Leadership and Legacy in School Facilities Management

Brian Gregory [00:00:01]:
Hi everybody, this is your host Brian for the Beyond Buildings podcast, where we meet innovative and inspiring facilities leaders from across the country. In this episode, I have the pleasure of chatting with Paul Schuler, who is the Manager of Maintenance for St. Vrain School District. Paul has had many experiences over his long career, both working in the trades and working in leadership. He had worked in a school district in his past and left the private sector before returning to K-12 later in his career. And in doing so, he highlights some of the main attractions that brought him back to being a K-12 facilities leader. And he does this in a way that I've yet to hear anybody else articulate. I think it's really motivating and will resonate with many of you.

Brian Gregory [00:00:37]:
He also shares how his unique background has helped him with leading his team, including something he does called Trades Day Fridays. Paul is a very genuine and impactful leader and this one is definitely worth a listen. Let's dive in. Hi Paul. Thanks so much for hopping on the podcast today. Just before we get started, let's just jump in a little bit to your background. So tell us about how you started your career and how you ended up there at St. Brain.

Paul Schuler [00:01:01]:
Okay, so actually went to college and was a law enforcement major. And this is back in the mid 70s. And I actually was hired by the Loveland, Colorado police Department, but they wanted to wait to hire me because they paid a bonus for college graduates. And at that time I had one more semester that I had to complete. So they were willing to do that. And in the meantime, I got married. And fortunately, or unfortunately, some people might say my wife pregnant on our second day of our honeymoon. And we were young, real young.

Paul Schuler [00:01:41]:
And she just was very fearful of taking that big leap to move somewhere where there wasn't family and friends and stuff around. So here I am waiting to be hired by somebody else, and now I've got a child on the way. And I just said, well, look, I could go to work somewhere. And as a kid growing up, I have two brothers and we would just drag any kind of stuff home that was mechanical and work on it or fix it or whatever. And we had dirt bikes and cars and trucks and anything like that, go carts growing up and I had learned some welding and I went to work for it, heavy equipment dealer. And while I was working for them, I also went to trade school, to welding school. And then I moved from their parts department into their service department. I worked as a welder for a while, and by the time police departments in that area were ready to hire, and I was offered a position then I was making twice as much money as a starting police officer by that time.

Paul Schuler [00:02:44]:
I have a second child on the way. And I just said, well, it looks like I'm not going to be a police officer and provide for my family. And my wife and I, we both agreed we wanted her to stay home with our kids and raise them that way. So anyway, I welded for this company for a while, and then I was hired by a big hydraulic repair machine shop to be their welder and then also to be a shop foreman of a very growing machine business. Did that for probably four years, I guess. Then the owner and myself didn't see things eye to eye on how to treat customers, and I went to work for a different hydraulic shop. And while I was there, the owner came to me one day and said, you constantly see these electricians coming in and out of our place. Would you have any interest in me paying for an apprenticeship program for you and you going through a four year apprenticeship and becoming a licensed electrician? And then you can handle all the electrical needs for our facility.

Paul Schuler [00:01:41]:
And that's what I did. And became a licensed electrician in 1988, worked for this machine shop for a while, then also went out into the trade world. And in '93 we were kind of in a tough economic time in southern Indiana. I was having trouble finding enough work to stay busy without having to travel a lot. And my wife heard from a friend of hers that our local school district was looking for electricians and took a job with our local school district. And then along the way got introduced greatly to the HVAC mechanical world and worked for a while as a technician and then into lower-level management. And then I was there up until 2004, I was there as a manager of maintenance in that school district and then took a kind of career diversion into the insurance world for about seven years. And then, Brian, as you and I were talking, circumstances brought me to Colorado and I went back into the trades, worked for a contractor for a while who was HVAC plumbing contractor.

Paul Schuler [00:05:01]:
So I was doing plumbing work as well as HVAC work, and then I always wanted to get back to a school district if I possibly could. And fortunately, in 2013, St. Vrain School District here in Longmont, Colorado, hired me as their HVAC mechanical department lead and served in that role for about two years and then promoted to the manager of maintenance here. And that's where I've been ever since. We're a large school district, 53 schools, I'm sorry, 56 schools, a little over 60 facilities. Say 5 million square feet of building on 900 acres of property spread out over 411 square miles. So it's quite big, it's quite good.

Paul Schuler [00:05:52]:
But I'm still today a licensed electrician. I'd say if I have specialties, it would be in that area. And HVAC mechanical. Every Tuesday we've got young HVAC technicians and that's one of the things we can talk about a little bit. Brian, I think one of the biggest challenges for anybody is the availability of good trade individuals that you can hire. That's something that's really heavy on everybody's mind, and that's what we've had to do the last four vacancies that we've had. We really just had to find good young guys that wanted to grow and wanted to learn and had a little bit of experience, but not the level of a full blown technician. And I go over every Tuesday and spend about an hour and a half with those young guys.

Paul Schuler [00:06:44]:
And now some older guys are filtering into that training session where I just teach them how to troubleshoot wiring diagrams and equipment and whether it's a chiller, whether it's a boiler, whether it's a rooftop unit, teaching them the whole electrical side. Yeah. So there you go.

Brian Gregory [00:05:51]:
That's great, Paul. I mean, from Indiana to Florida to Colorado and head jobs in between, you got quite the perspective, that's for sure. And it sounds like St. Brain is lucky to have you and you're lucky to have them ending up back in the school segment, one of the things I typically ask folks, and you've been in K-12 facilities and then left and came back. I've asked folks before when they joined K-12, like joined public facilities, what were the differences they noticed between private work and public work? But for you, I guess maybe what drew you back? I mean, you were in the K-12 side, you left, probably made more money, could continue to make more money, but something brought you back to working for a school system. So I'm just curious, what was that thing that pulled you back?

Paul Schuler [00:07:46]:
Yeah, that's a good question. That's something we talk about all the time. Well, number one, I really like the idea of working for the owner of the equipment rather than working for a contractor. So what that says to me is we don't have to try to make money at this. So I'm constantly reinforcing the idea that, hey, we're the owners, we got to take care of this stuff, do the job right. You're not being pushed to get in and get out the door. And get it solved as fast as you can. So let's take the extra steps.

Paul Schuler [00:08:21]:
And hey, there may be something that is leading up to this problem. That is, we're fixing it. A lot of times when the contracting world. You're fixing the symptom and not the real problem. That's the one thing that always drew me back, whether it's a public entity, whatever, but you're the owner of the equipment, you're the owner of the facilities. You got to take care of those things. Again, let's do it right. The other thing is, I really like the culture to think that we really are a key piece in the education process, because once again, any distractions that that teacher has in his or her classroom or those kids have, whether it's lights don't work or it's too hot, it's too cold, windows don't seal right, or whiteboards aren't in the right place for that teacher.

Paul Schuler [00:09:16]:
Anything that we can do to aid that education process and make it where, hey, that teacher, all she has to do is worry about or he. All they have to do is worry about teaching the kids. All they have to do is worry about learning. And it's a good environment. It's clean, it's comfortable. St. Brain is a more wealthy school district, I'd say population wise, than what it was in southern Indiana. I used to tell people like, hey, there's a lot of kids that go to our school district, that this is the cleanest, safest, most comfortable, most reinforcing environment that they have in their day.

Paul Schuler [00:09:57]:
And we're a part of that. I think kind of those two things have always drawn me to ensure the hours are better. A lot of times 6ish to 4ish, Monday through Friday. And I don't really get bothered very much. I work really hard on training the people below me. I tell them, you don't want me to micromanage you because you're going to hate it, and I want to hate it, but I'm going to do everything that I can for you so that you can run your department and you can handle things. And yeah, if it's something big that I really need to know about, well, these are the things that I need to know about, or these are the things that I need to be involved in. But other than that, you don't need to worry about calling me about every little thing.

Paul Schuler [00:10:43]:
And I'm very seldom bothered at nights or on the weekends. And obviously that's an attraction for all the other stuff that I like doing. As compared to when you're a contractor. And he says, hey, you got to have that thing fixed before you leave there. And it's 9:00 at night and you're still working on it. You're still working on it where we don't have that situation unless it's some kind of emergency waterline breaking.

Brian Gregory [00:11:08]:

Paul Schuler [00:11:09]:
We're there until it's fixed, until it's cleaned up.

Brian Gregory [00:11:12]:
It's the exception, though, not the rule.

Paul Schuler [00:11:14]:

Brian Gregory [00:11:15]:
I've asked this question several times, and you're the first one to bring up the point about being the owner versus the contractor. I think that's a really interesting perspective and probably one that resonates with others, but maybe they haven't put their finger on it. That's a good one. And then your point, too. It's both inspiring and motivational, but also kind of sad in some ways to think about what you shared with the kiddos, this being kind of the safest and most regulating space. And then I know we had a chance to connect briefly before hopping on here. And we both have people we love in our lives that have special needs. I've got twin boys, and I think you got a grandchild, and you see that on the rise.

Brian Gregory [00:11:50]:
And the educational environment, it's important for every kid. But certainly, if you've got special needs, it can be the difference between being available for learning or not. Maybe all you're focusing on is the light flickering or that it's uncomfortable or whatever.

Paul Schuler [00:12:06]:

Brian Gregory [00:12:07]:
So you're back at St. Vrain. So you've been there, you said, since 2013, but in this current role, since maybe 2015, 2016.

Paul Schuler [00:12:14]:

Brian Gregory [00:12:14]:
If you think about your time there, what are some of the challenges that you guys have had to overcome? I mean, obviously, everybody was hit by Covid and the challenges associated with that, but I'm sure you've seen many other things, maybe from building new buildings or planning for replacement of equipment. Are there any things that stick out to you as you reflect over the last maybe seven, eight years that have been learning moments for you?

Paul Schuler [00:12:35]:
I mean, obviously you're always learning. Like you said, I shared with you earlier, this is my 24th year in school facility maintenance, and there's never a time that goes by that I don't learn something. And I've always been that way, like, okay, here we are. Now, what's the next step, and where do you go from here? And how do you improve this? Or how do you improve that? Here at St. Vrain, I have one benefit and one challenge. We are a wealthy school district, but because we are growing. And a lot of people in public school business will understand this, that as you're growing, obviously your income is growing at the same time. And I don't have a superintendent that would ever allow me to say, we can't do this. Once again, this is in the maintenance world.

Paul Schuler [00:13:30]:
We can't fix this, or that can't be fixed because we don't have the money for it. And that could be a boiler that costs you $75,000 to replace all the way down to a compressor that might be $2,500. Our superintendent would never accept the fact that I would say, hey, I don't have budget for this. And he'd say, well, you're going to find the money for it because you're going to fix it. And he realizes that I'll just go negative and they'll cover it, but he's not ever going to accept that. So that's one benefit that I have in this school district. The other side of that is because we are growing. We're having to build new schools all the time, and we've built five new schools in the last.

Paul Schuler [00:14:13]:
Well, since I've been the manager of maintenance since 2016. And right now, we are in the process of planning to build another high school. We have seven high schools right now, and we're going to build another high school. We're also going to build another K-8 school. And probably the next five to seven years, there'll be two or three more elementary schools as well. Now, the challenge there is that, once again, you only have so much money and you only have so much bonding capacity to be able to fund the new construction that there's not the available dollars, so to speak, to plan. Okay, we got to do x number of roofs every year. We got to do x number of parking lots every year.

Paul Schuler [00:14:59]:
We have to do x number of rooftop units or chillers or boilers, once again, kind of gets pushed aside because the dollars are only so many dollars. So I say all the time to my assistant superintendent of operations, that we're driving a lot of vehicles around, not real vehicles, but I'm. I'm alluding to equipment that have 300,000 miles on them. Okay. They're. They're beyond their given life expectancy, whether it's a boiler, whether it's a chiller, whatever. And can we fix it? Sure, in most cases, is it going to break down? Sure. We don't know when and when is that stuff going to get replaced.

Paul Schuler [00:15:43]:
That's the challenges I mean, obviously, I've got the benefit of a superintendent that is in the board that has really done a fantastic job of finances, and we have a significant cash balance as a district. But on the other side of it, you're not being able to replace big pieces of equipment in a timely fashion because there's just not enough dollars there. So there you go.

Brian Gregory [00:16:07]:
Yeah, no, that's interesting. And actually had a conversation with the facility's leader out of Huntley schools, and one of the things they mentioned is they had a lot of schools that were designed with energy efficiency in mind, but not necessarily lifecycle cost. So there were some pieces of equipment, like high efficiency condensing boilers, that, from an efficiency standpoint, certainly beat out the standard boilers. But from a lifecycle cost, even taking in the savings actually costs far more to operate.

Paul Schuler [00:16:31]:
I've got a geothermal heat pump school that was built in 2009, and we probably replaced close to 30 of the compressors in those pieces of equipment that serve that. And then, as a lot of people know, all those systems are R-22 refrigerant, which the EPA now has officially said, you can't manufacture R-22, you can't buy new R-22 units. And that's going that way with 410 as well. And I'd say the vast majority of my HVAC equipment is R-22 or R 410. And I remember I was back doing HVAC work years ago. You can buy 30 pounds of R-22 for $27, and now it's 30 pounds. It's $1,500.

Brian Gregory [00:17:18]:
Wow. Going to go see your dealer, right? It's almost like a controlled substance or something, like meeting the back alley. Look what I got in my trunk here.

Paul Schuler [00:17:27]:
Yeah, that's wild one.

Brian Gregory [00:17:29]:
Yeah, Geothermal, too. One of the things. Not to get down a rabbit hole, but sometimes we've seen situations where you save overall energy, but electricity costs more than natural gas. And so even though the building might be better from a BTU per square foot standpoint, it's not better from a dollars per square foot standpoint.

Paul Schuler [00:17:43]:
But it is classic. The more efficient you make something, the more times you're going to have to lay your hand on that piece of equipment. I mean, I've got a 2003 jeep and shoot. I've been changing the oil and rotating the tires. I don't have to do anything to it. Very seldom put my hands on it to fix something. But then my wife's got a BMW X5, and that thing's nice, and it sure is a joy to ride. But I always say that BMW stands for bring my wrenches, because there's always something that. Something that once again creates its efficiency.

Paul Schuler [00:18:26]:
That this little sensor is off, or this little thing doesn't work right. Or that little thing doesn't work right. I mean, the engine, transmission, drivetrain, all that stuff, all the mechanical side is solid. It's the controls. And that's the same thing with your high efficiency boilers. I've got cast iron sectional boilers that are 80 years old, still running every single day and day in and day out. And then I've got brand new high efficiency stuff that we were talking earlier about, that cold weather event that we had. We have several of them.

Paul Schuler [00:19:01]:
Those high efficiency boilers go down because they have filters on the intake air, on the combustion air coming in, and the cold weather actually created condensation on top of those filters and froze those filters, so then the boilers couldn't breathe.

Brian Gregory [00:19:16]:
Oh, jeez.

Paul Schuler [00:19:17]:
And I don't have that with an old 80 year old cast iron sectional boiler at all.

Brian Gregory [00:19:23]:
Yeah, that's certainly something to consider. And I think. Did you find, during the construction process, were you a voice in the room as far as being able to advocate for what you wanted to see?

Paul Schuler [00:19:33]:
Yeah. There's another good thing about our school district. We have a maintenance department. We have a construction department, and our assistant superintendent does not allow us as a department to kind of work in our own silo. He demands that everybody works together. We're all a team. We all affect each other, and we are, as a maintenance group, we are very involved in any new construction, any remodeling. Our project managers are always bringing drawings for smiddles and all that stuff to our maintenance department and making sure that we're fine with it.

Paul Schuler [00:20:10]:
Hey, do we get everything that we want? No, because there are budgetary limits. Any remodel, and it's a balance, because you have the whole education side of it that plays into that as well as side of it. And we don't always get what we want, but for the most part, I'd say that we get most of what we want. And they're very in tune and like, hey, if we got to put new boilers in a facility, what kind of boilers are those? And, well, hey, we can buy cheaper boilers than that. But they don't. They listen to us. They know we know what we're working on and what we're doing. There's a good trust factor between the two.

Paul Schuler [00:20:53]:
And my director, who's over construction and maintenance, he strongly supports that teamwork and insists on that teamwork as well. And it really works out really well because I've been in school district before where the construction department and I know fellow districts around me that are like this, they give the lip service to the maintenance, and then when the project is done, they hand them the keys and the maintenance is going like, what the heck?

Brian Gregory [00:21:20]:
What did you just build?

Paul Schuler [00:21:22]:
We said, don't do that, and they do it anyway. Right. And we don't have that. We know what we're going to get before we get it. And I do insist that all of our trade groups, we have seven different trade groups that obviously are involved in any kind of site, facility, whatever. I insist that they go to project meetings. They go to the weekly meetings with the contractors and architects and engineers, and also that they're on site doing walk throughs in new construction or remodeling. So once again, you got to make sure that the contractors all the way down to that electrician out there or that HVAC guy out there, that plumber, he's doing rights and installing it the way the drawings tell him to install it, they're not short changing you.

Paul Schuler [00:22:12]:
So it's a big cooperative. And I can't say that we're perfect, but I'd say we're far ahead of a lot of school districts in that respect. So it's really good.

Brian Gregory [00:22:23]:
Yeah. Well, it sounds like you've got really supportive and understanding leadership, which goes a long way. I guess, along those lines, you mentioned kind of how you're managing down and how you're recruiting kind of younger folks and training them up. And I want to get into more about that. But also, just curious, what do you provide in return to your leadership? I mean, obviously, you got to support. There's a lot of trust. How do you retain that trust from them? Are there any ongoing reports that you give them or how do you maintain visibility?

Paul Schuler [00:22:55]:
Well, I think two things is, number one, with my immediate director and then our Assistant Superintendent of Operations, I have a weekly meeting with them, and it's to keep that communication open and talk about the challenges, talk about things that I see and that we do and that kind of mean. Brian, you're just talking to me already. You know that I'm very experienced. I could literally go into any of our trade groups and work as a technician with all the background that I've had. And so I think that aids that they know that I'm not going to do something shady. This is a book that my younger son, who's a lieutenant with the Texas highway patrol gave me, and I don't know if you remember this admiral, but he was one that did that make your bed speech.

Brian Gregory [00:23:56]:

Paul Schuler [00:23:56]:
Have you seen that? I have seen that.

Brian Gregory [00:23:59]:
One of our teammates shared that, start your day off making your bed and then follows anyway.

Paul Schuler [00:24:08]:
This wisdom of the bullfrog. I just am reading and he says that if you violate your oath, your code of conduct, the base and decency with which you live your life and run your business, then eventually you'll lose the respect of the men and women you serve, and the opposite becomes your fate. The leaders above me know me well enough that I have gained that trust. But the other side of that is you have to deliver. Right? So you can't just say you're going to do it and then not do it. Because I tell my staff, hey, people remember you far longer for what you say that you're going to do and you don't do than what you say you're going to do and you do. Just keep that in mind. And we have to deliver.

Paul Schuler [00:24:56]:
Obviously, Brian, your company is in the work order business, in the work order management. And one of the things that I constantly monitor is how many work orders are being created by the end user and what percentage of work orders are once again by the schools, by the facilities out there. Because that tells me if it's a high percentage, that tells me that people out there in the buildings have bought into, hey, I'm keeping track of my building. I want my building to be good. I want my building to be repaired. And they send those work orders in. But the other side of that is we have to deliver. You can't just let them feel like they're shoving work orders off in a big black hole and nothing ever gets done.

Paul Schuler [00:25:41]:
So once again, you earn respect by doing things that get you respect and keep you respect. And talking to my staff today, we kind of that little bit of a lull now, okay? You've got through the first half of the school year, middle of winter. You don't have all kinds of stuff going on all over the place. It's pretty soon spring break, and then we head towards graduation. And then it's just like my work orders, obviously, in August and may go through the freaking roof because everybody wants something perfect for the start of school and they want it perfect for the end of school. We have to perform. And that's what I see that constantly. And I do.

Paul Schuler [00:26:23]:
I spend a meeting scheduled with every single principal of every single school once a year just to sit down and I call it my maintenance check in. I just sit down and get to know that person if they're new, reaffirm old relationships, if they've been there for a while. But it's really about, hey, how are we doing? What do you feel? How do you see maintenance? What's a problem? What's not a problem? I tell people all the time, we get 24,000 plus work orders a year, and we have 70 employees in our maintenance group. So do the math. And how many work orders that is that we have to address. And a lot of times we can see two work orders that look exactly the same. And one site, they may not communicate it, but it might be all right if that gets done in a month. And the other site, like, I really need that done in the next three days.

Paul Schuler [00:27:14]:
So I always want to make sure that our building principals, they know me, they got my cell phone number, they got a problem, they need something they can call. And same thing with my assistant, Leslie Jones is also our dispatcher for all of our work. They know they can call Leslie. And Leslie's really experienced as well, and she knows the right ropes to pull with my trade supervisors to get stuff done. And that's what we want, is we want them to know that, hey, we're here. Can we always satisfy every little need? No, because of time constraints. But we certainly want to do all that we can, and we have to be able to juggle. So, kind of getting back to, how did I get where I'm at, where people above me trust me and people below me trust me, and we do what we say we're going to do and we deliver.

Brian Gregory [00:28:13]:
Yeah. No, I mean, it's one of those things that sometimes it's easy to say, it's harder to do, but if you do it good, and, I mean, thinking about how many principles you have, if you met with one a week, you wouldn't get it done in a year. So it's pretty admirable that you're doing that. And probably part of your success comes from that relationship as well.

Paul Schuler [00:28:32]:
Yeah, it's usually about four or five of them a week right now, especially this time of year. In fact, I think I got two of them today after we finished our podcast.

Brian Gregory [00:28:45]:
Yeah, it's something. I'm wondering if others are taking advantage of that opportunity or not. But if they aren't, that's probably a good thing to try doing. Do you have any sort of format for that? Or is it usually just kind of a loose agenda? You just meet and kind of things. You mentioned what's not working, what is working?

Paul Schuler [00:28:59]:
Yeah, it kind of varies there. I don't really say I have a format. I mean, obviously we have, because of the size of our school district, we have new principals every year, a couple, three maybe. And obviously you want to spend extra time with he or she because they have no experience with the whole work order system and what maintenance really does and how they look and what can they do, what can't they do and that kind of stuff. And then you have the opposite ends of guys just like, what's the agenda for today? And it's like, well, just like yesterday, one of my elementary school principals, he and I go back all the way back, and we've always had a great relationship. And it's just like all Ryan, it's just to see you and hang out with you a little bit and talk about anything that we want to talk about. But once again, you know, you can call me. You know, he goes, yeah.

Paul Schuler [00:29:58]:
And he goes, and I call you and he gets stuff done. So it kind of spans the. And I try to kind of cater it to. And there again, everybody can identify this. You got principals that you have to kind of hold their hand a little bit. Other principals that, they're just like, hey, I need this taken care of. Can you take care of it for me? Fine. Okay.

Paul Schuler [00:28:11]:
Talk to you later.

Brian Gregory [00:30:18]:
It remind me of some of those, I don't know if you've ever seen those little charts where it's like, here's my price to fix this. Here's my price to fix it if you want to watch. And here's my price to fix it if you want to help. And the price just keeps going up all the way through it.

Paul Schuler [00:30:34]:

Brian Gregory [00:30:35]:
Anyway, that's interesting, Paul. Well, hey, man, I do want to be respectful of time for you kind of moving topic a little bit, like just thinking about the whole career you've had. If you were going to speak to others that are either current maintenance managers, facilities directors, or that want to get in that space, what advice would you give to them knowing what you know now?

Paul Schuler [00:30:56]:
Really, I think the biggest thing that I could say, it's really all the people below you. And like I said, this is the second school district that I've been with. But I mean, I always say I've been in machine shops and I've been in welding shops and I've been in the trades and I've been all around. And it really is number one, it's the people that you can find. But then number two, and really, the biggest thing is it's you, okay, can all of my guys go someplace else and make more money and all that kind of stuff? And all of them have to do things because they're told they have to do that. But you really want employees that want to do it, that buy into it, that they feel like, hey, this guy's supporting us and he's taking care of us, and he's doing everything he can for us to enable us to just go out, do our job. And that's what I would say is find good people. And when you find good people, you really got to build into their lives.

Paul Schuler [00:32:00]:
John Maxwell, he's a big leadership guru, and he's got a book that basically talks about certain levels of leadership. And we all start out as, hey, you got to do this because I told you you have to do this. And does that work? Sure, but how about getting to the level of that guy will run through the brick wall for you because he wants to. So there again, I'd say anybody that wants to be successful in this, you got to find good people. And once you find them, you got to continue to build into their lives. And like I said, I've got 70 employees in my group. I know every single one of their names by their face. I manage by walking around.

Paul Schuler [00:32:44]:
I know that I can say all I want to. Hey, my door is open if you need to talk, you need to see me, just come see me. And they won't until it's really bad. Their situation is really bad. But I couldn't tell you how many times I've been out in the field and starting to walk away from talking to somebody. And there again, maybe not talking about what they're doing. It's like, hey, John, man, how's your kids doing? How's your wife, sue? I try to learn something about every single one of them as well. So I couldn't tell you the number of times I started to walk away from somebody and they'll go, hey, man, can I talk to you about something? Sure.

Paul Schuler [00:33:22]:
And one of the things that I've just recently started doing this, and I haven't been real consistent because obviously I'm pulled from both ends, but I kind of been blocking out my schedule on Friday, and I call it Work With a Trade Friday. So I read a book not too long ago called leadership strategy and tactics. I love books like this. Another one? Yeah, man, you're, well reading. One of the things he says in his book is he's like, hey, you, as a leader, you need to make sure that you convey the thought that there's no job below you that's too menial, okay. Or you wouldn't do it yourself. And you really need to go out and do those things. And so, like, when I started my Work With a Trade Friday, I thought about, okay, what's the most menial task in my whole maintenance group? And it's weed eating, okay, so you go, say you go to a high school site, 65 acres, and yeah, you could cut and mow that thing, but it needs to be trimmed to look good.

Paul Schuler [00:34:29]:
And I spent an entire day with one of my mow crews and I just weed eated for 8 hours just to show everybody out there like, hey, this isn't below me, and don't think I can't do it. And I've done that along the way here. Every now and then I'll say to one of my supervisors, hey, give me somebody I can go be with for a couple of hours. And of course, you kind of get that look on their face when you drive up. And then it's just like, hey, listen, I'm not here to see what you're doing or to judge what you're doing. I'm here to work right along beside you and do the exact same thing. In other words, you tell me what you want me to do. I got to be more consistent at that, and I'm really going to work on that over this year.

Paul Schuler [00:35:15]:
But there again, find good people and take care of good people and be the leader for them that they want to follow. And I tell people like, hey, one of these days I'm going to walk out this door and I know I won't accomplish everything that I want to accomplish or get everything that I want to get or do everything that I want to do for my group. But I want them to say, that guy right there, he really tried for us. He really backed us. He really did everything he could in his power to help us. And we're going to miss that guy when he leaves. There you go. Good people and good leadership.

Brian Gregory [00:35:54]:
Well, yeah, that's pretty impactful, Paul. I mean, I was looking for a job and I lived in Colorado. You might be on the list for sure.

Paul Schuler [00:36:05]:
I'm looking for a plumber right now, Brian.

Brian Gregory [00:36:07]:
Yeah, well, you know, you never know some days. Well, thanks so much, man. I just really appreciate your time. Just in the hour we spent together, it's clear you're a very genuine person, a very genuine leader, and your team's lucky to have you. I'm glad you got the team you have as well. I think you're lucky to have them. And thank you for.

Paul Schuler [00:36:26]:
Yeah, I'd say more I'm lucky to have them.

Brian Gregory [00:36:29]:
Thanks for your time, man, and see you down the road.

Creators and Guests

Brian Gregory
Brian Gregory
Brian is the founder and CEO of FMX, a leading provider of facilities and maintenance management software.
Paul Schuler
Paul Schuler
Paul Schuler is the Manager of Maintenance at St. Vrain Valley School District.
Leadership and Legacy in School Facilities Management
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