in certification testing for facility professionals on April 24.

After morning conference sessions, the TFM Show’s first keynote took place in a packed room. Sponsored for the third consecutive year by Kimberly-Clark Professional, the keynote, “Facility Managers And Critical Operations: Disaster Recovery Beyond Emergency Response,” was an interactive session where attendees in seats equipped with polling devices could cast votes on questions posed.

Heidi Schwartz, editor and co-publisher of TFM magazine, moderated the discussion, which included four panelists: Martha Campbell, director at Baker, Robbins & Company; Charles D’Agostino, executive director, Louisiana Business & Technology Center; Patrick Fiel, a public safety advisor and consultant, ADT Security Services; and David Regelbrugge, manager at ENVIRON.

One of the questions posed was: “What is the most serious environmental threat your facility faces?” Seven choices were offered, and contamination by a serious infectious disease (e.g. Avian Flu, MRSA, Legionella) garnered 39% of the vote, while OSHA inspections came in at the bottom (3%). While not necessarily representative of all fms, the poll results did give insight into what is on the minds of many. The unscripted aspect of the session, which hinged on audience response, made for an interesting and candid exchange of ideas.

When the keynote concluded, the TFM Show exhibit hall opened, and attendees flocked to the floor to see the variety of products and services on display. Incorporated into the exhibits, and a first in 2008, was the Construction Zone, where vendors involved in construction activities displayed their offerings. As many facility professionals become more deeply involved in that aspect of their organization’s operations, the TFM Show identified the need for a dedicated zone.

Another popular place on the show floor was just inside the entrance at the Microsoft Corporation booth. The software provider conducted presentations of its Office Visio 2007 and Office Project 2007 products during the show, with industry veteran (and TFM Tricks Of The Trade columnist) Jim Elledge presenting. Attendees packed the booth to watch Elledge demonstrate how the software might apply to their facilities.

Joy Kasel, senior enterprise product manager-EPM/Project /Visio; US IW Business Management, with Microsoft, said, “The attendees had a sense of purpose. They were there to evaluate solutions and make decisions. Most spent a healthy amount of time in our booth asking questions, viewing live demonstrations, and evaluating our software and partner solutions.”

As attendees browsed the exhibits and stopped to talk with vendors, many participated in the TFM Show “Blueprint For Success” quiz. The contest challenged attendees to discover answers to questions about the products or services of participating exhibitors. The contest offered cash prizes for three lucky attendees who submitted correct answers on their completed entry forms.

Participating exhibitors in the quiz were DENTCO, International Association of Heat & Frost Insulators-Local 17, Johnson Controls, Inc., Lencore Sound Masking & Acoustics, Microsoft Corporation, Primex Wireless, Inc., ServiceMaster Restoration by VVV, and TFM Tube (a video portal for fms, which debuted at the show).

As the 2008 TFM Show drew to a close, entrants in the “Blueprint For Success” quiz gathered at the contest booth. After entries were checked, three winners were randomly chosen by show staff.

Ben Mankin, maintenance director for Rutherford County, Tennessee took the largest cash prize of $1,500. Russell Schaefer, DHS assistant chief engineer with the Illinois Department of Human Services won $750, and Ray Spriggs, assistant vice president, administrative services for Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company in Grinnell, IA took third prize of $250.

For the second year, the TFM Show offered mentoring sessions focused on facility professionals in specific fields-healthcare, education, government, property management, and manufacturing. Located in a dedicated space just off the show floor, these 30 minute sessions were led by an expert in each field and consisted of discussions about the issues encountered in those categories.

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The Exchange Of Ideas Continues

A second keynote, “Achieving Excellence In Facility Management,” took place the morning of April 24 and featured Neal Angrisano, TFM’s 2008 Facility Executive of the Year (FEY). Angrisano, deputy director of facilities management for Johnson County, Kansas was recognized as TFM’s sixth FEY in the January 2008 issue of magazine; this event enabled him to talk about the project instrumental to his being chosen. But before Angrisano began, he was presented with the FEY tradition of receiving a clock and green jacket. These were presented by David Parrish, architecture and design liaison for the Washington, DC area office of DIRTT Environmental Solutions, which sponsored the award.

After thanking TFM and DIRTT, Angrisano turned to the matter at hand-sharing his views on what it takes to succeed as an fm. In the profession for 10 years, he brought an interesting perspective, since he had also worked as an architect for more than 10 years prior to taking his current position.

In discussing the project for which he was nominated for the FEY award, Angrisano talked about the goals set forth by the construction of a LEED-NC Gold office building (known as Sunset Drive). One point he made clear was that the work of fms focuses on people and how they are affected by their surroundings. He noted that incorporating “green” aspects into his buildings may sometimes be a challenge, but the benefits are far reaching.

This was the first time that the FEY speech was shared with the entire TFM Show audience. In previous years, the clock and jacket presentation had been conducted at an invitation only dinner. The full room at the keynote was a testament to the fact that attendees wanted to hear from one of their successful peers.

The exhibit hall was once again the site of a number of special events. The Mentoring Sessions held the previous day were swapped out for Career Development sessions, designed for fms at the beginning, intermediate, and advanced stages of their careers. Pepe Alicea, FMA, RPA, was the instructor for each of the informal sessions.

Attendees discussed undergraduate and graduate degree programs for the profession and also learned about various FM associations and the certification programs they offer. Alicea, corporate facilities director for Colorado Springs, CO-based Compassion International, presented this information and spoke with attendees about their options in applying these resources to their careers.

This was the second year URETEK ICR Northern US of Houston exhibited at the TFM Show, and Paul Morgan, COO there, shared these comments: “Once again, the show has exceeded our expectations in terms of the number of quality contacts we were able to make. By attending the TFM Show, we are able to get the word out about what we do and how we do it to the exact target market that needs to use our services.”

Dave Kagan of Details, a Steelcase Company, in Grand Rapids, MI, also spent time at his booth educating fms about one of the company’s products. The Walkstation, a combination desk/treadmill, was new to many attendees, and they stopped to learn more about exercising while working at a desk.

“This is our second year exhibiting at the TFM Show,” said Kagan, director of marketing, communications, and product launch for Details. “We’re back because it was a good show for us last year, and it’s going to reinforce this year. Facilities people are the lifeblood of our customer base, so we’re glad to be talking to them and having productive conversations.”

Finding new solutions extended to the continuing interest in sustainability in the industry. Sandy Buettner, marketing communications program manager for Johnson Controls of Milwaukee, WI, observed, “There is a real interest in ‘green’ and sustainability. And it keeps growing every year.”

Buettner continued, “The quality of the leads we received this year from the show, and the interest for that matter, was probably one of the best I’ve seen at TFM. Also, several of the attendees commented on how they enjoyed the speakers at the sessions.” Sustainability and cost saving measures were important to Kurt Jokela, supervisor, building maintenance for the department of building management for Collier County, Florida. He sought out exhibitors and classes related to those topics. “The classes are very good,” he said. “We’re all looking to be ‘green.’ We also have to learn how to manage in lean times. It has been very helpful to see where everybody else is coming from, so we can share with other professionals.”

Noting the state of the economy, Jokela added, “As a result of what I learned at the TFM Show, I plan to do a better job managing funding we have available to get through this fiscal year-and to get to the next fiscal year, which will be even tighter.” Kimberly Scott-Eskridge of Walgreens Corporation was also looking for cost reduction strategies at the TFM Show. A first time attendee, she handles 300 retail buildings as a regional facilities manager in Deerfield, IL.

“I am looking for cost saving measures, as well as information that will make me more effective,” she explained. “I’ve learned about ways to structure my time, and the [class] instructors provided tidbits I can bring back to my job.”

The 2008 TFM Show was the place for FM professionals to see the latest in the industry, while networking with peers, vendors, and associations. There was truly something for everyone. As John Grabowski, chief engineer for Greenleaf Hospitality Group of Kalamazoo, MI, said: “It was well worth the time spent. There was awesome content for the beginning fm to the advanced fm.”

The TFM Show offerings will continue next year, but this will be under the purview of the event’s new owner. In late April, Group C Media, parent company of the TFM Show, announced the sale of the show to Hanley Wood, LLC, based in Washington, DC. (The transaction did not involve TFM magazine, TFM Forum, or any other Group C asset.)

In 2009, the TFM magazine staff will work with Hanley Wood to ensure that quality remains a hallmark of this event during transition. The show will co-locate with Hanley Wood’s annual CONSTRUCT event, scheduled for June 17-19 in Indianapolis, IN. Susan Coene, publisher of TFM magazine and co-president of Group C Media, said, “We are excited to have our show as a part of the CONSTRUCT family in 2009.”

Of the sale, Ted Coene, Group C Media co-president, said, “The facility managers who attend The TFM Show will now have the opportunity to network with architects, engineers, specifiers, and general contractors at CONSTRUCT, and our exhibitors will gain access to a wider audience that is responsible for the entire life cycle of the building environment-from design and construction to maintenance and operations.” The energy felt at the 2008 TFM Show in Chicago was a fitting way to cap its presence in the Windy City. Facility professionals can look forward to building on these experiences at CONSTRUCT in 2009 and beyond.

For information on the next TFM event, to be held in November 2008, visit www.tfmforum.com.

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