For over 22 years, Larry has maintained Domestic and International portions of the AOL/Oath real estate portfolio and most recently managed the NYC offices. This consisted of numerous properties over the years and currently, a studio and Headquarters office totaling approximately 340,000 sf. In addition to the day to day operations for both offices, he supported all aspects of facilities including moves, space planning, event support, design/construction projects, reception, security and mail shipping and receiving and food services for 2 very dynamic offices with approximately 1,500 employees.
“Larry provided key oversight to maintain operating budgets and initiated cost efficiency projects in an ongoing effort of continual improvements to both services and expense management. Customer service and user experience was a top priority and Larry had continued success in achieving high marks in supporting the business from a facilities standpoint.” - Al Nielsen, Vice President, Corporate Services, AOL/Oath
What is one thing that no one knows about you?
“I have a Commercial Driver’s License I drove a tractor-trailer over 300,000 accident free miles through 46 of lower 48 States in the US & Canada and was a driver/trainer for new team members. The job and experience underscored my work ethic to arrive early, prepare for the unexpected, take care of (and have pride in) what you have, and the importance of safety.”
How did you get into the Facilities/Real Estate field?
“The first wrench turn occurred in the oil & gas industry as a well tester and the first nail was driven in a small construction company. While not traditional facility roles, each job was physically and mentally demanding and the experience became one of the cornerstones when I entered the Facility field - the importance of teamwork, interconnection of roles and accountability.
Years later, AOL opened a call center in Oklahoma City. I started as a Community Action Team representative to adjudicate member reports, then moved to a team lead role. Due to growth in the Call Center, the Facility Manager needed a Facility Assistant. I applied, was hired and from there had opportunities to work in variety of Facility Management rolls; national call center operations, international facility operations and day-to-day operations at the Headquarters office in New York City. Extensive international travel allowed tremendous opportunities that I wouldn’t have had in any other role.”
Tell us about a favorite project highlight.
“Throughout my career, I worked on a variety of meaningful projects; new build and fit out projects throughout the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, India, China and Philippines; business continuity preparation; office re-configurations to accommodate acquisition activity; decommission/dilapidation work to align with real estate strategy.
Through a partnership with Dasher Hurst Architects, in 2002 AOL opened the Jacksonville call center. The call center employed 1,900 team members with a capacity to handle 85,000 calls each day. Early in the process the team collaborated with Herman-Miller to create a new, enhanced workstation design to accommodate equipment smartly, increase the working surface and provide ergonomically efficient layout. At the time it was quite progressive, and the success of the project was a partnership and communication between facilities, space planning, real estate, design/construction and the business unit.”
What is your greatest success story?
“The story isn’t about my success, it’s about the success of team members, peers and colleagues I work with every day. This was prominently demonstrated in 2012’s catastrophic Hurricane Sandy event. Team members (FM, Property Management, Engineers, Cleaning Crew, etc.) in essential roles worked long hours in adverse conditions to ensure critical operations remained uninterrupted and offices were opened timely. Only together can we build success stories.”
Tell us about a challenge or obstacle that you face in the Real Estate/Facilities world.
“Many challenges exist. From permits, final design, operation of critical equipment, up time - all can be remedied with the allocation of time, money and resources. In my experience, a growing challenge can be summed up in one word: Technology.
From BMS applications, sustainability and predictive modeling to critical monitoring, PM and on-demand work order systems – tools and applications are helpful for decision-making, customer interactions and vendor management. The use of technology to address, evaluate and solve Facility related items are paramount for the industry. Challenges come into play based on organizational/ platform network architecture, security protocols, financial and technical resources and ease of use for the customers. The FM role will need to quickly incorporate and be at ease with technology.”
What learning experience would you pass onto future FM’s?
“Remain flexible, be willing to pivot quickly, focus on problem solving and remember the customer’s point of view. Facilities role is to support the business while creating a safe and productive work environment for employees, customers and visitors. My Facilities Management career has been incredibly rewarding and always look forward to new opportunities and challenges.”
Interviewed by Sonya Verny of IA Interior Architects, IFMA NYC Secretary