Faces of Facilities

Faces of Facilities: Jeff Womack from AGEISS Inc.

U.S. Air Force veteran Jeff Womack’s current role as a facilities management professional at federal contractor AGEISS Inc. has allowed him to continue supporting the military and his country. Now, he’s calling on organizations everywhere to enlist other hard-working veterans to join the FM industry.

Womack served in the Air Force for over 21 years, mostly as an IT operator. Since retiring from active duty, Womack has worked at AGEISS Inc. for nearly 12 years and currently serves as the Supervisor of Facilities and Project Management Support.

AGEISS performs work for most branches of the federal government in a prime or subcontractor capacity, providing a range of services from energy and environmental to facility operations and maintenance. In his role, Womack leads a team of seven FMs who manage over 70 diverse military facilities.

“I make Air Force facilities better for your tax dollar!” proclaimed Womack.

Womack has a B.S. in Project Management from Colorado State University Global Campus and is working on an M.S. in Facilities Management from the University of Texas at San Antonio. He has earned ProFM and FMP credentials and was recently awarded an Eric Teicholz Scholarship from the IFMA Foundation to pursue his SFP credential.

Womack is a committee chair for his local San Antonio Chapter of IFMA and an active member of the San Antonio Chapter of SAME (Society of American Military Engineers). He is also on the Professional Organizations Advisory Committee for the FM Pipeline organization.

To learn more about Womack and his take on industry issues, please read the “Faces of Facilities” interview below:

How did you get your start in the field?

I started working in the FM industry when the group I was supporting was moved to an offsite location and into a historical building. The Air Force FM remained in the main building and needed daily “eyes on” in the building where my group was located. I did that for about five years, progressively getting more and more involved. In 2019, I was asked to move to a different task order that my company had to do FM work full time. After about six months into this position, I was promoted into the supervisory position and took over the task order. 

Who is/was your biggest influence in the industry, and why?

The are so many great influences in our industry. I look at people like Dave Riker at the University of Texas at San Antonio, who is also a retired Air Force member like me who did great things as Director of Facilities before being offered the opportunity to create an all-online Masters Degree in FM. I also look at Lindsey Brackett, who I met this year as part of the FM Pipeline’s Facilithon event in Texas. I admire and try to emulate people who are not only experts in the field but are also trying to elevate the profession. 

What’s your best mistake, and what did you learn from it?

In February 2021, a historic cold front hit Texas and much of the U.S. Many of our facilities were built in the ’60s and ’70s and didn’t have insulation on water pipes. We also had fire sprinkler systems that were in non-climate-controlled facilities. While we took action on many items, the single-digit temperatures showed us how many unprotected systems that we had. We now have better plans in place and a much better picture of the aging systems. 

What are some of the biggest facilities management issues at your organization?

Much like anyone else, my facilities suffer from aging infrastructure and the desire to modernize these facilities with more sustainable technologies. 

What’s your favorite part about working in the industry?

I am a results-oriented person. I like getting results for my company, my Air Force clients, and seeing the improvements that my team is able to accomplish. As someone who thought he wanted to be an architect when I was a teen, working in the built environment goes back to that desire while still actively supporting the Air Force I served on active duty with for over 21 years.

What changes would you like to see in the FM industry?

In my opinion, we absolutely have to do a better job cultivating interest in the industry with high school students, college students, and my own personal desire to see more veterans choose the career track. 

Military members often have diverse experience and are taught to handle problems in an expeditious manner. There are so many career fields in the military which are direct-feed fields to the FM industry such as plumbers, electricians, carpenters, and HVAC techs, but we also have civil engineers, geologists, and project managers. 

Personally, I have hired military retirees who were carpenters and HVAC techs as FMs. But those direct-feed career fields aren’t the only ones that fit well in FM. I was an IT operator, I have a former radio operator from the Marines, an Air Traffic Control Equipment Maintainer, and Army Infantrymen who all provide great FM support. 

Recently I was able to hire a young 25-year-old who had FM-related experience at a local resort. I was able to pair him with a seasoned FM who had extensive HVAC experience, and that has worked out great for both FMs. 

Where do you see the industry heading in five years? Are you noticing any major trends?

I believe that sustainability issues and dealing with aging infrastructure will continue to drive a lot of the industry. I see things like LEED certifications and alternative energy generation and storage becoming more and more mainstream. Recently ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, approved the testing of Tesla’s Powerwall energy storage technology as support to the Texas power grid. If this test proves successful, I expect the Powerwall technology to really take off as building owners can store reserve power generated at their site and sell that excess energy back to the grid. 

What are you most proud of?

My team. I currently have the honor of leading a team of seven FMs, five of which are veterans and two wonderful civilians. They make my job easier and make me proud. 

Do you have any advice for people entering the profession?

My advice for people entering the profession is the same as any profession—professional development! I have always believed in ProDev, but my short stint working from home during the pandemic really supercharged it. Join local professional organizations like IFMA, SAME, BOMA, AFE, and any others to connect with fellow professionals in the industry locally.

Anything else you’d like to add?

At pretty much any FM-related conference or event that we go to, we hear about the average age of FMs and what percentage of FMs will retire soon. It is time for our industry to make a concerted effort to recruit and hire military veterans who can often step right into positions. IFMA is starting to promote this, but I feel like so much more can and should be done. 

Are you or a colleague an FM professional interested in being profiled for the “Faces of Facilities” series? Please contact Editor Joe Bebon at JBebon@BLR.com.

ALSO READ: 5 Reasons Why Facilities Managers Should Hire Military Veterans

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