Day in the life of UTM custodian

Quentin Klinkefus has been a member of the University of Tennessee at Martin custodial crew for 14 years.

Now a manager, he works hard to ensure that everything in the Elam Center and Skyhawk Fieldhouse is in top-notch condition.

“The Elam and the fieldhouse are a unique building system in the university,” said Klinkefus. “There’s really nothing like it because we have a high visibility complex—by students, faculty and the common public.”

As Custodial Supervisor, Klinkefus has the task of making sure that all events that take place in those buildings, such as SOAR (Summer Orientation and Registration), athletic games and summer camps, go off without a hitch.  With the help of Darren Ray, who works in the fieldhouse, and Jeff Watson, who works in the Elam Center, Klinkefus juggles the busy schedule of the complex.

His day lasts from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. It begins with a brief meeting between the three men to discuss the day’s tasks. At 5:15 a.m., he goes to take care of the facility’s swimming pool. The water level of the pool is checked, it is filled, chemical level is checked and maintained and a report is filed.  At around 6:45 a.m. he goes to check the building and consults with Ray as to whether anything is amiss in the fieldhouse. Next, around 7:30, he meets with Elam Facility Manager, Eric Simmons, to discuss upcoming events and preparation for them. After that, he begins preparing for what the day has in store.

“Usually after 9 a.m. we’re doing all sorts of things,” said the supervisor.

This can include anything from preparing for different athletics or athletic camps.  For example, Klinkefus called basketball the most hectic time of the year for himself and his crew. This is due to many factors, like set up and even time.

“Set up for basketball, that is a fast [job],” said Klinkefus. “… [There is] only a certain amount of time to get things done.”

To get ready for the games, the crew begins with the bleachers. Though mechanized, the bleachers have many components to oversee.  The process begins with the goals, which are taken down and placed in a corner. Then the east bleacher comes out and guardrails are set up.  A total of 180 bolts have to be tightened on this seating section. Next comes the west bleacher and its rails are raised as well.  If anything is planned to take place on the north end of the court, it is taken care of, as well as the tables and dining area.

If basketball games take place one day after the other, the men are even more pressed for time, because they have to keep the Human Health and Performance class schedule in mind.  Part of the floor has to be cleared off for their classes, tables have to be taken down and the south and west bleachers are cleaned and put up. The night crew is responsible for the rest of the cleaning and tearing down. At times, due to the game schedules, the team also has to come in on the weekend.

Graduation is another chaotic time of year for the men.  They set up little by little several weeks in advance and arrive at the Elam Center between 8-8:30. The bathrooms and seating areas are checked as well as the stage area and reception area, located in the field house.

They also work closely with the Recreation Center.  For example, they were asked to lay the floor covering used for Relay for Life.

However, it is all done sincerely for the sake of the school.

“You want it to be acceptable to the faculty staff and public,” said Klinkefus about facility cleanliness. “That reflects on maintenance, which reflects right back on the university and how this place is run. We try our darndest to stay on line with that.”

The supervisor has a Fine Arts degree in Studio Art and graduated from UTM in 2002 and a son named David, that works as a custodian in the Fine Arts Building.

“It’s been an experience in that it’s like driving across country. You’ve got good highways, and you’ve got bad roads, but you cross both of them and when you get at the end, you have accomplished something,” said Klinkefus. “I like seeing the group that’s here, accomplish something and finish the job … We keep it going on a daily basis. I like the feeling of ‘We did it,’ even though it’s hard work. Sometimes its really hard work.”

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