Scott Lambert – Indiana State Government Center
The Indiana Statehouse and State Government Center has had some ups and downs, literally. Seems the machinery that runs the elevators is outdated. Due to digital advancements and service disruptions, the original parts have become increasingly difficult to replace.
Scott Lambert, director of Indiana’s building operations, is doing something about that at the various public facilities in the Hoosier State. The elevators themselves can be salvaged, as part of an upcoming upgrade, which Lambert figures will take approximately three years to complete.
Staffers and guests will still be able to ascend or descend, as at least half of the elevators in the government buildings will continue to run, and there’ll always be stairs.
“Most elevator banks have at least two units and we’ll never have both down at once,” says Lambert, who in October celebrated his 17th anniversary on the job. “We’ll just have to coordinate the project to keep one elevator at each bank always running. The most intensive part of the project involves the controls. Everything’s so modern when it comes to operating an elevator.”
Lambert expects to commence the upgrades early this year along with work at four other state buildings vital to Indiana’s public interests. Government Center North, Indiana State Library, Indiana State Museum and Indiana Historical Society also are slated for upgrades, with other projects pending at sites outside the Indianapolis campus.
In the process, he’ll find ways to overcome the personnel and supply shortages that have been especially pronounced in the public sector.
Staff and supplies
“That’s been one of our biggest problems, our staffing,” Lambert tells Blueprint this past fall. “The state did a wage-compensation study and raised our wages and benefits, which will help us. But we also outsource a lot of work and hear the same from our contractors. Nobody’s immune to these staffing shortages.”
According to Lambert, plumbers, painters, electricians, carpenters, welders, landscapers and other tradespeople are all few and far between. In time, he figures more young people will see the advantages of a couple years of trade school instead of four years of liberal arts and the shortage will remedy itself. In the meantime, Lambert must make do with 15 hired hands. Fully staffed, it would be preferable to have twice that number.
He speaks glowingly about a couple young men who proved capable cleaners and have moved on to small and modest mechanical projects. He’s encouraged how others show such ambition and aptitude.
“The main thing is getting them and giving them opportunity,” he says. “We’ve also got people here who are very good at teaching the newer ones.”
Personnel, however, is just one of Lambert’s challenges. Since COVID-19 became a household word in March 2020, supplies—especially electrical and technological ones—have been delayed for as long as 18 months. That has Lambert exhausting all sourcing options.
“What’s hard to get these days? It would be easier for me to answer ‘what’s not,’” he says with a muted chuckle.
Eyes on the prize
Onward they still push. Lambert says that Government Center’s two parking garages are expected to be outfitted with cost-saving lighting. Additionally, come spring, grounds will break for a new on-campus archives building. Currently, this building is off-campus, which he says isn’t appropriate for archives.
“I’ll make sure everything is in place when they break ground,” Lambert says. “Anything to do with getting materials on site will be my responsibility.”
So much is riding on all the projects, Government Center being host to such essential agencies as Family Services, DCS Child Services and Homeland Security. And that State Library might be of particular significance to Lambert, for that’s where he began his tenure with Indiana in 2005.
Some serendipity factored in his career path, Lambert first working odd jobs that included selling automotive products on the NASCAR circuit and then earning an associate’s degree as a medical insurance specialist and biller at Indiana Business College. But rather than pursue that, he took a secretarial position at the State Library and, one year later, started working in building operations.
“I’m more comfortable doing that than clerical work,” Lambert says.
Life’s good for Lambert, the 63-year-old grandfather whose interest in NASCAR hasn’t waned. Also, a college football fan, Lambert takes some satisfaction in Notre Dame just concluding its sixth straight winning season and hopes that next autumn a stronger Irish team can vie for a major bowl.
Even with the trials and tribulations of the past few years, he’s seen projects to fruition and is motivated by what’s on his to-do list. He’s even having fun in the process.
“Retirement? Give me seven more years,” Lambert says. “I’ve got a lot of things to accomplish and want to provide the best service for everyone in Indiana.”
View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. III 2023 Edition here.
Showcase your feature on your website with a custom “As Featured in Blueprint” badge that links directly to your article!
Copy and paste this script into your page coding (ideally right before the closing