Interview With YWCA Facilities Director Mark Rives

admin Building Maintenance Services, Commercial, Pre-Disaster Planning

Facility management tips and tricks from a pro.

Mark Rives, facilities director for St. Louis’ YWCA, has been working in the facility management field for decades. As a facilities director for one of the largest non-profits in our region, he has developed a number of best practices that allow his organization to save time and money.

What does your role entail on a day-to-day basis?

On a day-to-day basis, it’s always an adventure. We never know. I plan the day, but then we always have problems that will arise. Sometimes it’s smaller things, like a clogged toilet or broken paper towel dispenser, but we also work on larger construction projects. We just completed a $1.6 million renovation of a facility off of West Florissant. And we work on the challenges of preventative maintenance, disaster planning and security – especially with what’s going on with school shootings right now.

What are common misconceptions about facility management?

That it’s easy. or that facility management doesn’t produce revenue. We save revenue by way of preventative maintenance.

How do you stay calm and sane?

I think I learned that in the military, when I was younger. I was in the Coast Guard and did search and rescue on the West Coast. There are a lot of quick decisions that need to be made, and you just have to stay focused.

As we move into the rainy season, what are important preparations facility managers can make?

For us, the preparation really starts in the fall. Here is our checklist:

  • Conduct roof inspections to be sure the building has watertight integrity.
  • Clean gutters; make sure there are no leaks and they drain properly.
  • Check windows and weather stripping.
  • Change the filters on HVAC units and run them for about 10-15 minutes to make sure the heat will work when it gets cold.
  • Weather-proof all outside water faucets.
  • Check sprinkler pipes and monitor temperatures, so they don’t thaw when it warms up and burst.