Gold Circle Award Profile: Alex Hales

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Alex Hales, Security Director with Hines at the Citadel Center, is the recipient of BOMA/Chicago’s 2017 Security Professional of the Year Award.

How did you get involved in the security industry?

After my service in the U.S. Marines, I remained in Yuma, Arizona, writing technical reports for military testing contractors. An opportunity came to work armed access control at the Army base, and I’ve been involved in the security industry ever since.

What is one of the biggest security risks for which commercial office buildings should be prepared?

Active shooter. Our newer high rises are very well equipped with sprinkler heads and flame resistant materials, and fire/smoke events have become more rare. The active shooter situation has become an increasingly likely situation in recent years.

What are some of the unique security challenges facing security directors/property management teams today in commercial office buildings and which tools are most effective in addressing them?

Keeping young, talented, and quality personnel in the industry. At one time, security was considered a viable vocation by those who had other options they could pursue. In recent years, the amount of people who choose this industry for the long haul has become increasingly rare, and keeping them in place has become more difficult as competitive wages continue to rise in other service industries. In order to address this, companies must focus on mentoring young talent to keep them engaged, as well as creating an environment where promotion from within is encouraged. This will contribute in motivating officers to continue to strive for more than just the status quo. Promotion from within, continuous training, and exposure to the many security opportunities that are available are challenges that can be used to keep and motivate talented officers.

You have established direct relationships with the Chicago Police Department commander, CPD SWAT teams and other first responder departments. What advice can you share with our members about forging and maintaining similar relationships?

Meet with them! They are all very approachable, and willing to establish relationships with the private sector. These relationships are critical for both parties as they serve to establish a uniform approach in the event of crisis.

You have developed a partnership with SWAT to educate your tenants about workplace violence and the importance of developing related plans and protocol. How did you roll out this program and how did you engage your tenants?

We started active shooter drills about 5 years ago, and found out a couple of years later that SWAT was willing to perform presentations at buildings. Once a presentation was done by Captain Marianovich a few years back, it helped our tenants to see the impact an active shooter situation could have in their space. We also set up meetings and walked the tenant spaces to help those who were new to the program to identify potential shelter in place locations for the active shooter scenario. Once the active shooter drill was completed, we would send evaluations of each individual tenant’s effort and provide recommendations to fix any potential issues that arose, or congratulate them on a job well done. All of this is a continuous effort to provide our tenants with direction in responding in an active shooter environment, and assist the fire safety teams in confidently responding in their protocol.

How do you see emerging technology changing security in commercial office buildings?

I think a lot of that will depend on the tenants in the office building. There are scenarios where personnel can be substituted with technology, due to ever improving camera technology in the past five years. However, there will be buildings that need someone to be on site to take care of the tenants, contractors, and guests of a building.

As an active member of BOMA/Chicago’s Security Committee, what are some of the benefits you’ve gained from this committee and from fellow members?

Networking and partnering with BOMA/Chicago. Having access to the Chicago Public Private Task Force has been a great experience, and the knowledge and resources provided through the security committee has been invaluable. This relationship always provides insight into what the emergency responders are looking for and what they will need in the event of an emergency.

Can you share more details about how you use video as a training tool with your team to educate and develop your security team?

Video is a very important tool in training officers. One of the resources we are a big fan of is taking a situation an officer was involved in, good or bad, and reviewing it with that officer on video. This gives officers a different perspective on how a situation was handled and can provide a different perspective on how it could have been done better, if the situation called for it. Providing this type of direction while it is still fresh on an officer’s mind can be a great tool for improving performance.

You have greatly expanded your security team at your building while at the same developing a cohesive, committed staff. What’s your secret to successful team building?

I believe the servant leadership model of management is important to the success of a security staff. Leaders of a staff have to take the position of, “what tools do you need in order to get your job done properly”. This requires a certain level of transparency, and a great deal of delegation; you can’t do it all yourself, and at some point you have to trust your staff to get the job done on their own. Allow them room to fail, as long as it’s not catastrophic. You have to empower those you hire to get the job done, and hold them accountable when adjustments need to be made to their performance. This creates a more transparent, partnering atmosphere on a staff, which ultimately leads to officer growth. A leader’s job is to get everyone to shoulder their portion of the mission to get the job done, and at the end of the task, they remain motivated and ready for the next challenge. Productive relationships and mentoring are borne in this type of atmosphere.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

Good question! I’ve been fortunate to travel many places, and honestly, anywhere warm, picturesque and with nice people is a great place to go!

What do you do for fun when you’re not working?

I’m a father of three:  a 31 year old, a 22 year old, and an 11 year old. I honestly love spending time with my kids. I enjoy hearing them talk about their trek through life and their experiences. My greatest joy is being there for them!

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Gold Circle Award Profile: Jeff Bryski

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Jeff Bryski, Chief Engineer with Sterling Bay at 111 North Canal, is the recipient of BOMA/Chicago’s 2017 Building Engineer of the Year Award.

You started your career as a Boiler Technician with the United States Navy. How did your six years of service in the U.S. Navy help you succeed throughout your career?

Besides leadership skills, two of the main things I learned in the U.S. Navy were to follow direction and pay attention to detail. Be aware of what’s going on around you and not have tunnel vision.  Another thing is to face problems head on.  One thing you learn very quickly aboard a ship is that there is no place to run or no one to call, so taking care of problems before they become a disaster is a must.  I pass this training along to my staff to help detect minor problems before they get out of hand and to ensure smooth operation of the building.

You led your engineering team through a massive two-year redevelopment project involving $80 million in capital improvements and over 500,000 square feet of demolition and new construction. What’s your secret to effectively managing contractors and project details while simultaneously keeping your tenants happy?

Communication! There were many meetings with the contractors and the tenants.  We not only had to keep the tenants comfortable, we also had to keep them safe – especially during the lobby renovation. Listening to and addressing the tenant concerns were priorities.

Contractors will be contractors.  Keeping the noise down was probably the biggest task.  We tried to schedule the noisiest work before or after hours but you always have one that tries to sneak it in.  All in all things went relatively smooth and we are all (tenants included) very happy with the end result.

Your building recently obtained LEED Platinum certification. What are some best practices you can share with other property management teams about how to achieve this highly esteemed certification?

Run the building as efficiently as possible:

  • Check and maintain start and stop times for the air handling units, chillers and lighting per lease language.
  • Maintain equipment by scheduling  preventative maintenance to ensure the equipment is running at optimal efficiency.
  • Retrofit lighting especially emergency lighting to T8 and LED.
  • Install variable frequency drives where possible; we installed them on all of our air handling units and cooling towers.
  • Always look for low-cost, no-cost ways to improve efficiency.

Tell us about how you’ve worked with tenants to effectively address and/or reduce some of the most common complaints.

Hot and cold calls are the most common complaints. When we get a new tenant I like to go meet them to explain how the HVAC system works.  We go over how to control the temperature in the space via thermostats for the variable air volume controllers and baseboard heat. If the adjustments the tenants make don’t satisfy them then a work order is placed and it is promptly addressed within 15 minutes. We make a point to check back to make sure they are satisfied with the adjustments we made.

Your building was honored with the BOMA local and regional TOBY award last year and again won both TOBYs this year. What advice would you give to other engineers about how to prepare for and winning a TOBY?

Take pride in your building. The condition and operation of the building is a direct reflection of yourself and your team. Go above and beyond of what’s expected of you and remember a first impression is a lasting impression.

What’s your pet peeve?

Things not being put back where they belong.

What’s the #1 item on your bucket list?

Renting an RV and traveling around this great country of ours.

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Gold Circle Award Profile: Freddy Flores

Freddy Flores picFreddy Flores, Business Development Manager at Thyssenkrupp Elevator, is the recipient of BOMA/Chicago’s 2017 Affiliate Member of the Year Award.

What service does your company provide and what benefits do they offer to the commercial real estate industry?

Thyssenkrupp provides elevator maintenance, repair, modernization and installation services. We keep elevators running efficiently, reliably and safely, as we know it is of the utmost importance to you and your tenants. We offer the ability to design around the aesthetics of your unique building, provide tenant security and even help you conserve energy.

You’ve been in the elevator industry over 24 years. What are some trends you’ve seen come and go in this industry and what changes have had the greatest impact?

Technology has taken over our industry – Nowadays you tell the elevator where you are going and it takes you there without you having to press any buttons inside the elevators. The buildings are getting taller so elevators need to go higher and faster. Also, as densification trends continue and the number of people working in buildings increases, elevators will have to respond faster.

How are BOMA/Chicago events important to you and your company and what are your favorite events?

Events are extremely important to me because they allow me the opportunity to stay connected with existing and, of course, prospective clients. I have a few favorite events. From a fun perspective I enjoy the golf event. I believe the best networking event is the Annual Meeting because of the high level of executive property management personnel that attend the event. All the Emerging Leader events allow me to meet the up and coming leaders in the industry. Also, the Diversity Celebration provides the opportunity for companies to demonstrate their commitment to diversity.

What special interests and/or hobbies do you have?

I like to work out in order to de-stress from the daily work life. I also enjoy playing golf.

What would surprise our members most about you?

I am been in this industry for such a long time, considering the fact that I am fairly young. I am also very spiritual and always looking to help and connect people.

You have noted the importance of mentors in your life, and have served as a mentor to others. How important have these mentorship relationships been to you over the years and how have they helped you progress in your career?

I absolutely believe in mentoring opportunities. I have served in both roles as a mentor and mentee. Anyone who wants to grow professionally and develop and refine their skills would benefit greatly. To ensure an effective relationship, you need to determine what you want from your mentee or mentor and be transparent with your mentor or mentee about those expectations.

You left a Fortune  500 company to take on the challenge of starting a new business venture. As a small business owner, what were some of the challenges you faced and what were some of your most valuable experiences/takeaways?

Business ownership comes with pressures and challenges. As an entrepreneur you wear many hats, but as the business grows, it’s very important to identify which one of those hats need to be turned over to others so you can scale the business.

The biggest challenge was to attract and grow the customer base. Everyone knew me and trusted me but as you may not know, the elevator business is about the technicians and the field staff that backs you up to address and resolve issues.

Staying focused, long workdays and managing your time and finances are key.

In addition to your involvement in BOMA/Chicago, you also serve as the Chair on the Advisory Board for the Children’s Hospital University of Illinois and you are a Board member of San Miguel School Chicago. What advice would you give to others who want to get involved and help others in our community but are unsure where to start?

Always be passionate and share your time and talents to better a life in the community.  Always look for a need and be creative in finding a solution. If you are in sales and want to learn about marketing or finance, you can join a board and take on those tasks or be part of that committee. This allows you to learn more about these areas in a practical environment

The rewards of giving your gifts, time and sometimes, your finances, are countless and very gratifying.

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Gold Circle Award Winner Profile: Krystal Kurinsky

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Krystal Kurinsky,  MB Real Estate Services, Inc.

Krystal Kurinsky, Senior Vice President/General Manager with MB Real Estate Services, Inc. at 181 West Madison, is the recipient of BOMA/Chicago’s 2017 Property Management Professional of the Year.

How did you get started in the commercial real estate industry?

By accident (luck).  I moved to Chicago after college and answered an ad placed by a headhunter.  They sent me on an interview with LaSalle Partners (now JLL) for a Tenant Service Coordinator position at O’Hare Plaza.  My headhunter had to beg them to see me since they were done with their interviews and were ready to make a decision.  My interview was with Ronald Reagan and George Bush.  Seriously, the leasing brokers at the building (Paul Petricca and Don Polishuk) put on President masks and came into the interview that way.  Being from Sterling (next to Dixon which is Ronald Reagan’s home town) I acted like Ronald was an old friend of mine.  I got the job in one interview.

You recently opened a 14K square foot Wellness Center for your tenants. Were there any lessons learned you can share about the buildout itself? What were some marketing strategies you used to engage your tenants?

For the buildout – get everyone involved from the start.  Hold weekly meeting with the trades, the fitness center operator, audio/visual, IT etc.  Talk through what each group is going to need and then who is providing it from the beginning.  It is like building a house, it will take longer and cost more than you planned.

As for marketing, these steps were effective in achieving Tenant engagement:

  • Host an open house followed up by more open houses
  • Schedule one-on-one meetings with each Tenant and the Fitness Center operator.
  • Allow Tenants to try it for free
  • Set up an informational booth in the lobby during lunch hour passing out promotional flyers and free trial offers
  • Have tenant seminars (unrelated to fitness) in the Fitness Center
  • Offer non-member classes occasionally to give non-members a taste
  • Meet continuously with your Fitness Operator to make sure you are servicing the Tenants’ needs.

Your building is enrolled in ComEd’s Smart Ideas Retro-Commissioning Program. What are some of the benefits your building has experienced with this program?

Our mechanical/engineering/plumbing engineer, Environmental Systems Design, identified, measured, and verified 417,125 kilowatts of annual electricity savings through implementation of four low-cost retro-commissioning measures that included:

  • Supply static pressure reset
  • Lower night setback temperature
  • Enthalpy economizer control
  • Condenser Water supply reset

The combined implementation cost of all four measures was $22,659, which included our BAS contractor and in-house labor costs. Since ESD’s retro-commissioning study fee was paid for by ComEd, the simple payback of this project was just under one year and we benefit from the energy reduction to a tune of $37,866 annually.

What piece of advice would you share with our emerging leaders who want to manage their own building?

Learn everything you can:

  • Sit in on every meeting
  • Learn every procedure
  • Listen in on lease negotiations
  • Volunteer for committees
  • Try something new (get out of your comfort zone)
  • Do a portfolio service contract bid
  • Walk your building every day
  • Understand accounting
  • Listen and then ask a lot of questions

What is some of the best advice you have received?

Prepare, Listen, Ask Questions.

 

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Randy Waites with Avison Young Joins BOMA/Chicago Board of Directors

randel-waitesFirst appointed nearly ten years ago, Randy Waites, principal at Avison Young, is the newest member of BOMA/Chicago’s Board of Directors.

Randy jokingly says he “feels vindicated” after his original appointment in 2007, since shortly thereafter he accepted a position with John Buck International based in Abu Dhabi, and was unable to serve on the Board.

Randy moved to Abu Dhabi to work on al Maryah Island (previously known as Sowwah Island), a 90 hectare island, which serves as Abu Dhabi’s central business district. “We were there to not only build American buildings but also to infuse an American management style,” he explained.  As Chief Operating Officer, he developed asset and property management platforms, and compiled a property management and consulting portfolio of approximately 10 million square feet of office, retail, mixed-use and university facilities.

Randy is no stranger to working and traveling internationally. After living in Australia with his family where he attended high school, he later graduated with a Master of Business Administration from the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona with the intention to become an expat. Instead, his love of skiing and entrepreneurial spirit inspired him to build a 10-unit ski lodge in the Southern Rockies. He also owned and managed several businesses, including rental car agencies, deli and a grocery store, which he later sold in the 1990s. Taking advantage of the unique introduction to real estate that he acquired as a small business owner, Randy returned to Chicago and began his career in the commercial real estate industry.

Now with over twenty years of industry experience, Randy has provided executive oversight of more than 50 million square feet of office, industrial and retail properties. He has developed expertise in overseeing property, facilities and assets under management while specializing in agency leasing. He has also participated in a number of notable acquisitions and dispositions, supporting a full array of globally integrated services.

Randy has also been an active member of BOMA/Chicago over the years, serving on the Labor Committee among others and contributing to the development of the organization’s energy smart grid initiative. Once electricity deregulation occurred, Randy was one of the first to take advantage of the new competitive market to identify and attain cheaper and better power sources for his buildings and tenants. Randy continues to pursue sustainability opportunities at Avison Young for his clients, and is especially interested in efficiencies and cost-savings derived from demand response programs.

Randy also has an appreciation for the professional development BOMA/Chicago offers. While in Abu Dhabi, Randy quickly understood that the absence of a BOMA local association made it even more difficult to navigate through so many language, cultural and educational barriers. “It was a relief to return to the states with a professional institution like BOMA/Chicago in place that supports educated management professionals.”

Randy points to BOMA’s advocacy efforts on critical issues like taxes and collective bargaining advocate building owners as his strongest interests – issues that impact property owners’ bottom line. “Ultimately, the greatest value of BOMA/Chicago is its collective voice on behalf of building owners and managers.”

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What Exelon and ComEd Don’t Want You to Know

With electricity costs making up the first or second largest expense for BOMA/Chicago buildings, it’s crucial that we continue shedding light on Exelon and ComEd’s proposed legislation which, with its latest proposal introduced on November 15, would raise electricity rates $24 billion statewide over the next 23 years. BOMA/Chicago buildings alone – making up 5% of ComEd’s energy load – can expect to pay an increase of an estimated $417 million during that time.

More than likely you don’t have time to pour through the tedious and complex legislation (the most recent amendment was 446 pages in fact) so here are some basic facts that we suspect Exelon and ComEd don’t want you to know:

  1. Exelon is a publicly-traded, profitable company demanding a bailout. Buildings certainly don’t get a bailout, so why should a massive corporation that profited $2 billion last year and increased shareholder profits get one?
  2. Exelon’s plants have secured billions of dollars in contracts and subsidies. Despite claiming poor-performing nuclear plants, Exelon has secured over $4 billion in long-term contracts and subsidies for its nuclear plants.
  3. The numbers aren’t there now and won’t ever be if the rate increases are passed. Not only has Exelon failed to be forthcoming with all revenues at its nuclear plants, the rate increase proposal erodes public disclosure mandates and allows Exelon to keep ratepayer bailout money even if their nuclear plants are profitable. No true-up based on actual profitability would be required.
  4. ComEd will now profit from customer-funded sustainability incentives. Today ratepayers pay a 2% assessment on all electricity bills which is set aside in its entirety to fund or rebate various customer energy efficiency initiatives. This legislation would allow ComEd to profit through a “rate of return” when using dollars designated for energy efficiency – ultimately increasing costs to all customers.
  5. ComEd only makes money when electricity meters are spinning. Current law mandates that ComEd meet statutory goals for energy efficiency reductions – goals that ComEd has yet to actually achieve. The current statutory goal would be decimated, as this new legislation provides the utility with waivers to avoid meeting those requirements.
  6. Bottom Line: Chicago’s businesses will have to foot the bill. BOMA/Chicago buildings house more than 10,000 tenants who will ultimately pay the bill on top of a series of hefty property tax increase and fee increases the city has recently implemented . We have to wonder – how much more piling on will they tolerate?

BOMA/Chicago was just in Springfield to testify against the legislation and continues to work closely with a coalition of opposing organizations to educate legislative leaders and the Governor’s Office about the negative impact this legislation will have on our buildings and tenants. As always, it is the goal of BOMA/Chicago to mitigate any potential threat to our members and ensure that any impacts are as minimal as possible.

>>TAKE ACTION: Click here to contact your legislators today to ask them to oppose this legislation.

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Six Surprising Facts about the Exelon/ComEd Rate Increase Proposal

Exelon and ComEd have introduced a new legislation (House Amendent #2 to SB 2814) to drastically raise commercial and residential electricity rates and add new charges that will total $24 billion over twenty-three years. While Exelon and ComEd have claimed the rate increases and new charges are necessary to bailout its financially stressed nuclear plants and develop and enhance its “grid reliability,” it’s important that you understand the facts and adverse effects these changes would have on the commercial real estate industry and our tenants.

Below are six key reasons BOMA/Chicago has serious concerns regarding this new energy proposal by ComEd/Exelon:

  1. BOMA/Chicago buildings make up approximately 5% of ComEd’s energy load, and can expect to be billed an estimated $417 million of the projected increase. This increase will be passed through to businesses across the city, adding to the ever-increasing cost of doing business here.
  2. Exelon made more than $2 billion in profits last year. Despite massive revenues and increased shareholder profits, the company has repeatedly threatened to shut down its Quad Cities and Clinton nuclear power plants if their bailout proposal doesn’t pass.
  3. Despite claiming poor-performing nuclear plants,recent power auctions garnered Exelon an extra $1.7 billion for its nuclear plants. Though Exelon claims their nuclear assets aren’t economically viable, they were a big winner in last year’s annual capacity auction, where power producers bid for long-term contracts to supply electricity.
  4. Exelon’s total rate hike proposal statewide is estimated to be $24 billion over the next 23 years.The tax hike burden will fall on government, businesses and consumers.
  5. It’s estimated that ComEd and Exelon will secure $1 billion in profits over the next 10 years from the proposal.That doesn’t include the $2.6 billion subsidy Exelon’s struggling power plants would receive over that same time period.
  6. Customers have already paid twice for those nuclear plants.Not only did customers pay for construction of the same nuclear plants through regulated rates, we also paid over $10 billion in customer transition charges to the profitable publicly traded Exelon.

At this time, BOMA/Chicago is still not convinced that all income from Exelon’s Quad Cities and Clinton plants has been included in determining whether those plants are profitable, or of Exelon has considered all alternative options other than raising rates on Illinois energy consumers. On the cost side, ComEd and Exelon have only provided BOMA/Chicago with preliminary data to estimate the financial impacts to commercial customers.

BOMA/Chicago was just in Springfield to testify against the legislation and continues to work closely with a coalition of opposing organizations to educate legislative leaders and the Governor’s Office about the negative impact this legislation will have on our buildings and tenants. As always, it is the goal of BOMA/Chicago to mitigate any potential threat to our members and ensure that any impacts are as minimal as possible.

>>TAKE ACTION: Click here to contact your legislators today to ask them to oppose this legislation. 

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