Art Johnston, CIT

Facility Equipment Operator, City of London

Share some of your most memorable career-related experiences

Wow! This is a tough one for me. The first most memorable experience for me was at the 2010 Winter Olympics as an ice resurfacer operator and ice maintenance supervisor during the Paralympic Games in Vancouver. I had the opportunity to work with some of the best ice technicians in the industry. I learned so much during the seven weeks I was out there. This opportunity allowed me to gain valuable experience in time management and focussing on all the details to ensure everything was perfect. I made some great connections while I was there and continue to keep in touch with some of those connections to this day.

My second memorable moment was the 2017 Scotiabank Centennial Classic that was played at BMO Field. Ever since the NHL outdoor games started I always wanted to work one of those games. I was asked during the summer of 2016 if I was interested in being part of the game in Toronto, I of course said yes! Walking into the stadium for the first time was overwhelming for a couple reasons, first was being in awe because I was part of it and second was not realizing how much work went into it. You see the finished product on television but you don’t see what goes on behind the scenes to get to that point.

Third would be the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang as an ice resurfacer operator. During my time in Vancouver I met the Chief Ice Maker that was in charge of the four ice surfaces for the 2018 Winter Olympics. I was asked in the winter of 2016 while I was working Centennial Classic, I was standing outside the Air Canada Centre when I got the message asking me if I would be interested in being part of his crew. I said I was definitely interested! I was honestly in disbelief when I got the message asking me. While there were some challenges like the language barrier, it was still a memorable experience for me.

What would you describe as some of the most significant workplace and/or industry challenges you have faced over the past five years?

Changing demographics in the workplace. As the workforce gets older and the newer generation has come on board there is a challenge as you have to learn how to work with both age brackets.

Another challenge I have faced is dealing with inspectors from various agencies. For example, one inspector comes in and finds nothing. Another inspector from the same agency comes in and finds all kinds of things. Lack of consistency can be a problem at times.

How has your involvement with the ORFA affected your career?

My involvement with the ORFA has been very beneficial to me. From learning new ideas from other members to networking. It’s all positive. From attending the annual professional development program to regional courses, the content has been consistent and has boosted my knowledge greatly. Between everything I have learned through the ORFA and my work experience it has made me a better facility operator and has given me the opportunity to work some of the large events I have been fortunate enough to take part in.

List any best practices or tips learned at an ORFA professional development opportunity.

Keep up to date with industry trends. As regulations, codes, best practices are constantly changing its good to know where things are headed or have already changed. The information is much easier to access than it was 15 years ago! I have seen a lot of changes in the industry in the course of my career and by keeping up to date on those things I have made myself a better facility operator.

What advice would you provide to colleagues considering teaching or mentoring within the industry? 

First is share the information! We are the key to success for the new facility staff coming on board. If we do not share the information and our experiences with them, we are only setting them up for failure. Second is don’t make people feel awkward for asking questions. The only stupid question is the one that isn’t asked! Last piece of advice I have is show them right. Don’t cut corners when teaching or mentoring new facility staff. It does more harm then good!

Final Thoughts

I have had a very successful career thanks in part to the ORFA. I would highly recommend a career in the facility operations/management to anyone thinking about it. It can be highly rewarding for the right people.

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