Dave Andrews – OPEX Corp.
While being a congenial, easy-going, approachable team player, Dave Andrews is powered by compassion for his fellow employees and a passion that resembles a religious calling to ensure OPEX facilities run at peak performance across its six New Jersey locations and the one in Plano, Texas.
“I am very grateful for the opportunity to serve in this role during decades of unprecedented growth and expansion of the company.”
Andrews has worked hard to contribute to creating and maintaining space that serves OPEX employees and their customers well.
“It’s the attention to detail and building on a culture where people and their work environment matter,” Andrews says.
While not degreed in facilities management, his unique education that resulted in master’s degrees in both theology and counseling from Dallas Theological and Denver Seminary, along with the example of a great work ethic from his steamfitter father, has served him well over 28-plus years of overseeing facilities at OPEX, a manufacturer of high-volume mailroom and warehouse automation equipment. There’s more to this job than just facilities upkeep; a huge human factor is involved.
“When you care about people and the organization and how things interact, you can get a lot done,” he tells Blueprint in October from Moorestown, New Jersey, headquarters. “This may not be the business I grew up in, but I’ve grown significantly along the way and hired the right people. Facilities management has as much to do with the relationships you build as with the systems you oversee.”
The right fit
The confidence that OPEX President Dave Stevens has in Andrews since 1995 has created a relationship of trust and respect in supporting a well-maintained operation. For all practical purposes, Andrews’ talented team serves the day-to-day support functions of maintaining office and manufacturing facilities and takes on the general contracting role for capital renovation projects.
With warehouse automation and document and mail automation divisions, the nearly 50-year-old Stevens family-owned business has grown organically and through acquisitions—there are operations in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, and the Pacific region.
Its business model is about bringing efficiency to corporate clientele through automation. Andrews highlights the importance of providing leadership with a high value on people to ensure the core principles and objectives of the company are fully supported.
He’s embraced the technology essential to the task, particularly during the last five to seven years, and the systems implemented did much to ensure business as usual during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among his initiatives are Limble and Indoor Finders.
An asset-management tool, Limble CMMS allows his department to track every service need and gives the requesting party email updates while enabling the facilities team to monitor progress on mobile devices.
Indoor Finders allows managers to keep track of who’s in the office. It was valuable during the pandemic when many employees worked hybrid or remotely, and it continues to be valuable for employees visiting the office and needing a workspace. While family-run OPEX retains a mom-and-pop feel, he says it’s still necessary to have a sense of people presence, OPEX will continue using this tool when transitioning from working at home to the office has become the new normal.
Security is a top priority, using both card access and security cameras integrated for all facilities to enhance security, these systems allow for all OPEX facilities to be integrated into one platform that can be monitored remotely on a single screen.
“I see my role as one of support,” Andrews says, “and want to make our employees as successful as possible.”
More recently, a department intranet that allows his team members to communicate better has been implemented. This provides a resource and information to others at OPEX as well. He credits one of his hires, facility project manager Josh Crompton, with being a technological visionary since joining the team in 2016.
“Because of people like him and others on the team, we’re now working smarter,” Andrews says. “The way this company is growing, we are using facilities support technology to better manage and improve effectiveness in managing our facilities.
Seeing the light
Andrews identified needs and found remedies before Crompton’s arrival. Solar power and decarbonization becoming more practical midway through his tenure, Andrews solicited bids for the company to go green, and by 2012, the company’s photovoltaic system was garnering all the electricity necessary to power its 250,000-square-foot headquarters and adjacent facility as well as a smaller building in the Garden State.
That’s led to the company pursuing other green initiatives, such as installing charging stations for electric vehicles and sending to the public grid whatever it doesn’t use from the 4 megawatts generated. Should there be a means for battery backup and energy storage that makes financial sense, Andrews will investigate it.
Right now, it’s a rare time on the job for Andrews. In recent years, having been pivotal for growth, he and his team are catching up on smaller projects with no ground-up or big-ticket renovations on his agenda.
But that doesn’t make for dead time. There are always improvement projects to tackle, such as a restroom overhaul or LED installation in the remaining areas yet to be outfitted with energy-saving lighting. It’s all part of his role as facilities boss.
“We are doing all we can to be financially responsible and spend each dollar as our own. The team has done an excellent job picking up these added responsibilities,” says Andrews.
And he’s looking at things with a bigger picture view.
“We’re not siloed. We’ve got a bird’s-eye view of the company, and that’s a privilege that few departments have,” he says. “We see ourselves as more than just maintenance personnel. We look to reflect the overall values of this company. We like to say that ‘everyone’s our customer except ourselves.’”
Maybe it was meant to be, Andrews says about how he’s made a career at OPEX. His high-school buddy, David Stevens, son of Al and Joanna Stevens, the couple who bought the then-struggling company in 1975—beckoned Andrews to take the role when OPEX operated out of just a 50,000-square-foot facility in Moorestown, which has grown to nearly 800,000 square feet.
A happy life
His hobbies include sailing on Chesapeake Bay with his wife and, when time permits, with their four grown children aboard his 26-foot Oday. But when he spoke with Blueprint, the 2023 sailing season was winding down, and while no major projects were pending at OPEX, there was plenty to keep he and his team focused.
And that’s fine with the 63-year-old Andrews, who’s not considering retirement.
“I still enjoy coming to work every day,” he says. “I enjoy the people here and being able to come up with creative solutions. I’ve got at least a few years left and want to continue to do my part in making OPEX the best it can be.
View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. I 2024 Edition here.
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