Last month’s issue of TFM featured a brief glimpse into the happenings that took place at the TFM Show held from April 17-19 at Chicago’s famous Navy Pier. But that sneak peek couldn’t possibly capture all of the highlights of the 2007 event.
Celebrating a decade of success, this year’s Show was simply outstanding. It clearly exceeded the expectations of attendees by bringing them unsurpassed networking, education, and purchasing opportunities in three event filled days.
Exciting Networking Events
The 2007 TFM Show began with a facility tour in downtown Chicago. The site of this year’s tour—111 South Wacker Drive—was the first speculative high rise office building to earn LEED Gold Core and Shell certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
After a brief presentation and Q&A over lunch, attendees split up into three smaller groups to tour different areas of the building. The majority of tenants in 111 South Wacker Drive are professional firms, and the tour included a visit to two of these spaces. Attendees were able to walk with the facility manager of Deloitte through two of the 20 floors occupied by the accounting firm. Another tenant space made available for the tour was the law firm of Lord, Bissell & Brook, LLP.
Having the chance to view other facilities and the interior furnishings used to outfit the spaces was helpful to William A. Glass, J9 facilities manager, U.S. Joint Forces Command in Suffolk, VA. “The most interesting parts of the tour were the small group walk throughs,” he said. “Facts and figures don’t grab you like walking the hallways does. Seeing what other people used in their tenant spaces—furniture and light fixtures, for instance—was great.”
Noted Kay Gilson, administrative services manager at Oshkosh B’Gosh in Oshkosh, WI, “I was looking for design and decor ideas for our proposed upcoming office renovation. I was interested in anything from lighting options to collaborative spaces to flooring designs and options. I was also interested in LEED concepts and how I might bring some of those initiatives to an older, existing building like ours.”
In addition to the tenant occupied spaces, the tour guides brought attendees to the fitness center, one of the amenities in the building. At the other end of the spectrum (but of equal interest to facility management minded attendees) was the impromptu tour of the mechanical room on the 29th floor—a surprise highlight for those who requested it.
Said Dennis Lange, facilities manager at EECU, a credit union in Ft. Worth, TX, “The tour was a fantastic experience. I received a wealth of knowledge by walking through the building with the developer and the operations manager. They were able to answer many technical questions and unlock doors to secured areas.”
As the tour concluded, the group reassembled on the ground floor to reboard the bus. The lobby, enclosed by a suspended glass wall, lends a bright and airy atmosphere to the entrance of the building. One on side, several trees thrive in the environment. Commented Gilson, “The lobby was amazing!”
Said Glass, “I signed up for this tour before I knew anything about the building. I was just interested in hearing about another facility, since visiting a building and getting a feel for how it is built, run, and maintained gives insight into what other professionals are thinking about. This can very well be the next spark needed for change within your own organization.”
After the completion of the tour, a small group of attendees participated in a more informal networking event—food and fun in the form of pizza and comedy, Chicago style. With dinner at Marcello’s—a local tradition since 1947—guests whetted their appetites on thin crust pizza “made from scratch” in anticipation of “Between Barack and a Hard Place” at Second City comedy club.
Genuinely funny, the show is considered by both critics and audiences to be a big success in Chicago. Sid Smith, arts critic for the Chicago Tribune (5/20/07) wrote, “With ‘Barack,’ brilliantly directed by Matt Hovde, something clicked and everything came together—a bright cast, pungent commentary, and viable comic currency—to give us something we’d forgotten we missed: a classic Second City hit.
“The buzz on ‘Barack’ has already attracted the likes of actor Dennis Quaid, members of Obama’s political team, including key adviser David Axelrod, and former Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson.”
The buzz among TFM Show attendees was equally enthusiastic. Lee Locklear of Southfield, MI-based Maxitrol confessed, “I laughed my ~*#(@& off!” and had a great time networking at the event.
Another outstanding hit—both in terms of social networking and entertainment—came on Wednesday night at the Chicago White Sox/Texas Rangers baseball game. Ticket holders from the TFM Show witnessed a rare athletic accomplishment in the form of a no-hitter pitched by Chicago’s Mark Buehrle. An attendee from Bangor, ME commented, “Whoever scheduled the baseball game outing on the day that a no-hitter was pitched deserves mega kudos!”
Mega kudos were delivered on Wednesday evening to one facility management professional at the Fifth Annual Facility Executive of the Year (FEY) dinner. Recognized for excellence in the areas of innovation, management, pro-business impact, human improvements, and sustainability, this year’s recipient was Bill Coleman, associate vice president for facilities, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.
The program began with a humorous welcome from TFM Editor Heidi Schwartz. This was followed by a multimedia presentation outlining Coleman’s achievements, which easily won over the audience.
Impressively executed, Coleman’s master plan of 20 campus improvement, new construction, and expansion projects involved 193,135 square feet of building renovations. It spanned across 12 structures and four campus-wide infrastructure, technology, beautification, and deferred maintenance endeavors.
Many of Coleman’s colleagues, including his entire facilities management team, were eager to take part in this presentation. Gordie Herbst, the university’s vice president for finance and administration, made a surprise appearance at the dinner to present Coleman with his award and introduce him to the audience.
In his speech, Coleman said, “When I look back over the last 10 years at the body of work we have completed, it amazes me. I pulled out a list of projects from the master plan, began checking them off, and that is when it hit me that this team had really gotten a lot of work done.”
After his speech, Coleman was presented with the traditional green jacket by Susan Coene (executive publisher for Group C, the parent company of the TFM Group) and Stu Carron, last year’s Facility Executive of the Year and global director of corporate facilities and real estate for JohnsonDiversey in Sturtevant, WI.
One guest at the dinner, Joanne Katz, director of facilities for the Maynard, MA offices of Monster Worldwide, remarked, “You genuinely make all of us feel like what we do really matters. My goal now is to be nominated!”
While stellar networking opportunities were a high priority for many attendees, others were attracted to the TFM Show for its outstanding educational offerings. And with two blockbuster keynotes as the main attraction, attendees were both motivated and inspired. These sessions drew overwhelming crowds in a standing room only venue.
Wednesday’s session, “What Keeps You Up At Night—Solving FM Challenges: An Interactive Keynote Discussion,” was a follow-up to last year’s successful keynote, “Today’s Facility Manager—Tomorrow.” In 2006, the panel zeroed in on the most pressing issues faced by today’s facility managers while panelists shared their predictions for the future.
With the repeat sponsorship of Kimberly-Clark Professional, the 2007 session updated last year’s message and added an extremely popular interactive component. This aspect allowed the audience to be part of the keynote through real time automatic response devices.
Polled on the key problems they face in terms of energy, the environment, project management, safety, and security, the crowd actually decided which issues were the most important to them, and the conversation was guided, with the deft leadership of moderator Tim Springer, president and founder of HERO, Inc., based in Geneva, IL, in whichever direction the audience dictated. Maria Vickers, operations manager for Workscape, Inc. said, “The question/voting format was very effective to address the issues that are priorities with this audience, and the panel was balanced and informative,” and another attendee reiterated, “Good idea using the voting device!”
Occurring just two days after the shootings at Virginia Tech, this session was dominated by the themes of increasing safety and security. With his experience in a university environment, Coleman spoke stirringly in the wake of this crisis.
During the keynote, audience members felt free to jump into the discussion, ask questions, and impart their own advice. One such person was Amanda Talsma, corporate services manager for Lakeview Technology, headquartered in Oakbrook Terrace, IL, who added her own recommendations. She addressed the difficulty that many facility managers have in convincing building occupants to observe fire alarms. Talsma advised facility managers to contact their local fire department and strike up a deal where departments are fined $500 for every occupant who does not leave the premises during a drill. The fine goes to the local fire department.
“The unfortunate part,” said Talsma, “is this is the only way to get people to take their safety seriously. It has been very effective.”
It is precisely this type of networking and sharing between facility managers that the keynotes were created to foster.
The second keynote served as an inspiration to all who attended. The session speaker was Keni Thomas, a member of the group of Army Rangers whose mission in Mogadishu, Somalia inspired the movie “Black Hawk Down.” Thomas, a gifted speaker and storyteller, took the audience through his experience that terrible day with poignant humor and ceaseless energy.
Thomas included messages in his speech, such as “fail to train, train to fail,” and “better to have and not need, than to need and not have,” that could be applied in many situations. He stressed the importance of training, planning, and leadership. In the end, after a rousing standing ovation, what most audience members took away with them was a renewed sense of purpose and inspiration.
Bill Powell, facilities manager for Naperville, IL-based Calamos Real Estate LLC, commented, “I’ve been to a lot of these, and he is definitely one of the better keynote speakers I’ve heard. He was fantastic.”
Richard Smith, senior project manager-Visio, from Redmond, WA-based Microsoft, presented Thomas and later remarked, “I think Keni delivered a very powerful keynote. The tales of his experience in the field were both entertaining and enlightening. It made the audience really think of the qualities of leadership required by us all.”
As with the interactive first keynote, attendees were able to tailor their overall learning experience with a wide selection of classes offered in eight different tracks. These included applied management; building envelope and exteriors; energy and the environment; interiors; healthcare spotlight; safety; security; and technology and engineering.
From the time the educational conference doors opened until they closed, the sessions were well attended. While every area of expertise was carefully pored over by speaker and listener alike, many facility managers came to the show with a specific purpose.
As mentioned, the Virginia Tech shootings were on the minds of many who hoped to turn the horrific incident into a positive lesson in creating more secure facilities. Attendee Powell said, “I’m learning the most about the newest security information out there. With recent events, you have to keep up with the latest information.”
Security issues were examined in classes that included “Creating a Workplace Violence Awareness Program” and “Building a Security Plan from the Ground Up.” After one of these sessions an attendee remarked, “We need more information of this caliber.”
Green subjects were also of specific importance for many attendees. Matt Guarnery, construction manager for LakeCounty, headquartered in Waukegan, IL, noted, “My main focus is on the green components of the show. Our board has expressed interest in going ‘green’ in our construction.”
There were a host of classes to meet this need. These included “The Reality of the Cost—and Benefits—of Green” and “Moving Toward Renewable Energy.”
A popular session in this track was “Achieving Environmental Stewardship in Sustainable Design,” co-presented by Henning Bloech, manager, environmental initiatives for Kennesaw, GA-based INVISTA and Neal Angrisano, facility manager, Johnson County, KS. Of this class, Brian Morken, facility manager with the Naval Ocean Processing Facility Whidbey Island commented, “Excellent presentations by both! Best session by far”—a sentiment expressed by attendees of many classes this year.
The healthcare spotlight was a new addition to the comprehensive educational program. Constance Nestor, director of facilities and construction for Advocate Healthcare, headquartered in Oak Brook, IL, conducted a session concerning “Healthcare Interiors: Trends in Critical Care Environment Planning,” which prompted attendees to say, “It’s great to have a speaker with passion for her work,” and “This session contained a lot of good information.”
The LonMark Americas Tour Program—a series of five classes specifically geared to the needs of attendees pursuing integrated building automation systems—was another new educational offering this year. Heather Deal, marketing communications liaison for LonMark Americas said, “We were very impressed with the quality of attendees at the TFM Show. From the well attended LonMark educational sessions to the many visitors at the LonMark booth, it became quite clear that the event draws very qualified buildings professionals and serious heavy hitters whose goal it is to find and implement innovative facility management solutions.”
Enthusiasm In The Exhibit Hall
Facility management solutions filled the exhibit hall, which opened on Wednesday, April 18 immediately after the interactive keynote concluded. Attendees, many of whom who had taken part in classes that morning, poured onto the show floor to view the 160 exhibits.
They were also treated to another addition to the hall—education on the show floor. In the Learning Pool, hosted by the Alliance for Sustainable Built Environments, small classes were offered on topics most requested by past attendees: sustainability, mentoring, and career development.
Ted Coene, founder of the TFM Show and executive director of events for Group C Communications, noted that the addition of the Learning Pool this year made the exhibit hall even more valuable to facility professionals. “Many attendees,” he said, “commented on the excellent networking and career development opportunities available, as well as the wide range of facility management solutions on display in the exhibit hall.”
The facility professionals on the show floor were equally prepared to shop the booths, view demonstrations, and ask questions. This became clear to many of the exhibitors from the start.
“We’re very happy with the attendees we are meeting at the trade show,” said John Costa, vice president of Interface Services, located in Acworth, GA. “We feel that they are quality people who know the business and know what they’re looking for.”
“Our exhibitors were thrilled with the quality of attendees they met,” said Susan Coene. “Many secured future sales meetings right on the show floor. The TFM Show delivers the key buyers to our exhibitors, and those buyers were ready to spend money.”
On that first day of the exhibit hall, a group of facility managers walked the show floor as judges for the TFM Best Of Show competition. Thirty-six products and services were entered into the competition, and anonymous judges evaluated their assigned categories as they walked the show floor.
The entries spanned six categories this year: Building Envelope, Energy and the Environment, Interiors, Safety, Security, and Technology and Engineering. Judges evaluated four criteria as they related to facility management needs: product application; supporting marketing materials; product demonstration; and product appeal. Bonus points were given for sustainable features.
The winning Best Of Show entries were announced by Susan Coene prior to the keynote address on Thursday morning, after which, Thomas was available at the Microsoft Office Visio 2007 booth to sign CDs of his debut album, pose for photos, and exchange a few congratulatory words (pictured below, far right).
And as the second day of the trade show swung into gear, attendees continued to visit the array of exhibitors in order to gather information about how the products and services on the floor might work for their facilities.
Speaking on the show floor, Dona Garcia, customer projects administrator at Solar Integrated in Los Angeles, CA, said, “We were very pleased with the results of the show, including the quality of the leads and the level of interest in our products. We were able to discuss the unique opportunities we can bring to the facility maintenance arena. We anticipate participating in this show again next year as the knowledge of renewable energy in the sector continues to grow.”
While making connections with facility professionals qualified to make purchasing decisions, a number of exhibitors also recognized that the attendees hailed from everywhere.
Said Andrea Rohleder, marketing manager, A&D at Kimball Office in Jasper, IN, “We made a lot of contacts who may have opportunities for us coming up in their facilities—not necessarily from the Chicago area, but from all over the country.”
Ken Minkowski, account executive, mechanical sales for Siemens Building Technologies in Mount Prospect, IL, added, “We’re meeting a lot of different people from locations all over the United States as well as those who do business with Siemens around the world. It was nice to position ourselves to meet with all the different facilities managers and let them know we’re here and that we support them. We’re excited to be a part of this show. Navy Pier is a very attractive location.”
The wide variety of exhibitors, coupled with the quality of facility professionals, fostered many beneficial exchanges, whether it was making a purchase or learning about a specific facility challenge. In describing his experience, Eric Hasselbusch, vice president business development at D.C. Taylor Company in Cedar Rapids, IA, said, “There’s a high quality of attendees here. We have seen significant interest in preventive roof maintenance, with attendees trying to find qualified contractors they can trust. Many are interested in learning more about what they can do to extend the life of their roofs.”
Whether talking to exhibitors or attending a session in the Learning Pool on the show floor, those facility professionals who took time away from their buildings to attend the TFM Show this year encountered an exhibit hall full of activity. “At trade shows, I am focused on the products and services that are on display—specifically how they can make my job easier or the life of our students better,” explained TFM 2007 FEY Coleman. “When you call the facilities office and tell my secretary that you talked to me at the TFM Show, you have just opened the gates. Trade shows are important!” he exclaimed.
Another repeat attendee specifically wrote in to express his appreciation. “I just want to say thank you for the great TFM Show I attended. Not only did I learn a number of interesting facts from the numerous classes offered, or find a wide variety of vendors whom I can use in the future for a number of pending issues, but the networking I was able to perform with my peers turned out to be the most profitable. One of the classmates I met became a friend, and after a series of interviews, a coworker. I will be starting with one of the largest property management companies in the world at the end of this month, and I owe it all to the TFM Show. Thanks for the opportunities that the show has presented to me.”
Clearly, TFM Show participants left the show ready to apply what they had learned about facility management—both in the form of career development and product solutions. And whether it was their first TFM Show—or they’ve been coming for years—attendees plan to return.