By Mallory Doeckel
Every one of the 130 buildings on campus has a Facilities team that keeps it in working order for the campus community.
Esteban Mendoza is the supervisor over the team for Area 3 of campus, which adds up to 22 buildings, including all residential buildings and the M.D. Anderson Library.
Some of the buildings are a massive undertaking on their own. For example, M.D Anderson Library has 53 restrooms, some with five or six stalls, requiring someone from Mendoza’s team to be out there several times a day.
Although a building of that size requires a lot of daily attention, one of the largest projects his team tackles each year is preparing the residential buildings in the summer for people moving in for fall. Over the course of two and a half months, they have to get 9,000 beds ready for move in.
When he started at the University of Houston 17 years ago, Mendoza had no idea he would be where he is now. He had just married his wife and started as a general painter working in the residential buildings, which he did for 11 years. He worked his way from general painter to a Facilities skilled trades 2 and skilled trades 3 employee before becoming a Facilities supervisor.
Not everyone realizes the range of skills Facilities workers have to have to complete their tasks. However, Mendoza appreciates that their work is challenging because it keeps his team growing and practicing new skills.
“Every day is a new beginning,” said Mendoza. “We never know what issues may arise on campus. I enjoy finding solutions for people. It keeps my job interesting.”
Dealing with work orders for the residential buildings means his team has a lot of interactions with students. Mendoza said that when students express appreciation, that’s one of the most rewarding parts of what they do.
“Our top priorities are customer service and quality of work,” Mendoza said. “We treat students how we’d want to be treated.”
One of his accomplishments he’s most proud of was receiving the Administration and Finance Division’s Excellence Award in 2010. Winners of this award are chosen for going above and beyond in their work to make the University better. He said that he has always had a go-getter personality, so that is something he tries to bring out in others as well.
He explained that supervisors have the role of focusing on the individual strengths within their team.
“Everyone is good at different things,” said Mendoza. “As a supervisor, it’s my job to figure out what those strengths are and put people with the jobs that make sense for them to get the best quality of work as well as help develop the employees’ abilities.”
Mendoza also works to improve his own abilities and continues to learn and grow.
“One of my main goals is to learn about Facilities work for every type of building on campus,” said Mendoza. “Each type of building, whether it’s a lab or residential building, has its own guidelines for maintenance.”
For example, Facilities has to go through many steps and gain approvals before they can do something like shutting off water for maintenance work in a lab building. If someone had been working on an experiment that relied on that water and someone cut it off without them realizing, it could ruin their experiment. Therefore, it’s vital to understand the rules and processes associated with each type of building in advance.
Mendoza’s family is extremely important to him. He is originally from the city Matehuala in the state of San Luis Potosi, Mexico. He has lived in Houston for 24 years now along with his parents and five of his eight siblings. They try to have a family reunion where everyone comes together at least once a year.
His favorite thing to do when he’s not working is spend time with his wife Lupita, their daughter who is a junior in high school, and two sons who are two and a half and two months old. Together they like to go to South Padre Island, barbecue outside and go to the movies. They haven’t been able to go to the movies much lately since their sons are both very young, but it doesn’t bother him at all.
“We are having so much fun,” Mendoza said with a smile. “We are so happy to spend this time with our kids and as long as we’re all together we’re happy.”