Mark Ford, Maintenance
Suite Living Senior Care, Twin Cities
Senior Living Facilities Management Wasn’t Part Of The Plan
Despite Mark having a fondness for his grandparents when he was younger, senior living was not part of his planning when he started in the trades in the late 1980’s.
Mark spent over 30 years in new construction HVAC including field supervision of up to 80 employees for a time. Regardless of his experience and ability, the economic pressures of the pandemic forced many contractors out of the industry including Mark’s employer in 2022. Suddenly he was suddenly at a crossroad.
The timing wasn’t bad as Mark had been thinking he had had about enough of the physical grind in the field every day. But the question was, what would he turn to?
Serendipity Sometimes Needs a Nudge
Meanwhile, Mark’s wife was a nurse at Suite Living. Knowing the company’s rapid growth she didn’t blink when the maintenance director asked if she knew of a maintenance guy. She asked Mark if he thought that would work for him. And though he said he needed some time to think about it she knew how good he’d be at it.
Mark soon agreed but the thought of resume writing, applying and interviewing was not welcome. Not to worry as Mark’s wife has already put the resume together for him to review and approve. Oh, and she’d already submitted it. Eventually it all worked out and a new beginning was upon him and he became the third man on the maintenance staff.
Maintenance Is A Many Splendored Thing
Good building maintenance is a catch all for all the construction skills. Mark came to it with the right mindset and background. After the first couple days visiting sites to survey the buildings and see what tools and supplies he would need Mark said “I guarantee my buildings will look the best!” The maintenance director knew he had the right guy.
Combining Needs of Building and Residents Came Naturally
As encountering residents began, Mark’s old fondness for his grandparents kicked in to help him make the most of that side of the work. It was a welcome trade off from the physical demands of field work.
“I was kind of excited about engaging with the residents and do so as often as possible.” Mark explained. “I make a particular effort to make time for those who don’t get any visitors.” Mark then added “I told myself “Don’t get too attached”, but then I met Joe.”
“Joe” approached Mark his first day in one of the communities and asked if he could help. Mark involved him in the maintenance work, and a relationship began. The talk was a lot of sports both local and pro, old and new. But the real deal was the reciprocity. Joe found new purpose and Mark gained a fatherly friend. As things go, Joe passed six months later. It was tough but very much worth it.
Senior Living Is Not A Building, It’s Home
“This is everyone’s home. I do the work to keep it looking and feeling that way. Families pay a lot of money and I want them to see the value!” Mark enthused.
The regular tasks are the touch ups. Paint, carpet and furniture care is a drumbeat. Then there are mechanical issues. The recent sub-zero stretch froze venting on water heaters in the buildings. The teamwork of the maintenance staff kept each other’s regular duties on track while extra time was given to fixing the freeze ups.
Sometimes it takes a little “parenting” to remind residents it is everyone’s home and everyone needs to help with that. Staff are good about accepting Mark’s suggestions to aid in the effort. “As ‘fix friendly’ as the buildings are, it’s always better to work smarter than harder” Mark added.
Mark’s work includes a lot of resident contact. “They know I’ll do anything for them to help them feel at home,” Mark concluded. And given Mark’s spirit he sees and reports to staff when he catches something that may be off with a resident.
“Residents always look for Mark and enjoy “helping” him. He can fix anything, and he supports his fellow maintenance guys by offering advice and support. Mark always goes above and beyond to build relationships with staff and residents.” Heather Thompson, LALD, Housing Director, Inver Grove Heights
“We appreciate Mark’s willingness to answer any questions we have; he always has a positive attitude and he always gets the job done. He is a very kind person and we love him.” Manu Togbah, Housing Director, Shakopee