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Get to know… Donald McMullen

September 19, 2010
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How did you get your start in the cleaning industry?

In January 1974, I was laid off from my position as a silicone-filter press operator. I was looking for work and answered a newspaper ad for a custodial position at a museum.

I started working for the Midland Center for the Arts, Midland MI, as a full-time custodian in March. During the years, I progressed into building maintenance and HVAC [heating, ventilation and air conditioning] work.

How did you arrive at your current position?

I continued working at Midland Center as a custodian and handyman until 1993, when I was promoted to assistant maintenance engineer.

In 1995, the supervisor of custodial services job was vacated, and I accepted the position, knowing it was the only avenue that had potential for advancement in the future.

Tell us about your position and organization.

Being the supervisor of custodial services for a 280,000-square-foot facility and an off-site, 45,000-square-foot historical museum is very challenging.

Our main facility houses a 1,500-seat auditorium, a 400-seat community theater, and a 100-seat lecture hall.

The art wing includes classrooms and a four-level museum.

Currently, I supervise five full-time custodians who maintain the facility.

How does your work at the arts center differ from working at other facilities?

In most cases, we are not that much different from other facilities, as we have offices, restrooms, general public areas, and classrooms to clean and maintain.

The main difference is that the same set of custodial workers switch hats to do the installation of major exhibits that have been around the world.

We then put on our security hats and are responsible for the safety of the exhibits and artifacts. I have transported couriers to and from the airports with police escorts, and have picked up performers.

Along with the custodial staff, we have a two-member mechanical staff, director of physical plant, and museum director who pitch in with the big exhibits to make it all come together, as well as help get the normal cleaning and maintenance done in a timely manner.

What challenges do you face in your position?

A challenge I enjoy is viewing an exhibit at another location before it comes in — either on film or in person — and then setting the exhibit up exactly the way it was at the other museum.

It can also be difficult working with all the different member groups, public, and staff to keep everyone happy, and make sure things are ready to go at the proper times.

What is your most/least favorite part of your job?

The part of my job I like best is working on exhibits: installing a new ones and repairing existing ones.

My least favorite part would be the paper work — scheduling, approving invoices and safety materials, and all the never-ending e-mails to keep everyone abreast of the things they never knew they needed to know.

Tell us about life outside of work.

At 52 years old, I have been married to my wife Bonnie for 31 fun years, and we have three grown children: Scott, Amy and Kim.

We belong to the Star Touring motorcycle club, and find that riding is one of the best ways to relax and see the country from a different perspective.

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