Dwayne Kalynchuk has done a lot in his three-decade career: led a team that developed an asset management system for $4 billion worth of infrastructure, reviewed urban infrastructure in Vietnam. And now he's responsible for one of the most challenging wastewater projects in North America.
But he's most proud of his work on Canada's first skateboard park.
Working—and connecting—with youth to construct the concrete skate-board park was “one of the most rewarding challenges in my career,” says Kalynchuk. The park, located in St. Albert, Alberta, also features 40 miles of paved trails, interactive viewing platforms, and a heritage village that preserves two turn-of-the-century grain elevators.
The seeds for the skateboard part of the park were planted in 1995 when the mayor told him that she'd met with a bunch of “young boarders” who requested a place to practice.
“I certainly was leery. All I could think about was cost, liability, and maintenance,” says Kalynchuk.
But he met the youth group with an open mind. Two years later, the city built an award-winning skateboard park. Within months its use was so high the city began planning an expansion. Now 15 years old, the park hasn't faced a single liability issue.
During construction, Kalynchuk's challenge was simple: understand the park's purpose. “I got to know what skateboarding is all about, and while graffiti isn't acceptable, I learned that ‘tagging' is part of the culture,” he explains.
In turn, he helped the students understand the budget process, grant applications, and construction permits and contracting.
Plus, through such activities as a project open house in which the skate-boarders participated, he worked to convince the community that the skateboarders wouldn't invite crime and corruption.
Once police called him after catching peoples pray-painting the new park. Much to their shock, Kalynchuk advised letting the “artists” finish their work.
“The next day I went out to see the tagging—which was extremely creative—and in the corner of the painting they spelled ‘Big ups to Mr. K.',” he says. “I went home that night feeling good about my job!”
For Samuel Lamerato, managing a fleet involves rising to new challenges even as he's getting ready for the next. His key to success: Staying ahead of the curve.
“We don't wait for new ideas or technologies to come to us—we come up with our own,” he says.
Under this philosophy, his division moved to synthetic oils, not 10 months ago, but 10 years ago. He also incorporated 10-hour work days several years ago; half of the 20-person crew gets Mondays off, and the other half gets Fridays. Plus, the division installed software in 2000 that enables the shop to run paperless.
These are hot-button topics now, but old-hat for Lamerato. And while most agencies are considering outsourcing, Lamerato is bringing in $500,000 by in-sourcing.
“That's added revenue for us in a time when most are trying to do more with less,” he says
The venture began five years ago when budgetary cuts forced a neighboring city to lay off employees and the city manager asked Lamerato to maintain its fire engines. Because Lamerato runs a two-shift operation—open 7 a.m. to 1 a.m.—his division was able to accommodate the extra work, including providing next-day service.
As word-of-mouth spread, other cities sought the division's bumper-to-bumper services. The division now has seven service agreements with surrounding cities and counties for as-needed services, charging $78/hour with a 20% markup on parts and fuel markups of 5 cents/gallon.
Thanks in part to the insourcing, says Lamerato, “we haven't lost one employee to tightening budgets. No jobs have had to be cut.”
Next on his list is leasing out vehicles and replacing some of his fleet with hybrid vehicles. So far, two city inspectors are driving Ford Hybrid Escapes.
“The thing that keeps you on the cutting edge is going to technical training sessions,” advises Lamerato. “I do two to three conferences a year that I pay for out of pocket. I look at it as an investment in my job, and in myself.”