Chuck Griffith – Bluegreen Vacations
For some, customer service is a hassle of the job, but for Chuck Griffith, it’s an act of faith. Now a regional facilities manager, the former minister says that operating a church and counseling parishioners is very similar to his current work at Bluegreen Vacations, a timeshare club headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida, that operates multiple resorts throughout the U.S. and the Caribbean.
There, he oversees properties and chief engineers at each location. It’s always best, Griffith says, when synergy results. Better than everyone acting as a maverick. Before taking the role in 2018, he spent 20 years in ministry, where he was responsible for the operations of his church—from maintaining the building envelope to managing capital and revenue.
“In both the church and in facilities management, it’s about customer service,” says Griffith. “I am always thinking about how I can support the buildings I maintain, and how to be a cheerleader for my team, providing them with enough guidance to overcome any obstacles they may face.”
Adjusting to the new normal at Bluegreen
Bluegreen provides access to a collection of over 60 resorts at 40 destinations across the U.S. and the Caribbean. Accommodations range from rustic yurts to high-end luxury homes and everything in between. The vacation club’s points-based platform allows members to easily personalize every vacation, with options like theme park stays and beachside getaways.
Speaking with Blueprint well after vaccines were being rolled out, Griffith was confident that Bluegreen would endure the COVID-19 slowdown and emerge stronger than ever. In the meantime, he’s making sure that each property follows all CDC guidelines—as well as any state and local regulations.
Griffith oversees 16 Bluegreen resorts, located in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Managing a team of 16 engineers (one for each location), he ensures that all guest suites are functioning properly, and that the resort’s amenities—pools and spas, tennis and basketball courts, and even horse farms—are in working order.
“We have a lot of different amenities at each resort,” says Griffith. “My role as the regional director of engineering is to make sure that we’re delivering the best guest experience. It’s safe to say I have my hands full.”
Working with a view
Griffith spends most of his days visiting the resorts and performing site visit assessments—always on the lookout for possible inefficiencies in maintenance systems. He calls these “purposeful walks,” inspecting everything from building functionality and landscaping to safety protocols and security.
A degraded wooden fence, a concrete walkway or stairwell in need of repair, signage that could use a fresh coat of paint—Griffith has seen it all. Left unattended, he says, these issues could ruin a guest’s experience.
“Even if a fix costs a few thousand dollars, that’s a lot better than the alternative,” Griffith says.
He also goes through guest rooms and buildings, performing risk assessments and identifying any inconsistencies and deficiencies. In addition, he’s responsible for making sure policy and procedural programs, like preventive maintenance in rooms, are being carried out correctly and efficiently.
“Although I’m minutes from the beach, the ocean isn’t my only view,” says Griffith. “On walk-throughs I look at everything from woodwork, to fencing and roofing structures, to staircases and hallways of buildings. We ensure that all of these buildings are in good shape and very presentable to the guests.”
Griffith manages tech engineers, ranging from the basic tech level one to tech level three. In tandem with this managing role, he is also responsible for training his technicians to move up in the ranks. Griffith says tech levels one and two troubleshoot small problems, while tech level threes are technicians on track to become supervisors and managers of facilities. Usually, they’re tenured employees of the company.
His trainings range from general session meetings on a certain skill to using an online learning platform where employees can complete courses in their specified trade.
Griffith also supports employees using a unique training platform that automatically enrolls new hires in five different general maintenance courses, ranging from carpentry and power tools to HVAC systems. Griffith is also integral in the implementation of the IDP program, an individual development plan, that sets goals and objectives for trainees to reach.
“The plan is for this program to help guide our employees and help them elevate in their careers,” says Griffith. “I see this as an opportunity to impart wisdom and to show compassion to different learning styles, when managing a team that is constantly trying to improve.”
Trained in ministry, working in facilities
While Griffith touts more than 15 years of facilities experience, his education and early work experience were rooted in something more ethereal: his faith. Earning a Bachelor of Divinity from West Lenoir School of Ministry in 1991, and a master’s in education and administration from Bethany Theological Seminary in Dothan, Alabama, in 1993, Griffith started his career in the ministry.
“What the ministry taught me is that success isn’t given; it’s earned,” he says. “Hard work, diligence, perseverance, living life with a purpose. These are what get you to the next level.”
His first role after retiring from the ministry in 2005—director of facilities at Valley Forge Christian College in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania—proved to be the perfect career bridge. In 2013, he joined Sodexo Healthcare as a district manager, and became director of support services for McLeod Healthcare in South Carolina in 2015.
Now, he helps oversee Bluegreen’s ever-growing resort portfolio, and is looking forward to a future where his work ministry takes on new forms—and new meaning.
“Sometimes in your career you reach your ceiling, and exploring other opportunities opens a door to expand your skill set,” Griffith says. “Changing my career path not only gave me a new opportunity; it allowed me to mentor others in facilities management—to pay that experience forward. That, to me, is what it’s all about.”
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