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Get to know... Don Jones

September 19, 2010
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How did you attain your current position?
After spending 22 years in the United States Air Force, I retired in August of 1989 and figured I’d start on another one of life’s adventures.

I started working for the Omaha (NE) Airport Authority in the summer of 1990. My original job was an operations supervisor, responsible for the operations on the airfield and the terminal building — similar to what I had done in the military.

When the custodial department’s assistant head position became available, I applied for and received the job.

Eight months later, the department head retired and I was hired to fill the position, and later became a Certified Executive Housekeeper by the International Executive Housekeepers Association.

Tell us a bit about your facility.
As custodial manager for the Omaha Airport Authority, my 34 staff members and I are responsible for the cleaning and upkeep of all public and non-leased areas of the airport terminal building.

The airport is a 24/7/365 operation, and we pride ourselves in having one of the cleanest airports in the world.

How does your work at the airport differ from that of other facilities?
Because of our location, we have become an unofficial hub for the Midwest. We have only been closed once in the 15 years I’ve been here, and that was for September 11.

After 9/11, most airports suffered great losses, as we did. But, our location and our air carriers have helped us to recover much faster than most airports.

We just set another all-time passenger count record in 2004; with the increased air traffic we are experiencing, along with the greater call for security after 9/11, our jobs have changed.

What challenges do you face?
The most challenging thing is dealing with the ever-shrinking window of opportunity we have to do all of the necessary polishing and scrubbing of floors and carpets, and cleaning of all of the equipment that can’t be shut down during the day, such as elevators, escalators and revolving doors.

With the last flight arriving after midnight, the first flight scheduled for 5 a.m., and passengers arriving two hours before departure for security measures, it’s plain to see there isn’t much time to accomplish all of our tasks — especially since we still have the same number of full-time employees that we have operated with for the past 15 years.

I remember a time when there wasn’t a soul in the building from 11 p.m. until 5 a.m., and on some nights, even that wasn’t enough time to get it all done.

What is your most/least favorite part of your job?
My most favorite part of the job is that no day is the same — when you deal with people, nothing stays the same. You might have some of the same tasks to do, day in and day out, but there is always something different going on at the airport.

The least favorite part about my job is disciplining adults for not taking responsibility for themselves and not doing what they know they are supposed to be doing.

I was taught to accept responsibility from day one in the military, and after 22 years of thinking that way, it takes quite a bit of adjusting on my part to accept anything else.

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