Jeff Tilly – Sodexo
Describing how Jeff Tilly went from production management to facilities management isn’t exactly a “stop the presses” story.
The story does begin in a pressroom, however—specifically, at the Rockford Register Star, which covers the Chicago suburb of Rockford, Illinois, and surrounding area.
When joining the paper in in 1994 following his honorable discharge from the U.S. Navy, Tilly started as a production equipment mechanic. But as the paper grew, so did his responsibilities. In 2000, after working in the packaging department area of the building, he became the assistant facilities manager. In 2005, he was named facilities manager.
However, the paper, like the industry, fell on hard times, forcing Tilly to look for new opportunities.
Since June 2021, Tilly has led a Sodexo team that’s contracted to manage facilities in an ADP printing facility outside Chicago in Elk Grove Village. As he chatted with Blueprint in January, the presses were printing 12 million W2 income tax forms that had to be mailed by the end of the month.
“We’re here to maintain a safe, clean and comfortable facility,” Tilly says. “We’re able to maintain and operate the facility side of the building to support all of ADP’s business departments, including the printing operations.”
Sodexo was founded by Pierre Bellon in Marseilles, France in 1966. Now headquartered just outside Paris, the company provides catering, facilities management, employee benefits and personal home services to 100 million consumers daily in 53 countries.
At the 242,000-square-foot ADP plant, Tilly leads a team of four, including a detail carpenter and an HVAC technician, as well as others tasked with warehouse and material handling duties. He and his team aren’t responsible for maintaining the printing presses, but they do maintain what powers them to ensure operations continue during outages, Tilly says.
“We maintain and repair the critical systems, backup generators and redundant systems to support data center and print operations,” he explains.
Tilly and his team are now supporting the installation of a new uninterruptible power supply, or UPS, battery system. Scheduled to be completed later this year, the upgraded system will require a major overhaul of the electrical infrastructure, such as power distribution panels, transfer switches and wiring; and it needs to be done without interrupting operations.
“Our team’s experience and knowledge of the building will play a big role in completing this project with as little impact to the facility as possible,” Tilly says.
A plethora of projects
In addition to upgrading the UPS, Tilly and his team are also helping install controls to better automate the facility’s HVAC systems. The project will cut energy costs at the plant, especially as systems can be powered down when the plant is closed or offices aren’t in use. He expects the work to be finished in early summer.
Tilly is also working with ADP on replacing and upgrading the facility’s five original elevators. First in line is the freight elevator used to move printed products, which is expected to be replaced later this year. The facility’s four passenger elevators will be replaced in coming years.
While the elevator work will be done by contractors, Tilly and his team are providing technical expertise and support including helping ADP minimize interruptions in production while the old elevator is taken out of service. He and his team will also help ensure the new elevator meets the needs and specifications to handle the print operations and products.
Tilly’s work isn’t all done inside, however; he and his team also maintain the printing plant’s campus, including subcontracting for landscaping and parking lot maintenance, snow removal and exterior lighting. Tilly says he began working with a contractor in 2022 for a phased repaving of the parking lot with the third phase beginning when the weather warms up this year.
Calling it home
Though Tilly learned how to manage facilities at the Rockford Register Star, he says his foundation was his training in electrical and mechanical systems as a navy fire controlman. A native of northern Illinois, Tilly joined the Navy after graduating high school, turning 18 in boot camp.
Early on while working as facilities manager at the Rockford Register Star, Tilly earned his associate degree in electrical and electronics engineering from Rock Valley College in 2003. In 2019, he added a bachelor’s degree in manufacturing engineering technology from Northern Illinois University, as well as his certification as a facility management professional from the International Facility Management Association.
In September 2019, while earning his FMP certification, Tilly joined CBRE Global Workplace Solutions as a facility and operations manager. It was a situation that’s similar to his current role at Sodexo, as Tilly led a contracted team managing facilities at Mondelez International’s facility in Loves Park, Illinois.
Tilly also loves to care for things outdoors, too. He’s president of the Winnebago County Forest Preserve board of commissioners, which manages more than 11,000 forested and prairie acres in 44 northern Illinois land preserves. Some are remote enough they can only be accessed by hiking in, while others have long been familiar to him as they’re close to where he grew up.
He’s also a Chicago Cubs fan. Chatting with Blueprint in January, he’d just returned from a fan convention and he adds Sammy Sosa is still one of his favorite players.
Tilly says managing facilities as a Sodexo contractor, as opposed to being an ADP employee, means he needs to ensure he and his team must meet the workplace practices, safety measures, and employee activities of both organizations. He and his team still provide expertise and offer guidance on complying with life safety and fire codes, as well as the Americans With Disabilities Act.
“We also live in this house,” he says. “There’s so much to what we do, even just keeping the bathrooms clean. But mostly, we have to ensure there’s no downtime here.”
View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. IV 2023 Edition here.
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