Make-ready basic training: with 6,000 units and troops on the move, Fort Hood Family Housing must run a tight ship to complete timely and efficient make-readies.
At the end of his military career, Gen. Douglas MacArthur said, "Old soldiers Old Soldiers is a sequel novel to the short story "With Your Shield" by David Weber, published in the anthology BOLO!, edited by same.
It details the future of the two survivors of that battle as they try to keep alive a remnant of humanity, deliberately separated off and never die, they simply fade away Verb 1. fade away - become weaker; "The sound faded out"
dissolve, fade out
change state, turn - undergo a transformation or a change of position or action; "We turned from Socialism to Capitalism"; "The people turned against the President when he stole the ." Clearly, he'd never met the staff members of Fort Hood Fort Hood, U.S. army post, 209,000 acres (84,580 hectares), central Tex., near Killeen; est. 1942 on the site of old Fort Gates and named for Confederate Gen. John Hood. It is one of the army's largest installations and a major employer of the area. Family Housing (FHFH FHFH Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry ) Resident Services, many of whom are ex-military, whose dedication certainly has never faded. For the staff, keeping up the 6,000 housing units at Fort Hood is a labor of love. And that labor includes a sizable number of make-readies.
More than conventional apartment housing, military installations can seem like revolving doors, and the comings and goings of America's finest can overwhelm o·ver·whelm
tr.v. o·ver·whelmed, o·ver·whelm·ing, o·ver·whelms
1. To surge over and submerge; engulf: waves overwhelming the rocky shoreline.
a. the most efficient, hard-working property management team. Yet FHFH turns a home around in an average of three days. Here's some basic training in its highly disciplined operations.
A Change in Command
Until recently, military housing was managed by the government, which contracted out maintenance services. But in 2001, the government moved to privatize pri·va·tize
tr.v. pri·va·tized, pri·va·tiz·ing, pri·va·tiz·es
To change (an industry or business, for example) from governmental or public ownership or control to private enterprise: "The strike ... military housing. It's a gradual process, but eventually all stateside state·side
1. Of or in the continental United States.
2. Alaska Of or in the 48 contiguous states of the United States.
1. military housing will follow.
What privatization privatization: see nationalization.
Transfer of government services or assets to the private sector. State-owned assets may be sold to private owners, or statutory restrictions on competition between privately and publicly owned means, in a nutshell nut·shell
The shell enclosing the meat of a nut.
in a nutshell
In a few words; concisely: Just give me the facts in a nutshell.
Adv. 1. , is that the government continues to own the land, but enters into a 50-year partnership or contract with a private development company. That company--in this case, Actus Lend Lease LLC--manages leasing operations, rent collection, maintenance, renovations, design and even new construction. Actus has won contracts to manage about 34,000 housing units--in the form of single-family homes, duplexes, four-plexes and eight-plexes--on bases from Hawaii to New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of . FHFH maintenance employees fall directly under WinnResidential, Actus's joint venture management partner.
Ship In, Ship Out, Make Ready
Joe Sharp, CAPS, is Vice President and Project Manager for Actus's Asset Management Group, which makes him responsible for just about everything. That long list includes maintenance, development, new construction and finances. Having worked in the private sector for 30 years, he is in a perfect position to contrast the military make-ready philosophies with the private sector's.
"We do things a little differently in the military," Sharp said. "We aim for very fast turnaround because we have a waiting list that numbers in the hundreds, and every day a home is empty represents not only the loss of a day's rent, but another day that a military family does not have a permanent home," Sharp said. "On the other hand, leasing professionals, unless they are enjoying 100 percent occupancy, typically want a certain number of units ready at all times."
The steady flow of make-readies keeps the FHFH Resident Services crew hopping. Maintenance Manager Bob Brown said, "We receive about 250 move-outs each month, although that number varies greatly with the seasons. The size of our staff varies accordingly. Our average is 188, but we've been as high as 206 and as low as 165. We try to avoid layoffs whenever possible by reducing work hours."
In June last year, Brown's service squad received 511 move-outs, or Vacant Quarters Maintenance (VQMs). With 6,000 units, that translates into a whopping 8.5 percent turnover in a single month. With the make-readies spread over the month, at a pace of about 16 to 25 per day, keeping track of who's going where, and when, is a job for well-organized maintenance managers and property management software.
Still, meeting two very different objectives--turning homes at lightning speed and reducing residents' stress about moving out--is definitely a challenge. "Our dedicated labor force, well-stocked warehouse and great cooperative relationship between property managers and maintenance make it possible," Brown said.
Higher volume strains the contract budget, too; the average make-ready costs about $1,100 per unit. Fortunately, operational and technical innovations that Brown and his group have implemented have saved taxpayers millions.
Other unique factors influence turnaround time (1) In batch processing, the time it takes to receive finished reports after submission of documents or files for processing. In an online environment, turnaround time is the same as response time. at Fort Hood. Much of its housing is 40 years to 60 years old. These houses have been renovated, but like civilian renters, temporary residents of military housing tend to be harder on housing than owners are. Also, many young soldiers are living in their own homes for the first time and they don't always realize when there's a problem that needs attention.
Years ago, the military made a point of regularly visiting each family to determine the health and welfare of both the residents and the homes. That is no longer the case. At Fort Hood, maintenance technicians do not enter a home when nobody is there--unless authorized au·thor·ize
tr.v. au·thor·ized, au·thor·iz·ing, au·thor·iz·es
1. To grant authority or power to.
2. To give permission for; sanction: to do so by the resident--whether to complete a work order or to perform pest control pest control n → control m de plagas
pest control n → lutte f contre les nuisibles
pest control pest n . That makes resident reporting the only means of knowing what's going on What's Going On is a record by American soul singer Marvin Gaye. Released on May 21, 1971 (see 1971 in music), What's Going On reflected the beginning of a new trend in soul music. in a particular unit.
Although the setting is military, many of the make-ready issues are universal. The average turnaround involves repairs to walls, checking and replacing appliances if needed, painting and replacing worn carpeting. "In extreme cases, such as pest infestations or structural damage," Brown said, "turnaround can take more than a month. But on the other hand, some families leave the houses so pristine that soldiers can move in the same day."
FHFH Resident Services appreciate those families because there is a huge waiting list for military housing. Like most bases, Fort Hood lacks sufficient housing to meet the demand. So what's the big attraction? "Value," Sharp said. "You get more square footage for your money. For example, a soldier with a family can rent a four-bedroom on base for the same money that would garner only a two-bedroom home outside." The benefits of living on base don't end there. The partnership picks up the utilities tab for base-dwellers. And talk about rent control: The rent is always conveniently equal to the soldier's monthly housing allowance. The final perk perk 1
v. perked, perk·ing, perks
1. To stick up or jut out: dogs' ears that perk.
2. To carry oneself in a lively and jaunty manner. , Sharp said wryly, is "getting to live in one of the world's largest gated communities gat·ed community
A subdivision or neighborhood, often surrounded by a barrier, to which entry is restricted to residents and their guests. ."
Care Givers, Not Caretakers
Brown and his crew have some strong opinions, and strong feelings, about what they do. New staff member Glester Burkhart spent 20 years in the military and 10 years supporting soldiers. The latter included a year in Bosnia and 30 months living in a tent in Djibouti, Djibouti (Africa).
If only we all loved our jobs like Burkhart does, the world would be a far happier place. "My workday passes too quickly," he said. "It is such a privilege to serve these soldiers and their families. When a soldier is serving in Iraq, the last thing he or she needs is to worry about the family back home."
When it comes to make-readies, Burkhart said, "It's our job to take care of the houses. But it's really great to see people make them into homes."
Management helps set that tone. FHFH Resident Services are available 24/7. Larry Oglesby, Assistant Service Order Manager, respectfully refers to residents as clients rather than customers. And as a result of the fact that most work orders are carried out in the presence of residents, technicians and families get to know each other.
This familiarity may make spouses of deployed soldiers feel more comfortable reporting problems. "If they're concerned about it, we're concerned about it," Burkhart said. "The families of our soldiers are our report card. If they're happy, we're happy."
Running a Tight Ship
Since privatization, Brown has noticed several differences working with civilian property management companies. "In the private sector, when there's a major or specialized problem, the maintenance person typically calls someone from outside to fix it," he said. "It's expensive, and it can delay resolution of the problem."
That procedure might work well for an Army of One, but it wouldn't cut it at Fort Hood. The maintenance staff of FHFH Resident Services includes specialists--plumbers and electricians, for example--as well as technicians with more generalized experience. "Our technicians do just about everything, including renovations," Brown said.
Of course, not every property management company oversees 6,000 homes in one area. But Brown's idea could be scaled down to as few as three or four technicians for smaller concentrations of units.
Brown believes that this management-maintenance relationship saves taxpayers millions of dollars in labor, materials and time. He points to the fact that before privatization, maintenance and renovations at Fort Hood cost $15 million to $17 million annually. Those costs have dropped to $10 million to $12 million.
Decisions related to renovation, demolition and new construction are made jointly by the partnership of Actus Lend Lease, WinnResidential (including the company's Asset, Property and Development Managers) and the government. "That's one of the benefits of privatization," Brown said. "It relieves the government of the burden of making those kinds of decisions and of the cost and effort involved in developing the scope of work and contracting services."
'We Don't Mess Around, Ma'am'
When it comes to problems that affect a large number of homes, creative thinking also saves taxpayers a tidy sum. One recent example involved air conditioning air conditioning, mechanical process for controlling the humidity, temperature, cleanliness, and circulation of air in buildings and rooms. Indoor air is conditioned and regulated to maintain the temperature-humidity ratio that is most comfortable and healthful. problems in 900 Fort Hood homes. "In a place like Texas, air conditioning vents should be installed near the ceiling because cold air sinks," Brown said. "But in these homes, the ductwork duct·work
A group or system of ducts: installed new ductwork in the building. was routed between floors." That configuration resulted in poor cooling performance and problems with water condensation.
To address the problem, the partnership got advice and an estimate from an outside construction company. Its proposed solution was to install pneumatic pneumatic /pneu·mat·ic/ (noo-mat´ik)
1. pertaining to air.
1. Of or relating to air or other gases.
2. dampers at a cost of $2.8 million for the 900 homes.
As a man who seems to relish a fiscal skirmish, Brown thought his group could fix the problem for less. He was right: "Larry Oglesby, the HVAC (Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning) In the home or small office with a handful of computers, HVAC is more for human comfort than the machines. In large datacenters, a humidity-free room with a steady, cool temperature is essential for the trouble-free foreman at the time, suggested changing the entire configuration," Brown said. "We developed a plan to reroute the ductwork by going up through carport CARPORT Cardiology A clinical trial–Coronary Artery Restenosis Prevention on Repeated Thromboxane-Antagonism Study that evaluated thromboxane A2-receptor blockade in preventing restenosis after PCTA in Pts with CAD. crawl spaces crawl·space or crawl space
A low or narrow space, such as one beneath the upper or lower story of a building, that gives workers access to plumbing or wiring equipment.
Noun 1. or linen closets into the attic. After that, all we had to do was sell the concept to the various entities that make up the partnership."
Brown and Oglesby can be forgiven for gloating because that approach is being implemented at a cost of only $700,000.
Even the ever-cranky Gen. George Patton would have approved. He said, "A leader is a man [or woman, of course] who can adapt principles to circumstances."
The Fort Hood operation couldn't function without the use of software to create work orders, track costs, maintain an up-to-the-minute inventory of parts and manage payroll. Previously, Brown and others had tweaked See tweak. an existing software package to meet the company's needs. With the move to WinnResidential, FHFH has adopted a maintenance component of its property management software for the military. The process has been implemented and overseen by Sharp. "We're still learning," he laughed.
Asked to describe a typical day, Burkhart replied, "We sweat a lot." He had just completed one of the duct conversions, and it was only 8:30 a.m. Given a compliment about the speed with which he accomplished the task, he said, "We don't mess around, ma'am."
Besides make-readies, Brown's crew responds to almost 100,000 work orders a year. And that does not even count finding lost dogs
Lost Dogs have been called a country music supergroup, but they consider themselves to be a roots and alternative music group. , rescuing wheelchair-bound residents when they fall or performing additional repairs when they respond to a work order. And what kind of work order covers beehives in the attic In the Attic can refer to:
injury caused by the venom of a honey bee (Apis mellifera). Multiple stings cause local swelling, pain and excitement, and may cause dyspnea if the head is affected. ? "We moved that family out immediately, and put them in corporate housing for a week while we eliminated the pests," Oglesby said.
If these people's sense of purpose seems too good to be true, consider this quote from Gen. Colin Powell Noun 1. Colin Powell - United States general who was the first African American to serve as chief of staff; later served as Secretary of State under President George W. Bush (born 1937)
Colin luther Powell, Powell : "Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier A capability that, when added to and employed by a combat force, significantly increases the combat potential of that force and thus enhances the probability of successful mission accomplishment. ." Whatever the secret to their success, there's no disputing that Brown's crew gets the job done promptly--and with a smile. And one more thing is abundantly clear: The maintenance techs of FHFH Resident Services wear their hearts on their tool belts.
Janice Myers is a freelance writer who lives in Albuquerque, N.M.