This week we had the pleasure of interviewing Johnny Halman of Alpha Facilities Management Solutions. Before launching Alpha, Johnny spent over 7 years in Facilities at Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA), and was responsible for the maintenance of all JTA facilities and grounds. This consisted of almost 300,000 SF of building space across 22 facilities, and over 2,600 transit hubs in the greater Jacksonville area.
On this episode, Johnny dives into best practices surrounding core components of project management:
Johnny is passionate about Facilities Management and spreading the word on best practices!
Welcome to another episode of The Modern Facilities Management Podcast, brought to you by FlowPath. I'm your host, Griffin Hamilton. This is the show where I interview industry experts who share their stories, strategies, and insights into modern-day facilities management, from hospitality to commercial real estate and everything in between. We'll learn what it really takes to succeed as a facilities manager.
Welcome to another episode of The Modern Facilities Management Podcast, today I am pleased to have to join Johnny Halman. Johnny, how you doing man?
Johnny Halman 00:49
Doing great today, great to be with you, Griffin.
Griffin Hamilton 00:53
Well, I know we've had a lot of conversations. We've had the pleasure of meeting in person at one of the IFMA events here over the last few months. And I've had the pleasure of staying in contact with you but for those of you who haven't seen you wandering around these events and shaking hands with everybody, why don't you tell the audience who you are?
Johnny Halman 01:10
Okay, thank you, sir. My name is Johnny Halman, I am the former facility manager of Jacksonville Transportation Authority, in Jacksonville, Florida. I had the privilege of leading a team for five years in Facilities Management and I actually worked there, the two years prior to that being trained to take over for FM and after an extensive career with project management and operations management. So, as I was there, I had 26 different facilities, and I had over $200 million worth of assets that I was responsible for. I also was responsible for our new building, which you can go online and see, it is a gorgeous edifice in Jacksonville, Florida. If you'll google JRTC, which stands for Jacksonville Regional Transportation Centre, it is a combination transportation hub as well as an operations building, operations and administration building, five-storey edifice, crescent-shaped, beautiful facility, which is an addition to the Jacksonville skyline. And as well as that it, it includes our tram, which is an elevated Skyway, that actually runs into the building that you can see there. So, I inherited that, interestingly enough in March of 2020 and we all know what occurred during that time and so it was a fun and interesting exercise. I had brought all of the families in there, the different departments, seven different ones, over a period of eight weeks, brought them in stages, only to tell them two weeks after the final one moved in that, guys, I was just kidding, time to go home. And let's work from there because this new COVID thing is a concern to us. So, as many facility managers out there did, I was moving, shaken bobbing, and weaving, trying to manipulate this new occurrence. And so, we were able to get through that naturally and learned a lot from it and that's what I've experienced in my career, Griffin is that every opportunity out there is a learning opportunity. And I'm not just saying that as a cliche, literally, it is because I was able to experience something that most facility managers had not experienced prior to that time. And so, we were able to bring out our coop and our operations plan for continuing operations and we were able to look at that and revise that with all of the different departments. And not only that but we were able to actually get some attention in the C suite, which is so vital to the facility programs that we have out there. You've got to be recognized and you've got to be noticed and in many cases, we're the unsung heroes. We're those guys that yeah, we know you exist but hey, are you really doing anything for the bottom line? And then all of a sudden, this thing hit and we were at the forefront because the C suite folks, the VPS, the SVPs, the CEO, CFO, they were all wanting to know well, what are you doing to protect our environment? I was on several panel discussions during that time in the upcoming months over the next six, or seven months through the state of Florida here. And one of the questions was, what have you been doing with your free time since C19 hit and all of your facilities have closed down? And I had to, frankly, recused myself from answering that, because I never had free time. We're a 24/7 operation, we never stopped, we're public transit, and people need these services each and every day. They've got to get to their doctor's appointments, they've got to get to school, college, wherever it is, they may be going to their job and we never shut down. So, we continued to operate during this, now, did we change our mode of app operation, well you better believe it. Okay, so we shifted 180 and I had tremendous partners out there that was helping me, that are the service providers that helped me move forward with this operation. And were it not for them and I'll just give a shout-out to all of the service providers for facility managers, if it were not for them, which includes, by the way, folks like you and your organization, we could not operate effectively. And so, I want to just say thank you to them for helping us move forward through these difficult times. So, we went through that, we made it through that, and then as we're moving forward now, we've got all of a sudden, this new normal out there, okay, sanitizing operations? And keep in mind now, I also had 2600 bus stops in the City of Jacksonville, Florida, which is about a million people and the charge came down to me several weeks after COVID hit. Well, we want you to make sure all these touch points on these bus stops are sanitized. So, we quickly moved into action and we started a process and we got a program in place. So, we started sanitizing touch points vigorously in order to help the public of the area of Jacksonville, Florida know that they were safe and we were concerned about their well-being. So, that was kind of what that looked like and I got to tell you, it was quite the experience going through that. So, let me go ahead and branch off because almost everybody has lived that process in some way, shape, form, or fashion. Let me branch off into a little bit if I can, Griffin, into what we're doing at the Florida facility Summit, which is taking place the first week of August 2022. We have all facility managers that are going to be presenting at that event. I've been asked to present on project management with respect, especially to scope development. And some of the things I'm going to be discussing during my presentation are the need for scope development and a good solid scope development there. Frankly, you know, we begin projects many times and as facility managers, we can get frustrated. When the procurement department does not give us, if I may, what we want or what we need but then at the end of the day, we've got to look in the mirror and we've got to say, did we give them specificity on what we needed? Did we give them clear direction on what we needed in order to meet the level of service that we have to have to operate? So I begin, frankly, by discussing the different types of scopes of work. Is it going to be more prescriptive or is it going to be more program related, what are we going to do here? Are we going to prescribe each individual detail of it or are we just going to give them what the answer is? Here's what we want, I want a shed for storage and then let them go with that and so I discussed that at the onset and then next moving into scheduling, scheduling is huge. And if you don't have a solid understanding of scheduling programs and scheduling projects, then you can't effectively put it together. So, I'll move into that, I'll discuss some scheduling keys there and some of the things that we have to have in order to have a successful project at the end of it. The title of my presentation is, ‘Are you known in the C Suite as a department that gets projects completed in a good way?’ Because you can be known in a bad way, yeah, of getting projects completed and we don't want that as a facilities’ director, facilities’ manager, we want to be known in a positive light. So, let's make sure that the C suite folks understand that, you're a group that gets things done in a positive manner, with the bottom line being considered. Because at the end of the day, if you're going to get the attention and the support of your CFO, you've got to do things prudently, effectively, and in a cost-saving manner. So, that's some of the elements that we're going to be looking at.
Griffin Hamilton 11:15
Yeah and I think, sorry to interrupt, Johnny. I was going to say on that and it kind of ties back into what you mentioned earlier, as far as, like the notoriety of the facilities organization in general, right? Like, prior to COVID, a lot of people were looking at facilities as just a cost center but you're saying from not only the impact of COVID but just in projects in general, you could frame it, you should be framing it as getting it done with that bottom line in mind, that being one of the main focus areas and you know, showing the C suite what exactly you're doing day in and out, how you are doing these projects effectively.
Johnny Halman 11:52
Yeah, without a doubt, Griffin, and what we've got to be able to better demonstrate is, what is our value to the organization. How are we contributing positively to the organization? Are we actually at the end of the day saving you money and you know, that's what we've got to show them? And by the way, if you can't put it in print, it doesn't happen, I've been in government organizations for over 28 years, and let me tell you, what, if you can't put it in print in a manner that folks can understand and they can distribute it, they've got to be able to show it to the board. If the board doesn't see it in print, it didn't happen and so the C suite group has to be able to demonstrate to the board that you know what, the facilities group is doing their part to save us money and to be concerned about our bottom line. And so, along with that, you've got to factor in the health, the well-being of not only your employees but also of your customers. And let's face it, in this area, my customers included the entire populace of Duval County. Why? That was because every one of them saw our bus stops, they saw our facilities, they saw what we were doing, many of them partook of what we were doing and as a result of that, they demonstrated and provided us with feedback. Are you satisfied with it? Are we doing a good job? We had annual customer surveys and we took those very seriously, as we were demonstrating to the public and to our employees what was taking place. So, that's a huge part of it and then along the lines of the project development, what is your close-out look for? And I've got some entertaining things there in my presentation that I'll hold until that first week of August that demonstrate and discuss what are close out, absolutely! What it looks like, you know, and until you've closed out that project, first of all, you don't really know what that project cost is, you don't know the complete cost of that project till you’ve closed it out and you've paid every invoice. The other thing is until you have a satisfied customer, which is those that are experiencing whatever it is you've delivered, it could be your mechanics in your light industrial facility that actually and in my case, worked on buses and had all the facilities and the equipment to do so. Or it could be the administrative folks that worked in different areas and dealt with the climate control and the infusion of natural light and as well as other thing, until you've got a satisfied customer, you can't consider that project closed out. You've got to stay with it and you've got to ensure that they end up with what they're expecting at the end of the day. So, I'll be looking at all those things and then the panel discussion I'm on there during that August is regarding finances, more specifically, your budgeting and how important is it that your budgeting concepts are solid and that you know how to properly budget for the upcoming year. And not just the upcoming year but if you're looking at a CapEx, you need to be looking at 5 to 10 years out, which also can include that CMMS, which is so vital to you being able to accurately forecast that. And Griffin, if you're willing to I'll let you take it from there and share a few things about how the CMMS can actually help you forecast that CapEx budget moving forward.
Griffin Hamilton 16:08
Yeah, and I think I mean, that's a great point to make there, where it is all about data and it is all about looking ahead and I think that's been one of the main themes of the show, right? It's not only best practices while you're in the weeds but how do you become a better facilities manager and go from what today has in front of you to next week, next month, next year, or five years out and it's all about data? Like, how are you using that data and having the proper tools in place to capture where you're spending your time, your labor, your resources, and the actual budget for repairing or replacing different equipment? And the more data you have and the cleaner data you have, I think that is going to just set yourself up for success, as you can look ahead. And it's not just, I've got a gut feeling on X, Y, and Z coming up, it's all right here is the data, here is what the story is telling me. And I mean to your point and that's something you know, we at FlowPath really drill into but I think that ties into the larger conversation with what you're referring to, of making sure that you've set the foundation, set expectations from the get-go from a project standpoint, what you're trying to accomplish, what success looks like to the proper stakeholders and finally closing it out with proper execution of that and ensuring that happy customer there. And so, I think that is just a major tool that you need to have in place too from start to finish, make sure that you're doing things from a project standpoint in the right manner.
Johnny Halman 17:46
Yes, sir. Absolutely! And as you just stated, it is vital to have accurate data. I can't tell you the number of times that our CEO mentioned the fact that big data, accurate data is so vital to our business solutions moving forward and you've got a habit. And if you do not have a solid CMMS, then you're not going to have that information you need and I would encourage anyone that hears this that if you do not have a solid CMMS, then you need to pursue one today. You don't need to wait; you need to pursue it now because it is so vital to your business continuity.
Griffin Hamilton 18:42
Absolutely and Johnny, I appreciate the context here and enlightening us on best practices at a high level from a project management perspective. But you said you're going to dive into a lot more depth here presenting here over the next couple of months, can you remind me, remind the audience where that event is and what it is and where they could find it?
Johnny Halman 19:05
Yes. If they'll google Florida Facilities Summit 2022. It is going to be at the Rosen Hospitality Facility in Orlando. It's going to be the first week of August, I believe the dates are August 3rd through the 5th and we are asking for facility managers to latch on to this because it is something that to our knowledge has not been done before. This is a collaborative effect, a collaborative project from all of the Florida chapters, all four Florida IFMA chapters coming together with just facility managers presenting the classes. Now, there'll be other individuals that will be there that will be sharing, that will support the facility managers and we have some 28, I believe it is different demonstrations and different support personnel that will be there. And then we'll have other vendors that will be helping us and helping us to showcase their wares so that we know who out there is available to help us achieve success as facility managers. So, I would encourage anyone and everyone that can attend that, to please log on today to Florida Facility Summit 2022. And go in there, go ahead and sign up for it, and plan to spend a few days in August down in beautiful Orlando, Florida with us.
Griffin Hamilton 20:49
Yeah, and I'll certainly have the link to that website and more details on the event in the show notes. So, for those listening and hopefully, it's before August, that folks are catching this and they're not catching up here but certainly check that out. And I can assure you, you won't be disappointed here and Johnny talking a lot more depth about what we've covered here today. But Johnny, one last question before I let you run. Who or what has had the biggest influence on you and your career? It's a question I asked everybody, so you can't get out of this but who or what has had the biggest impact on your career?
Johnny Halman 21:24
Well, all I can do, Griffin is answer it honestly and the biggest influence on my career has been several individuals who spoke truth and honesty to me and I'll say this, many times, we need to hear that. Now, can I be honest and transparent and say that a couple of times, that was very painful to me, at the time of the deliverance of that message but that's okay because I've learned from that. And we need to hear those lessons whereby that were being instructed from individuals who have been there before us, they understand what we don't understand and they have the opportunity and have taken the time. And don't let me miss understate that because they've taken their time to help educate and bring along others. And if there's one thing that I've told others that I want to do at this stage in my life and my career, it's to help others to know what I've learned and to help bring them on to a place of accomplishment and success.
Griffin Hamilton 22:48
I love that and that's something else that is important to where it's not every negative bit of feedback is going to be bad. Just if you have a positive takeaway and you take it as constructive criticism and that's going to take you a long way. And it's cool to just see that resonates with you and you reflect on some times that that has actually occurred for you and obviously made a big impact on your career there but love hearing that. And again, Johnny, that was the last question I have for you. It's been an absolute pleasure; I appreciate you taking the time to come on the show and educate the folks on who you are and your area of expertise and I’m certainly looking forward to seeing you here in the near future.
Johnny Halman 23:26
Excellent. Thank you so much for the opportunity, Griffin. I certainly do appreciate it.
Griffin Hamilton 23:31
All right, take care, Johnny.
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