Ask an Expert on Maintenance


The expert advice to answer your most pressing questions. This month, Vanda Newman, the custodial supervisor at Colorado State University, shares advice on facility maintenance.

What goes into keeping the Student Recreation Center spotless?

VN: We prioritize what is the most important thing to hit first thing in the morning, and then we proceed from there. We are getting ready to do a transition where we can do more of the cleaning at night when there is no one in the building. That will help us be able to do a more detailed cleaning. Then we partnered with Hillyard in following the best practices of cleaning. They have been very helpful in solving some of our more major issues. For example, taking care of surfaces that we were unfamiliar with, like the Mondo flooring. That turned out to be a bit of a challenge at first, until we got a cycle down of how to take care of it. There is a lot of pre-planning, training and setting clear expectations for the staff, then following up to make sure those expectations are met.

What is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to facility maintenance?

VN: Working around people is the biggest challenge that we have. Trying to get to all the areas that are high traffic before the large population starts coming in. There is no way we could do any cleaning of this building during the evening hours when we have the most individuals in the building. But having the new graveyard shift will help because we are going to have quite a few hours to work when it is closed.

What is one important lesson you have learned when it comes to cleaning?

VN: We developed a green initiative over the years and had to change our products and processes to be able to become as green as possible. That has been a good learning process for us. Times change and as we move forward some of our processes will change, but the foundation for us is to do the best quality work that we can. That is our main objective. Set expectations and stick to them. As things change make sure everyone is on board at the same time. I am always looking for the best product we can get to achieve what we need to in the most economical way. We are still fiscally responsible to the students, because all of our funds come from student fees. So we need to get the biggest bang for our buck.

What advice would you give others who might want to improve their maintenance process?

VN: Be proactive rather than reactive. If you are proactive and plan everything, then you don’t have to be reactive. I don’t spend a lot of time putting out fires. I spend time anticipating the needs of my customer.

Emily Harbourne was a previous editor for Campus Rec Magazine.

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