This month’s FM spotlight is Carl Thomas, National Facilities Director at the premier provider of educational services for individuals, schools, and businesses worldwide - Kaplan. Carl handles over 200+ locations and approximately 3MM square feet. He is currently a member of IFMA, CoreNet, PRSM and the Tri State League of Facilities Professionals.
“Carl Thomas is a one of kind person. Besides being a highly qualified Facilities Director, Carl is also a family and community minded individual. As Director of National Facilities for Kaplan, we feel perfectly secure that our premises will be well looked after with Carl's technical capabilities.” - Jeffrey L. Elie, Vice President, Global Real Estate and Facilities - Kaplan, Inc.
What is one thing that no one knows about you?
“I guess the one thing that not too many people know is that I have served as a New York State Fire Commissioner for the past 10 years. I am on a board of 5 Commissioners who handle the operation of our local Fire District. We handle the procurement of equipment/apparatus, buildings and grounds maintenance, insurance/pensions and administration of personnel.”
How did you get into the Facilities field?
“I began my career in a family owned construction business working in all phases of construction. Once I graduated college, I interviewed for a job with a bank as a Property Inspector handling foreclosed properties. From there, I was promoted to a Branch Facilities Manager which began my career in Facilities and Property Management.”
Tell us about a favorite project highlight
“Some of my project highlights have been the replacement of the Data Center infrastructure while working for JLL and the relocation of corporate offices, construction management of new space in NYC while working for Kaplan.
One of my largest projects was working for Kaplan when they decided to relocate three offices from 888 7th Ave, 1440 Broadway and 1 Liberty Plaza all into our current location at 395 Hudson St. The renovation of space to accommodate additional offices, conference rooms and data infrastructure was a real challenge. Our team received some nice recognition for our efforts.”
What is your greatest success story?
“I guess the one thing that comes to mind was a large data center project replacing the UPS system when I worked for JLL and planning the rigging of the units into the basement with an elevator that did not have the capacity to handle. After installing temporary rigging to increase the load capacity, the project was able to continue with no interruption."
Tell us about a challenge or obstacle that you face in the Real Estate/Facilities world.
“Some of my challenges I faced were the accounts I was placed on while working for 3rd party management PM Realty, Cushman & Wakefield, CBRE and JLL. When we acquired a new account making the transition into a new management model proved to be challenging, but in the end we always accomplished our goals.”
What learning experience would you pass onto future FM’s?
“My best learning experience is definitely my time working in construction for my father. Learning the construction business and becoming familiar with all trades, proved to be an asset in my career qualifications. I would recommend any future FM learn a trade of some sort as it definitely helps you when you need to ‘talk shop’.”
Interviewed by Sonya Verny of IA Interior Architects, IFMA NYC Secretary.