FM Spotlight

FM Spotlight: Frank Horak – Arnold & Porter LLP

This month’s FM spotlight is Frank Horak, Facilities Manager at leading international law firm – Arnold & Porter LLP.  In his 17 years of Facilities Management experience, Frank has had the honor of meeting many interesting people such as  James Earl Jones, the President of Costa Rica and Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President  Obama.

“Frank Horak is an indispensable part of my team.  He is solution driven, organized, thinks out of the box, and always quick-witted and reliable.  He managed several construction build-outs successfully and he truly understands the capacities of our space and transforms it to meet our various needs.  He communicates masterfully.  He is also a really fun and funny colleague.” - Kelli B. Cooney, Director of Administration at Arnold & Porter

What is one thing that no one knows about you?
“I am a lifelong Dead Head. I thought I would grow out of listening to the Grateful Dead but the older I get the more I continue to enjoy it.”

How did you get into the Facilities field?
“I started in 1974 in mortgage accounting for Lincoln Savings Bank. After a few stints as a computer control analyst for Dun & Bradstreet, Schaefer Brewing Company and Kraus Management I landed at the law firm of Coudert Brothers as an Accounting Operations Manager.

Fifteen years later, in 1997, I was promoted to Director of Office Services and Facilities for Coudert Brothers. Being from an accounting background, gave me a leg up on understanding budgets and cost control which I find to be paramount in Facilities. Coudert Brothers, after being in business for 155 years, went out of business in 2005. I was on the firms wind down team for the firm’s dissolution until I started at Arnold & Porter as their Facilities Manager in May of 2006.”

Tell us about a favorite project highlight.
“At Coudert as the Office Services and Facilities Director, I was the project manager for the installation of a new telephone system as well as the build out of the 36th floor to be sublet in addition to other build outs on our occupied floors as the firm expanded and contracted. I was also charged with developing the offices Disaster Recovery manual after 9/11.

At Arnold & Porter, I was the project manager on a construction refresh of all of our at the time four floors that was done in 2006/2007 while the floors were still occupied (over 100,000 square feet). This involved shifting and doubling up people on one side of a floor while construction was being done on the other. Logistically this was quite a challenge. Our last major construction project was last year when we took over a floor (approximately 25k square feet) and made half the floor for our occupancy and half for a subtenant.”

What is your greatest success story?
“The beauty of being a Facilities Manager is that you are into everything that goes on in the office. From build outs to special events, to people coming and going, you are in the middle of it. In my role in Facilities, I’ve met heads of state, politicians and movie stars. It has made for a very diverse and exciting experience.”

Tell us about a challenge or obstacle that you face in the Real Estate/Facilities world.
“Keeping up with the latest technologies and trends as they relate to facilities. Law firms tend not to be cutting edge when it comes to technology or trends, so it’s up to you to see what’s new and different and if it will help you to be more cost efficient in what you do.”

What learning experience would you pass onto future FM’s?
“Communications is the key. Never assume that whoever you are dealing with knows what you are talking about. Ask questions. It is better to ask a stupid question and have people think that you don’t know what you are talking about, than not ask questions, make the mistake and leave no doubt that you do not know what you are talking about.”

Interviewed by Sonya Verny of IA Interior Architects, IFMA NYC Secretary.