Maintenance Work Peaks During Summer

Furniture from Barracks is placed outside each room to allow for cleaning and refresh by P2 during the summer at VMI.

LEXINGTON, Va., June 25, 2024—For many departments at Virginia Military Institute, there is a bit of relief when the last name of the graduating class is read, “The Spirit” is played, and the graduates toss their gloves in the air. It signals the beginning of summer, a time to slow down and rejuvenate in preparation for another busy school year. However, the Department of Facilities Management, also known as Physical Plant or P2, does not slow down. In many ways, their work picks up.

There are only 13 weeks from graduation to matriculation, and in that short window, P2 must repair, paint, strip, wax, and deep clean areas on post that are difficult to get to during the academic year. In barracks alone, there are 438 cadet rooms and 1,814 sets of furniture on which P2 must work.

Facility maintenance team 1 (FMT1), led by Sam Kessinger, goes through each of the cadet rooms and spaces in barracks to make sure the emergency lights work, all the desk and wardrobe drawers are serviceable, graffiti is removed, windows are repaired, damaged shades are replaced, all sinks work, and there is the correct amount of furniture. 

Facility maintenance team 2 (FMT2), led by Sam Braford, works in Crozet Hall. They make sure lights work, replace damaged tile, work on plumbing, and paint. They also support FMT1 in the beginning of summer by providing a small crew that focuses on tightening every bolt on all 1,814 racks.

The housing maintenance team (HMT) and the water proofers (WP) are led by John Camper. The HMT repair, paint, and clean 12 apartment units in which Institute faculty and staff members resided over the past year, making them ready for new incoming faculty and staff. WP apply tammscoat and caulk to buildings to keep them dry, as well as repair masonry and concrete.

The grounds shop, led by Brandon Zollman, is divided into four areas: the three-member set-up crew; the five-member mowing crew that mows and controls weeds on nearly 12 acres; the two-member athletic team that maintains 27.5 acres of athletic fields, including the Parade Ground; and the two-member landscaping team that focuses on nearly 100,000 square feet of flower and shrub beds.

The lock shop, led by Andy Buchanan, makes sure all the locks and doors are serviceable. They are completing a conversion to a new electronic access software, with new electronics, boards, and wiring.

The heat plant is led by Scottie Swisher. Because the demand for steam and hot water slows in the summer, they are able to take down each of the three boilers—one at a time—and examine them thoroughly, making sure they are safe and ready for heavy use in the fall and winter.

Southern Air, VMI’s HVAC contractor, is led by Andy Cox. He and his team go through barracks, change air filters on each heating unit and check each thermostat, as well as other places on post.

The custodial group is broken into four teams. Three teams, led by Amy Pursley, Butch Staton, and Tim Glass, all focus on stripping and waxing floors, shampooing carpet, and deep-cleaning classrooms and common areas. They also support HMT in cleaning apartments. Cleaning barracks is contracted with the Budd Group, led by Anthony Poulin. They clean all 438 rooms, as well as handle the final furniture moves.

The fire and safety team, led by Neil Gibson, executes facility inspections of fire detection and suppression systems, CCTV camera systems, and life safety equipment. The team also manages VMI’s VA 811 utility marking program.

The logistics team, led by Marsha Poole, ensures the P2 teams have the materials, supplies, and safety equipment needed to do their work efficiently. They do all the ordering, receiving, stocking, and deliveries of maintenance purchases.

The customer service team, led by Danielle Tolley, makes sure all requests are handled efficiently.  Tolley also runs a series of reports through the maintenance management system to analyze data to improve proficiencies and customer service.

The motor pool is led by Jay Painter. With the P2 building located 2.5 miles from post, maintenance could not be done without properly running vehicles. Painter and his team maintain the nearly 90 vehicles that P2 uses for maintenance, and faculty and staff use for travel, recruiting, and training.

All the hard work would not be possible without good, solid leadership. Todd Willey, VMI’s energy manager, oversees the heat plant and HVAC contract. Larry Camper, chief of maintenance and operations, oversees the maintenance teams, grounds, and lock shops. Sheila Garrett, custodial manager, supervises four custodial teams. Adam Moyer, chief of fire and safety programs, oversees the fire and safety team, fire contracts, and safety training. Steve LeBlanc, chief of customer service and logistics, manages the teams that support logistics, customer service, and motor pool teams. Tracy Gordon, P2 administrator, takes care of paperwork and ensures everyone is paid properly.

The group of approximately 115 people achieve so much during the short summer window. When the phrase “Rats, meet your cadre!” is finally called in New Barracks in the late summer, P2 takes a collective breath of relief that another summer maintenance cycle is complete, then immediately gets ready for the busy fall of football games, reunions, and many other activities that come with a new academic year.

Eric A. Schwartz ’95
Deputy Director of Facilities Management for Physical Plant and Facilities



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