Mark Reinert, CRFP, CIT, CPT

Parks and Facilities Supervisor, Corporation of the Town of Petawawa

Share some of your most memorable career-related experiences

When I started in this business, I took over day one as an arena manager, at 18 years of age! I was given six Section 25 grant workers, a general contractor, a set of blueprints, and was told to have the new main arena area open for ice in the fall. It was March at the time. At that point, EVERYONE on site was older than I was, and NONE of them were keen on taking direction from an 18-year-old! Respect and hard work paid off, and we opened on time! My second experience was the honour of being asked to be Town Crier when the Township of Petawawa and the Village of Petawawa amalgamated into the current municipality – the Town of Petawawa. It was an incredibly humbling experience, and one I remember vividly to this day. Finally, being voted onto the Board of Directors for the ORFA marked a turning point in my career…it showed me the value of my experience and knowledge outside our municipality. More importantly, it made me realize I had the full support of my staff. I was able to take on that new challenge, knowing they were behind me, and capable of handling the day to day operations while I shared my experiences with others.

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

COVID-19 enough said! On a positive note, due to COVID-19, we are at a unique juncture in our history, where technology and science are merging with mainstream uses, allowing our industry to expand into new areas with incredible new tools and information at our disposal. The developments coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic will affect our industry, and all workplaces, for the foreseeable future.

Prior to COVID-19, budgeting for annual capital expenses and operations has always been a huge challenge. A lack of clear fiscal planning for future asset management when facilities were initially constructed has made ongoing upgrades and maintenance a challenge on an annual basis. As with every industry, coming in on budget when costs are steadily increasing year over year creates some challenges! One of the other large hurdles I see coming is the exodus and loss of talented and experienced industry leaders as they retire or move on to different positions due to economic changes. The loss of that knowledge will have a monumental impact on our industry in the coming years.

How has your involvement with the ORFA affected your career?

Since my initial Basic Refrigeration course in 1985, connecting with the mentors, educators and directors at the ORFA has been an amazing personal experience. From being involved with teaching, through to becoming a director on the Board, my time with the ORFA has pushed me to evolve personally and professionally. I’ve experienced pride, and humility. Camaraderie and support. Having the ability to connect with such a diverse group of educated, knowledgeable members has allowed me to elevate my understanding, and challenge my boundaries – personally and professionally.

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

Learning doesn’t end on the last day of any course. It needs to happen EVERY day. The information the ORFA compiles and provides is imperative to doing your job to the best of your abilities. Stay current. Best practices and legislative documents are important in all aspects of the day to day jobs we do, but keep looking to the future! Take advantage of the connections the association provides; there are over 8000 industry professionals available at the other end of the phone or an email! They understand what you are going through, because they are going through it too.

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

Listen. You will learn as you teach. Sometimes, the students provide as much opportunity for learning as you do!

Check your ego at the door. Roll up your sleeves. Work hard. You represent the ORFA.

Pass on your knowledge – give everyone you connect with the information they need to do their job to the best of their ability.

Be a leader, not a manager. Participate in coming up with solutions, don’t just give directions or ask for an answer. Share ideas and knowledge, and everyone benefits!

Final Thoughts

I’ve worked in this industry for over 35 years. It’s been an incredible journey so far filled with amazing people, incidents that still make me shake my head, and a ton of memories! The connections I’ve made throughout my career, not least of which include the ORFA members, are a valuable part of who I am, and why I still enjoy working in the industry. As Chief Tecumseh said, “A single twig breaks, but the bundle of twigs is strong.” While I may not be the smartest guy in the room, my experience helps me make sure I’m surrounded by the best and brightest. As I’m fond of saying “I’ve got people for that”! The ORFA members ARE some of those people…and I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this association!

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