As the leader of the University's Housing and Food Services Maintenance (HFSM) Zone, JD. Tessier '75, G'78 is always game for a new undertaking. "I like the challenges we've had in improving the dining centers and residence halls over the years," he says. "We've improved them so much, and I've enjoyed being involved in planning the renovations and upgrades."
schmitt shoots!! |
JD. Tessier, leader of the University's Housing and Food Services Maintenance (HFSM) Zone, is always looking for new ways to improve services. Last fall, the HFSM Zone received an SUIQ Exemplary Achievement Award.
Tessier works with a 150-member staff that takes care of all maintenance and housekeeping in the residence halls and dining centers. The diverse group ranges from electricians and plumbers to janitors and customer-service specialists. "The most important thing this department has is not the countless trucks, power tools, or computersit's the people," he says. "I've been fortunate to assemble a staff that's ambitious, knowledgeable, and customer-oriented."
Visit Tessier's office in the Carriage House on South Campus and it's apparent that the man who signs off on phone messages, e-mails, and memos with "Go Orange!" is not only an avid SU sports fan, but has an active family life and work schedule. SU sports posters and mementos cover the walls and shelves; an orange locker sits in one corner next to a bucket of golf balls and a ball cleaner. There are numerous pictures of his wife and four children, as well as a bulletin board loaded with all sorts of papers, notes, and words of wisdom. "Don't limit your challenges," one reads. "Challenge your limits."
For Tessier, SU has been a place of limitless opportunities for nearly three decades. He arrived in Syracuse in 1971 and earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. As an undergraduate, he worked as a snack bar attendant and coordinator for several campus snack bars, while as a graduate student he was a resident advisor and assistant hall director. In 1978, he joined the University's staff full time as director of Booth Hall, where he worked for two years before becoming facilities coordinator for Summer Conference Services. In 1982, he was named assistant director of Residence and Dining Support Services, the forerunner to the HFSM Zone created in 1996. In 1988, he was appointed interim director and became director a year later.
"JD. has a tremendous loyalty to the University and enthusiasm for his job and the students," says David Kohr, director of the Office of Housing, Meal Plan, and I.D. Card Services. "Maintenance and housekeeping can be routine, but JD. is always looking for ways to improve things. He's versatile and willing to take risks to keep the organization refreshed and active."
Tessier, who just completed a one-year term as president of the Rotary Club of DeWitt, New York, sees himself as a coach and teachera leader who motivates and guides staff toward goals. The zone's top priority, he says, is customer satisfaction. One step in that direction involved restructuring maintenance schedules to better serve students' needs. The goal was to provide service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so shifts were changed, staffing was increased during late hours, and more people began working weekends. The improvements didn't go unnoticedthe HFSM Zone received an SUIQ Exemplary Achievement Award last fall. "We have a people-first philosophy," Tessier says. "Whenever we get into a project or repair, we always ask ourselves how it will affect the customer."
Tessier honors staff members for their efforts with the Home Plate Award, which recognizes those "who have stepped up to the plate to assist a customer or help a teammate"; and the Hero Award, which is based on the shared-work values promoted by management guru Rob Lebow in A Journey Into the Heroic Environment.
To further spark communication and ideas, Tessier holds open forums for the staff, takes members to lunch, and meets with student groups. He also scours the books of successful motivators like coaching greats Pat Summitt, Rick Pitino, and Lou Holtz for inspiration.
For Tessier, who often plays nine holes of golf before starting work at 7 a.m., there's no sitting still. "You have to be willing to change and take risks to improve," Tessier says. "If you continue to do things the same way all the time, you always end up with the same result."
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