Ethan Fitterman is the first in a series of 2022 Facilities Champion Profiles sponsored by Ferguson Facilities Supply. September 7, 2022
Ethan Fitterman, recipient of the 2022 Facility Champion Award, is an exception. He knew early on that facilities would be his eventual career path.
“For a few summers in high school and college, I worked on a golf course on Long Island for their groundskeeping crew,” says Fitterman. “That’s when I started hearing the term facilities. After two years of studying architecture, I realized that architecture was not my passion and I decided to change schools. While transferring from college, I found out that the school I was transferring to had a facilities management program that I knew I had to enroll in.
Fitterman, Chief Aesthetics Engineer for Mariott International – Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center in Colorado, grew up in New York City, where he also began his career as an assistant and facilities coordinator at two different companies. Her duties included managing small renovation projects, supervising power outages, coordinating contractor work, and creating and processing purchase orders, among other duties.
Seeking a change of scenery, Fitterman found a job as engineering manager at a downtown Denver hotel where he oversaw central plant operations and the HVAC and laundry crews before landing at his current job, one of Colorado’s largest hotels, which he helped open. He has held his current position for three and a half years.
“I currently oversee our customer service technicians, craftsmen, and room preventive maintenance (RPM) teams,” he says. “I also oversee our grounds, which I work in partnership with our landscaping contractor, and participate in capital expenditure projects while aiming to improve our customer survey maintenance and upkeep scores on a daily basis and manage our operational and contractual budgets.”
Of course, as facility managers know all too well, these job requirements often require tasks outside of the job description. An example of Fitterman’s leadership was on display during the convention center’s opening months, when a new venue was just beginning to take off.
“I was very grateful for Ethan’s leadership one night in our opening month, we had a back-up sewer main,” says Gaylord’s Jim Obermeier, who appointed Fitterman. “Everyone was overworked and Ethan said he had everything under control. Working through the night, he and his team were able to discover the problem. A contractor had shut down the mainline with a 4-for-4 in it; a intentional act of sabotage that popped in. What started as a clogged toilet call for one of his teams turned into a weeks-long event having to mitigate and rebuild several rooms and a hallway. all of his opening responsibilities, Ethan took charge of that and executed perfectly.
Fitterman defines success as succeeding in two components: communication and relationship building.
“I’ve found that sometimes you have to think outside the box and really focus on your audience,” he says. “For example, when I send a calendar invitation to the departments that will be affected by this work. In the body of the invitation, I will edit floor plans in Adobe Acrobat and area images so the team is aware of the exact location and type of work being done.
Regarding the second element, “I have found that taking the time to have individual projects or walks with the team has proven to have a positive impact on the results. Anyone can email or text in an image, but is your message really getting through? Taking the time to walk with an associate can be very impactful. This is where you really get to know someone and learn from them.
Ethan Fitterman is the first in a series of 2022 Facilities Champion Profiles sponsored by Ferguson Facilities Supply. Fitterman and other champions have been recognized for their leadership and creativity in facilities management by FacilitiesNet. Winners were invited to participate in a Facilities Champions Roundtable at NFMT Remix at Paris Las Vegas Resort on November 2-3.
Dave Lubach is editor of Facilities Market.