You Make Blue Go! Getting to Know the Wolverine Tower Custodial Team

Wolverine Tower features almost a dozen floors, hundreds of staff and countless daily visitors. With that level of occupancy and traffic, it takes a tremendous team effort to keep the building clean, inviting and well-maintained every day.

Enter the Wolverine Tower custodial team, a group characterized by their tireless work ethic and team mentality. When the building closes each evening, the WoTo custodial team gets to work. Willie Thomas, Jim Himes, Shawn Logan, Karolina Valentinova, Christopher Williams and Kenya Johnson start work at 6:00 p.m., wrapping up around 2:30 each morning.

“I want people to know how great of a team we are,” commented Willie Thomas. Shawn Logan echoed his thoughts. “We’ve come a long way and I’m just proud of my team,” he said. This strong group dynamic is integral to their success.

Eileen Mallory, senior administrative assistant in the Office of Financial Analysis, praises the team’s results and professionalism. “They do an outstanding job with their regular cleaning routine and when additional, out of the ordinary tasks are requested they are on top of it!  I’m always impressed! These extra tasks certainly increase their workload but they manage to handle it and also keep the building looking good,” she says. “One thing I don’t think people think about is that a lot of times the building air circulation system shuts down after we leave so they are working in an environment that is probably hot and stuffy during their work hours.”

The Wolverine Tower custodians meet these challenges with an immense pride in working for the university. One team member, Karolina Valentinova, states she is most proud of being able to “go to school and get a degree,” and Chris Williams states that “this opportunity has changed my life.” And several of them relish the opportunity to support our U-M football and basketball teams.

Working after hours and behind the scenes, customer appreciation can be hard to come by for the custodial teams, but it’s essential. Diane Vasquez, director of human resource operations, agrees. “It must be difficult to clean an 11-story building used by 800 people daily, not to mention all of the daily visitors we get.  I applaud supervisor Linda Jackson and her staff for doing their jobs day in, and day out, to keep the building clean and presentable.”

What does the team wish people knew about custodial work? “There’s more to it than people think,” says Kenya Johnson. The overall consensus for the members of this team is that they know and understand how important their job is, but wonder if other staff recognize the quality of their work and all that it entails.

Sabrina Owens, associate director of labor relations in Staff HR, extends her gratitude to the team.  “As a resident of Wolverine Tower for 20 years, I have seen custodial teams come and go. It has been such a pleasure to work with Willie, Shawn, Chris and Kenya.  They always greet you with a smile, positive and uplifting conversation.  I often notice when I have not seen them in a few days and seek them out just to say, ‘Hello’!  This team definitely contributes to the health of our organization with their excellent work performance.  Kudos to the team!”

From all of us in B&F, thank you to the Wolverine Tower custodial team! You make it possible for essential university business to get done in an environment that is clean, safe and well-cared-for. We appreciate you!

This is part of a three-part series profiling a few of the terrific custodial teams in B&F in honor of National Custodial Worker’s Recognition Day on Oct 2. Read on to learn more about custodian Tammy Christie and the Fleming Administration Building custodial team.