EMS workers begin their day long before you do

Multiple buildings, multiple acres all must be maintained

As part of his daily routine, director of maintenance Mr. Carl Grill checks the electrical box in the Kelly Hall basement.

Adrian Edmonds

As part of his daily routine, director of maintenance Mr. Carl Grill checks the electrical box in the Kelly Hall basement.

Ashlynn Bakemayer, Reporter

With 39.4 acres to cover, a maintenance crew is constantly working. Whether the problem is as minor as a burned out light bulb or as major as a flooded hallway, a staff member can, via a website, submit a work order, to the maintenance crew. 

From there, director of maintenance Mr. Carl Grill and the Executive Management Services team get the job done. 

The day may start as early as 4 a.m. for Grill. The EMS members are already at the school before the sun is up, salting the sidewalks when it is icy. But even on the warm spring days of April and May, they still have to be at school by 6 a.m. to open and prepare the campus before the students arrive. That is only the beginning to a long day of repairing, building and compromising.

Each day brings new surprises for Grill. “Any minute something can happen,” Grill said. “One day I walked in and the administrative hall was covered in water. I found out that the water was coming from Mr. (Ken) Barlow’s bathroom. Gravel got in the pipes from a break and that’s why the toilets and plumbing keep clogging.”

Grill said the maintenance staff receives an average of five requests per day, adding on to the original tasks at hand. Grill said some shifts are busier than others; it just depends on the day. He said the first month of the school year is one of the busier times.

Because Grill is not technically a school employee, he deals with both the school and EMS. “My job is all over the place. You have to know what you can and can’t accomplish and what is and isn’t important at the moment. You need to balance between what you want to do in the future and what you can do today.”

Part of Grill’s job is compromising between cost and quality. “I advise better options, make sure the school is getting the best for their money and I double check what everyone is billing us for. I approach the situation, give my professional opinion and come up with the cheapest option,” Grill said.

Always looking to save money

Grill always looks for the better option. An example is the lights in the halls. Instead of buying all new lights that would cost thousands of dollars, the maintenance team waits for them to burn out. Then they slowly, start replacing the lights instead of putting thousands of dollars in one place at one time. Over the past few years, incandescent lights have bee replaced with high efficiency LED bulbs. This not only saves money because they provide the same light while using less eletricity, they also operate longer, reducing the costs of paying staff to replace burned-out bulbs. 

Vice President of Operations Mr. Jim McLinn ’70 oversees the entire prociess. McLinn wrote in an email, “I work in the annual planning of maintenance and construction needs both on the school campus and at Brunette Park.” 

McLinn meets with the operations team once a week, the EMS supervisor and school administrators for planning purposes and he meets with the President’s Cabinet and school budgeting team every other week.

More than just the 56th Street campus  

McLinn said, “I have input with janitorial needs on our 39.4 acres on campus and 35.7 acres, soon to become 42 acres, at Brunette Park. Between the two complexes there is about 300,000 square feet under roof that must be maintained.”

With the amount of ground that has to be covered, Grill said, “Everything is on such a large scale. The hardest part about my job is multitasking. That’s not normally hard for me as a person, it’s just the magnitude of it. It’s multiple phones, multiple emails, multiple companies and just multiple everything.”

Despite these challenges, Grill always finds satisfaction at the end of the day. “The most enjoyable part of my job is seeing the way people express their gratitude for what we’ve done, something simple and so easy for us to do, but the biggest change in their day,” Grill said. 

McLinn said he likes “being around the kids and supporting them in their personal and spiritual growth.” 

Whatever surprise the day brings, Grill and the EMS team are prepared to repair, build and compromise.