Daniel Benker is the Vice President of Facilities Services at Kearny Bank, which boasts $6.7 billion in assets and 500+ employees). He oversees the Facilities Management of 50+ branch locations and retail properties throughout New Jersey, Staten Island and Brooklyn. Dan reports to the Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, Erika Sacher, and oversees a staff of six Facilities team members. His focus is on process improvement, sustainability and cost-savings solutions.
“Dan is a valuable asset to the Kearny Bank team. I rely on his expertise and industry knowledge to ensure that our current properties are operational and efficient.” – Erika Sacher, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, Kearny Bank
What is one thing that no one knows about you?
“I love to cook! I attended a culinary technical school, where I learned to be a pastry chef. I call it ‘Creative Chemistry.’ Right after school I worked in the restaurant industry for two years. As much as this may seem completely unrelated to the Facilities field, that training taught me the importance of time management, preparation, problem solving and thinking quickly in a stressful environment. Also, the early mornings and late nights helped to forge a strong work ethic.”
How did you get into the Facilities/Workplace field?
“I previously worked in Logistics and Supply Chain Management. In addition, my family’s trade was in commercial and residential construction, which came naturally to me. This combination of experience proved to be a good fit for Facilities Management. I have since been in the field of Facilities for 17 years.”
Tell us about a favorite project highlight.
“There have been many, but my favorite would be implementing a ‘Green Initiative’ throughout Kearny Bank’s Branch Facilities. Creating sustainable solutions is very important to me. I love the fact that we are benefiting the environment by reducing energy consumption and our carbon footprint. And often there is a substantial return on investment which is a win-win!”
What is your greatest success story?
“Most people would highlight organizational accomplishments, but personally my greatest success has been the strong relationships I have forged over the years with colleagues and senior leadership at Kearny Bank, as well as with external partners and vendors. Work and projects come and go, but relationships are lasting. Forming honest and loyal partnerships has been vital in running an efficient and cost-effective Facilities department.”
Tell us about a challenge or obstacle that you face in the Real Estate/Facilities world.
“The biggest challenge has been changing peoples’ perception of the role of Facilities Management, while the industry continues to evolve. Very rarely do people outside the ‘Facilities world’ recognize the education, skill level and effort needed to maintain commercial properties. Buildings don’t sleep. We must always be prepared. It is a 24/7 industry.”
What learning experience would you pass on to future FMs?
“First, don’t beat yourself up over mistakes; they happen. It is not always a negative thing. In fact, quite often they are a catalyst for change both personally and organizationally. I try to look for ways to turn mistakes into opportunities to make innovative changes.
Second, don’t be afraid to ask questions; IFMA forums and the educational library and its members are a valuable resource for anyone who is in the industry. You have access to industry leaders and innovators. I have found that members generously offer industry-proven, time-tested advice.”
Interviewed by Sonya Verny of IA Interior Architects, IFMA NYC Secretary