A conversation with Sharron Balic, Don Hedrick, Ed Kroenlein, and Paul Smith • Interviewed by Randel Edwards
Interviewer: How did each of you become acquainted with APPA?
Balic: When I first came to Valencia in 1990, I found that the college was active in APPA. My former supervisor, James Reinschmidt, encouraged me to become involved.
Hedrick: I was introduced to APPA by a friend of mine—Bill McKenzie—who was the head of facilities at Frostburg State College in Maryland.
Kroenlein: Wyoming has seven community colleges. The facilities managers at these schools and at the University of Wyoming get together twice each year for meetings, and this is where I first heard about APPA. Schools in Wyoming who are members of APPA encouraged us to join, listing the positive benefits of
membership in APPA.
Smith: I saw Facilities Manager magazine and a newsletter from Rocky Mountain Region of APPA.
Interviewer: APPA is well known for its educational programming. What has been your experience with various
programs that APPA offers?
Balic: My most valuable experience was my time at the Executive Leadership seminar at Notre Dame. The atmosphere, the staff, the coursework, and the opportunity to interact with colleagues in that setting was a great experience.
Hedrick: I have attended the APPA Institute for Facilities Management and every annual meeting except two since 1982. It’s really hard to put a value on the ideas that you gain … proven ideas that work.
Kroenlein: I haven’t had much opportunity to participate in educational programming outside of the state. APPA offered a course at Casper College in Wyoming several years ago that was very helpful to us. Although our budget is small, we were able to send two staff persons and myself to this program mainly because it was regionally delivered.
Smith: I have found the educational programming to be relevant and professional. The costs are reasonable when compared to other professional associations.
Interviewer: What other APPA products, publications, or services have been helpful to you?
Balic: The book Maintenance Staffing Guidelines for Educational Facilities has been invaluable. It has given me the information I need to justify position and equipment requests.
Hedrick: Obviously, Facilities Manager magazine. I read each issue from cover to cover. ERAPPA’s training library has also been very helpful on numerous occasions.
Kroenlein: I have utilized Facilities Management: A Manual for Plant Administration. Also, I have used
Custodial Staffing Guidelines for Educational Facilities and Operational Guidelines for Grounds Management to improve the operations of the
Smith: Facilities Manager magazine, the Institute for Facilities Management, and the staffing guidelines books.
Interviewer: What impact has APPA had on your professional development?
Balic: APPA’s programs have helped me balance my technical skills with management skills. I have been able to encourage more of our first-line supervisors to take advantage of the educational programs which I hope will give them the skills they need to move up in the organization.
Hedrick: I would say a tremendous impact. As someone who has been very active in APPA … it has allowed me to interact with much larger colleges and gain from their experience. I can call them at any time and gain their help.
Smith: I have attended the Institute for Facilities Management and the Executive Leadership seminar at Notre Dame. These courses plus the various publications have enabled me to translate my previous experience to higher education facilities issues. I believe I am a better higher education facility officer because of the training and publications.
Interviewer: Networking is an important facet of any association. Can you share an example where you received practical help as a result of networking in APPA?
Hedrick: When I first arrived at Allegany, the administration was trying to control energy costs. Local laws require that there must 10 percent fresh air in a standard class room facility at any time. So I had the mechanics adjust all dampers at 10 percent open. When I talked to some APPA colleagues from the University of Maryland, I learned that I could get the 10 percent fresh air from a closed damper via infiltration because the dampers do not close completely. When I returned to work, I instructed the mechanics to close the dampers. We not only achieved compliance with the local codes, but saved the college thousands of dollars in energy costs over the coming years.
Kroenlein: Mainly I have learned everyday management skills through the programs at the biannual Wyoming meetings and from networking with other members of APPA.
Smith: I needed some information regarding gym floors and the name of a firm to perform an evaluation of the gym floor at our college. I made a couple of phone calls [to APPA members] and by the end of the day I had what I needed to answer these issues.
Interviewer: How has your community college directly benefited from belonging to APPA?
Balic: The involvement of plant operations in APPA has helped heighten the awareness of the community college mission and Valencia Community College’s commitment to that mission.
Hedrick: Our college has benefited from the experience that I have gained from the meetings and the Institute for Facilities Management. There is a direct benefit to the college because the experience and ideas I bring back from these meetings results in a more efficient physical plant operation. I learn something important or applicable at every meeting I attend. I bring that tidbit back to our staff and it has a lasting impact on our operations.
Kroenlein: As a member of APPA, we have access to a wealth of information and educational opportunities related to physical plant operations in both community colleges and universities.
Smith: I have been able to get my managers, directors, and supervisors trained in facilities management, to use RFPs from other institutions to get services, and to gain access to a wealth of information on facilities
Interviewer: Clearly, your community colleges see value in APPA membership. What would you say to a facilities professional at a nonmember community college as to why they should join APPA?
Balic: I don’t believe there is another professional organization like APPA that can provide the community college facilities professional with the educational offerings and the networking opportunities.
Hedrick: The benefits, if they are used, of belonging to APPA far outweigh the costs.
Kroenlein: Why join? For the information that is available through APPA and the support from APPA members and the APPA office.
Smith: APPA provides an excellent peer network, relevant training, and a professional organization dedicated to helping you succeed at providing quality facility services.