Building Maintenance Career

Name: Eddy Wedertz, Sr.
Job Title: Retail Store Building Maintenance Supervisor
Where: Fort Myers, FL
Years of Experience: 21 years
Education: Diablo Valley College, Pleasant Hill, CA, Air-conditioning major, Math and Electrical minors.
Salary: See the PayScale Research Center for the median salary of a building maintenance supervisor.

Building Maintenance Supervisor

The importance of building maintenance is often taken for granted until something stops working. All of a sudden work grinds to a halt because the lights have gone out, the ceiling is leaking onto your computer, or the office is the temperature of the sun. That’s when Eddy Wedertz is transformed into a hero. He and others like him are the only people who know the maintenance plans and procedures required to take care of any problem within a given building or business. So the next time you see your maintenance manager, thank them – they not only make your job easier, they make it possible.

What is expected in the chief role of building maintenance supervisor?

Besides taking care of the back room equipment at JCPenny Concord, CA, I take care of the work requests from the 400 associates throughout the 200,000 sq. ft. store. Handling calls while performing the cost prevention maintenance is a juggling act to say the least. Most of the people in the retail end of a store have no idea of what runs the air-conditioning, or what it takes to assure it will run when they request for it to be on. They know when it gets warm and who to call. I had a chance to assess the way the air-conditioning system was designed and took this opportunity to run a project in remodeling the controls to save $50,000 in eleven months at the Concord, CA store. The previous costs were $30,000 a month, so this remodeling did not make the store look any different. This remodel helped save the $50,000 it cost to install. Just the fact that our store was the only store with only one maintenance person was already a savings to the company. The other 21 stores in the district had two maintenance people each. I went on to the Richmond, CA store to open the new building and found energy wastes in the excessive wattage used in the lighting of the store and set forth committing my time to de-watt the lights in this store. In a year I had cut the lighting costs by $10,000 and each year by at least this much.

What were your steps toward becoming a building maintenance supervisor?

I was raised in a family of 10 siblings and our father would have us help him with whatever task or repair needed to be done that weekend. He saw no need to pay someone to come into his home to do repairs and then to be paid for doing the work, when he had a crew right there eating his food. As I got older I found that if I had the proper information I could handle almost anything mechanical. The first engine I rebuilt went very well, although I could have removed it from the car and that would have made it easier. I managed to replace the distributor add the wires and got the engine to start.

What do you love about your job?

When I submitted the proposal for the remodel of the energy savings on the air conditioning control system I was told to sign the contract to have the people install the needed hardware. I was only a supervisor and it took managers or above to allocate the expenditure of $50,000. I was delighted when the return on investment came in at 11 months when we calculated 24 months.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as a building maintenance supervisor?

Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork. Keeping track of the hours used on a given project is for the bean counters so they can figure out if you are a cost-effective tool in the company.

Can you recall any sobering moments from your job?

I was in the center of the change for this company and, not knowing this was the nation’s flagship store, I did not know I was in the limelight for the people at corporate. When I proposed the changes, I did not know that the store manager had passed up the presidency of the company so he could retire out of the Concord, CA store. When the year was up and I had the corporate personnel show up at the store and I was to explain how this was being accomplished, I told them how the a/c clutch on my car had broke and I put a bolt in it to make it stay on without the fan – I lost most of them. I continued to inform them that a chilled water system is like the Olympic circles, each circle being the next part of the system – I lost the rest of them. My instructor for the a/c lab could not understand the full scope of this project and I could not expect a bunch of rag merchants to figure it out.

Do you have any advice for those interested in becoming a building maintenance supervisor?

Go to school and stay in school even after you’ve gotten your degree. Sure, you might miss the big game on television, but television isn’t going to ensure your future. Only you can change your stars.

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