PlanGrid Construction Productivity Blog
Jeremy Spindler Calvin College

Behind the Build: Interview with Jeremy Spindler, Operations Analyst, Calvin College

The majority of our Behind the Builds have been focused on individuals working in design and construction. While these phases of a building’s lifecycle are vital for setting up a solid working foundation, we have yet to discuss the facilities and operations teams maintaining a project’s legacy long after closeout. Nevertheless, this week, we speak with Jeremy Spindler, Operations Analyst for Calvin College. Working at the Grand Rapids, Michigan-based university for nearly the last five years, Jeremy is in charge of ensuring technology and business solutions are in place to provide campus security. Read on to learn more about what makes projects at higher education institutions unique and how he uses technology to serve his community.

* Jeremy recently spoke on a PlanGrid webinar, “Transforming Campus Construction.” Hear from Jeremy and other thought-leaders in higher education construction and facilities management by watching the webinar on-demand, here.

How did you first get into campus security?

I actually started in the IT Department at Calvin College. Eventually, a position opened up in security involving specializing some of their systems. I already had an interest in general and physical security because my brother was studying law enforcement. We had several conversations that had recently struck my interest. With the world today, there’s a high need for security, and it’s exciting to be part of the field.

What do you love most about working at Calvin College?

I love Calvin–the mission, the people and being able to serve them in the way I can. While there are always enticing career opportunities at general security contractors and other companies, I value getting to know the community I’m serving.

What makes projects at higher education institutions so unique?

Working at a college like Calvin, I have the real potential to impact lives by providing a safe and secure community.

I feel like sometimes the work I get to do has an exponential impact – I help 50 people here, and those people go on to help 50 more and so forth.  Most of all, it’s rewarding to see what our students do after they graduate and disperse all over the world.

Is there a particular project that you’re most proud of?

I’m especially proud of the project I’m actively working on now for our video refresh. Mainly, I’m proud of how planning is going for the project. In the past, our IT department would get a camera here and there. As a result, they would be set up around campus sporadically. While this has provided needed coverage in the short term, we realized it was time to think more deliberately about where we were placing these monitoring devices. Now, we have the opportunity to thoroughly analyze our campus and put together a video layout that serves our students and faculty as best as possible. Over time, this will provide us with the best coverage possible for Calvin College.

What do you think is the most challenging part of campus security?

My job is to prevent that one in a million.

Unfortunately, it’s tough to put a price on that one in a million because it’s difficult to demonstrate how to save money and experience an immediate return. For instance, I’m putting in complex systems in and spending significant resources to best ensure something doesn’t happen. I can’t necessarily give hard data on why it won’t happen and if it does, what the full impact would be. That’s the really challenging part about working in a facilities department.

How have you seen technology evolve your career over the years?

Having an IT background, I continuously survey new technology and devices on the market that would serve our faculty, students and others on campus. Each year, we’re trying to keep up with all the latest advances. What’s exciting is that technology in security, facilities and construction is constantly evolving and improving. It’s far beyond where it was even five and ten years ago. It’s also changed in the last few months.  

When did you first start using PlanGrid?

I first started with the activity control project, a 3-year project converting all of the campus card readers and hardware to a new system. I initially used it to tie the information available on campus together. But I soon noticed that it allowed me greater visibility on what had been adopted in-house. As a result, I was able to make better decisions on where we needed to spend money to provide the best returns.  

What do you like most about PlanGrid?

The thing I love most about PlanGrid is mobility. Working with the activity control system on campus, I could be out and about and not see my desk for an entire day. If my laptop dies,  then I pull out my phone to get the information I need–which is easily accessible in PlanGrid. Even if both my phone and computer dies, I’m able to hop into any computer lab around campus and log in to the web platform to get what I need. With PlanGrid, I’m not tied to a specific system or device that has to be connected to work in a particular way.

What recommendations do you have for the next generation of those working in facilities?

Do what you can upfront so that you can stay on top of things tomorrow. The chaos of a world can get you very behind on things. So when you have the opportunity, do whatever you can to make your life easier tomorrow.

Further Reading:  Behind the Build: Interview with Walker Palmer, Director of Construction, Live Oak Contracting

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