Facilities Management in Port Austin

By Norman Edwards with Mike Zaeske


Michael Zaeske (61), of Kalamazoo, Michigan, has been appointed the position of Facilities Manager for PABC. He will be in charge of all facilities management operations on PABC’s campus, including building maintenance and repair, housekeeping responsibilities, building renovations, safety, and facilities planning.


Mr. Zaeske will be on campus only part-time until the spring of 2006; then, following his retirement from Glen Oaks Community College, he plans to be on campus at least four days a week until he and his wife Chris can move from their Kalamazoo, Michigan, home to the Port Austin area.


Mr. Zaeske has been a Servants’ News reader since 2002. He occasionally visited the Church of God Fellowship congregation in East Lansing, Michigan, where Norman Edwards attended. He first visited the Port Austin property in May 2004 and saw the campus’ potential, but was not ready to participate at that time.


“I’m excited about this opportunity to be able to make myself useful in the facilities management field again, especially at this time in the development of Port Austin Bible Campus,” Zaeske says, “While I’m certain that there will be a number of challenges presenting themselves in the near-to-immediate future, I do not foresee any major problems concerning the facilities themselves at this time. I’ve had more than enough time to familiarize myself with the campus and I’ve found that most of the buildings and the basic infrastructure are in remarkably good shape considering their age and the number of years that the buildings were not being used for anything. When the government first constructed the present campus as an Air Force base, they made sure it was built to last.”


Among his credentials, Michael Zaeske holds a Master Electrician license in the State of Michigan. During his initial years in Kalamazoo, he taught part-time at Kalamazoo Valley Community College (KVCC), eventually teaching every course that was offered at that time in KVCC’s Electrical Technology program. In addition, he still holds a Registered Technician’s credential as a result of successfully completing substantial coursework and the on-the-job training requirements of BICSI’s Telecommunications Cabling Installation Program at its establishment in 1998. Any young people who come to PABC with an interest in learning about electrical technology, computer cabling, and fiber optic cabling installation will be able to participate in a program Zaeske expects to develop. It is anticipated many of the students’ class assignments will involve practical work upgrading Port Austin Bible Campus.


In fact, campus repairs are already underway, Zaekse says. “A number of the buildings have already been improved. For example, several of the dorms have already had electrical services upgraded, and, new, dual capacity domestic hot water heating systems have been installed in all of the operational buildings, save for the dorms. Also, improvements have been made to most of the shower facilities. Once we decide what we need to do by way of installing a modern heating plant in each of these buildings, we will be operational in terms of being able to house a full complement of students. Of course, things like this require the expenditure of significant amounts of money in terms of capital improvement funding as compared with simply covering regular operating costs, but from what I’ve learned recently, the generosity of just a few PABC supporters has carried this operation forward thus far. I have no doubts, based upon my own and other’s faith in the Almighty God, our heavenly Father, that whatever is needed to get the job done, if it be God’s will, will become available when we need it. If I didn’t believe this, I wouldn’t have accepted the job.


“The Dining Facility and Kitchen have been fully operational for over a year. Everything in that building works now, excepting the high-capacity dishwasher, for which it may simply be impossible to get parts. The Kitchen is an example of where a modern, super energy-efficient, high-volume, forced-air furnace has already been installed to replace the outdated central steam heating system, now long abandoned. Similarly, the Ministry Office and Guest Room building has been retrofitted with a modern domestic hot water system and an energy-efficient forced-air heating system.” As far as air conditioning is concerned, Zaeske bravely holds that the “Thumb Area” of Michigan has little need of it.


Mr. Zaeske comes to PABC with a strong background in Facilities Management. He started his career in facilities as a maintenance electrician for a large high school in the suburban Chicago, Illinois area, but quickly moved into maintenance management when he became Director of Maintenance for Sheridan Road Hospital in Chicago. He later served as Assistant Maintenance Controller for Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago, one of the largest hospital/university complexes in the nation. While at Rush, he was invited to present a paper on a plan he had developed and implemented concerning hospital preventive maintenance programs at one of the hospital engineering professional conferences.


In 1983, Mr. Zaeske moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan, to become Director in the Facilities Management Division for the Kalamazoo Public Library and Museum. In 1988, Mr. Zaeske was hired as Building Manager for Meijer, Inc., at Meijer’s corporate headquarters in Grand Rapids, where he managed the facilities housing Meijer’s Corporate Technical, Data and Telecommunications operations. Later, he was promoted to Facility Manager.


In 1991, Mr. Zaeske left Meijer, and soon after spent three years recovering from injuries he sustained during a severe automobile accident. He later founded and ran his own company, NETech Solutions, Inc., a telecommunications media integration firm. He served as President and CEO of NETech Solutions, Inc., until July of 2000, when he was hired by Glen Oaks Community College as a computer specialist.


Mr. Zaeske is a graduate of North Park College and Theological Seminary where he earned a BA in Natural Sciences in 1971. He attended the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle from 1979 to 1982 where he completed two years of graduate studies toward a master of arts in political science, but was never awarded a degree because he moved out of state without completing his master’s thesis. “It’s just one of those things where my working career took precedence over completing an advanced degree,” Zaeske says. “Besides, I would have never met my wife, Chris, if I had not taken advantage of an opportunity to change jobs when I moved to Kalamazoo. She became, not only my wife, but my best friend ever.” Mr. Zaeske and his wife Chris have now been married for nineteen years.


Mr. Zaeske has already completed an initial survey of the Port Austin Bible Campus and related infrastructure. “It all looks really, really good to me. Sure, there are some things that are going to have to be done. There is no formal preventive maintenance program yet established. Cleaning schedules need to be updated and expanded. But, when you look at things from an overall perspective, I can’t believe I am walking into an operation where all I am going to have to do is make it better. Too often during my career, I‘ve been involved in situations where I had to see to it that a lot of catch-up work was accomplished in a very short period of time and with a very small budget to get it done. I’m not saying that there won’t be a little of that here, but for the most part, everything seems to be in pretty good shape. The grass has been cut regularly, the snow’s been getting plowed, the water system is working well, now, I’ve been told, and the buildings are all painted adequately and look pretty good.”


Pictures of the campus are available at www.portaustin.net.


Mike Zaeske is a former Assistant Scout Master with BSA and has been a member of Kalamazoo Downtown Lions Club for twenty years. He is a frequent contributor to the Kalamazoo “Gazette’s” Viewpoint series. His hobbies presently include genealogy, collecting and cataloguing American Art pottery, and music. He currently lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with his wife, Chris, and their four dogs.