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The Popularity of Facilities America

Published on 7/24/2015


SPECIAL FEATURE   by the AFE Management Staff


Benjamin Franklin once explained - tell me and I forget - teach me and I remember - involve me and I learn. Just as Ben Franklin was a founding father of America, AFE’s one-hundred years reveals how our decades of practicing facilities management has produced a standard, a curriculum practiced today in one form or another. When we combine America and Facilities - Facilities America® is a venue where involving our members (and future members) is an everlasting learning experience.

We remember attending our first Facilities America® trade show in 1997 at Las Vegas,  Nevada. We also recall the show being a bit unique, because around the middle of the previous year we had changed our name from our (more than forty-year) American Institute of Plant Engineers (AIPE) brand, to our  AFE name. However, the 1997 Facilities America® still had our annual trade show as sponsored by AIPE, while the vender application used our new AFE name. You know - those were the days when this was as difficult as it got, but the many of us in attendance smiled in recognition as a suitable farewell to an old friend in our previous name, just as previously we said goodbye to our original Boston Plant Engineers Club name. However, those in the know were aware that our production company, Professional Trade Shows, Inc., signed the contract with us before our name change. In turn we started producing our own events in the years that followed, where AFE had a staff of eighteen. Yes, the early days of producing and operating an educational and expo-style trade show was a bit trying. We were facility engineers trying to make every detail and exhibit perfect. We really believed in Henry Ford’s “produce it anyway” philosophy. In remembering history; when Henry Ford decided to produce his famous V-8 motor, he chose to build an engine with the entire eight cylinders cast in one block, and instructed his engineers to produce a design for the engine. The design was placed on paper, but the engineers agreed, that to a man, it was simply impossible to cast an eight-cylinder engine-block in one piece. Ford replied, ''Produce it anyway!”  Well, AFE produced our own annual trade show anyway, until we realized our perfectionist attitude interfered with the realities of running a trade show. Let’s face it, to the optimist, the glass is half full, to the pessimist, the glass is half empty, and to the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be, right?

After the 90’s were complete, we looked for help from production companies that could provide the type of show we envisioned our members sought. Our members are more than just unique, they are demanding in certain respects with what they believe should be complimentary. After all, they are an AFE member, an acronym recognized throughout our industry as a building’s advocate, we are the voice of the building, and of course before I forget, membership has privileges, not associated costs. Our members do not believe they should have to pay for the educational programs that include associated CEU credits. Well, we recognized there were two production offerings that would work to our members liking. In-turn, we went back and forth from Trade Press Media Group, Inc., to Maintenance Shows of America. To this day both were and currently are very reputable and very professional companies. I remember one of our early events with Trade Press, Facilities America® 2010. This was the second year Trade Press used their Facilities Decisions model with our Facilities America® brand. Trade Press did a very good job with the show, and the NFMT expo was a hit. However, as an organization representing tens of thousands of event-goers, we had a dilemma, and it was named “partnership”.      


A Partnership and Alliance

As defined, a business partner is a commercial entity with which another commercial entity has some form of alliance. At the end of the day, Facilities America® needed an alliance, a say in what our members were offered and how our members were treated. As a non-profit organization, we treat our membership and their companies’ with certain complimentary training and other proprietary offerings which certain production companies and organizations cannot provide economically. This is not to say competitor production companies do not have a place within our industry, collectively we believe  they do and they have their nitch, but were found just not an adequate fit for AFE or our Facilities America® brand. Ultimately, this is the reason we have “partnered” with Maintenance Shows of America. Dennis Emsley, Principal of Maintenance Shows, was willing and very able to provide our Facilities America® brand with the independence and partnership we needed to produce the AFE style of event, while simultaneously generating a financially successful program. Nonetheless, we always hope for success for all building and facility trade shows, where at the end it’s all about the education and promotion of our craft.

The Baltimore Venue

AFE and our partner (Maintenance Shows of America) chose this venue around the fun and festive Harbor area, where street entertainers, open-air concerts, new and historic restaurants, fireworks and parades all thrive. The National Aquarium, Baltimore, features a living collection of more than 17,000 fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and marine mammals living in award-winning habitats. In 2003, the National Aquarium, Society Board of Directors (Washington, DC) signed an alliance agreement with the Board of Directors of the National Aquarium, Baltimore, enabling the two aquariums to work together to strengthen the animal collection and educational impact of the National Aquarium. With the National Aquarium in Washington, DC now closed, Baltimore harbor is now the National Aquarium venue.

The surrounding neighborhoods offer all sorts of interesting landmarks, unique shops, and, our favorite, the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum, for an in-depth look at the Great Bambino's life. A number of us like to wander around Fells Point, the oldest section of Baltimore, reminiscent of an old English village, complete with pubs and cobblestone streets. It reminds me of old Georgetown, Washington, DC., or even Beacon Hill, in Boston.

From historic places and harbor cruises to friendly attractions and fabulous neighborhoods, Charm City is one of the top tourist destinations in the United States, and vying to be the permanent home of Facilities America®.

The Power Plant

What venue for Facilities America® would be more appropriate than where “The Power Plant” is located. The Pratt Street Power Plant — also known as the Pier Four Power Plant or just simply - The Power Plant  — is a historic former power plant located in downtown Baltimore, Maryland. It served as a central steam plant for the Consolidated Gas, Electric Light and Power Company, a predecessor of the Baltimore Gas and Electric Company. The boilers were coal-fired, and the plant's location on the harbor allowed easy delivery of coal by ship. The location also provided access to cooling water for the condensers, with intake on one side of the pier and discharge on the other. The plant, with by-then obsolete equipment, was used sparingly, until Baltimore Gas & Electric finally ceased use of it in 1973.

The Plant has undergone significant repurposing development since retirement and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. The structure is a 132-by-326-foot complex of three buildings located at Pratt Street and Pier 4 at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, and now houses the HardRock Café, Philips Seafood, Barnes & Noble, and more. It even lends its name to the nearby Power Plant Live! Night-life complex. A terrific venue at night after attending Facilities America®.


The Educational Forum

The first day of Facilities America®, September 9th, 2015, is our Educational Forum, with an impressive number of seminars and certification programs. All of these one and two day programs are complementary to our membership, with an administrative fee for non-members. Membership certainly has its’ privileges.

One of our most popular AFE produced programs is the Facility Energy Analyst, or FEA lab program, an exclusive AFE platform of Energy Charting and Metrics or ECAM+, and developed in part by a member lab of the Department of Energy. All facilities conduct energy audits within their respective buildings. However, what’s next? How do we monitor and maintain the corrections we have made from the audits we have conducted? How do we even know what to correct? Facility professionals need a way to conduct a check-up of their building(s), whether monthly, quarterly, annually or anytime. Exclusive to Facilities America® and AFE, will be a one day introductory class on ECAM+, instructed by Mr. Dan Packa, senior facilities engineering manager and Energy Guru of the Government Accountability Office, `recently retired. Dan is the principal author of US patent 5,717,609, Packa, et al, an energy measurement and verification system and method which provides real time documentation of both baseline and post-retrofit energy consumption. For more information on ECAM+ and other AFE educational programs, please visit us at

Additionally, there will be a four hour Art of Understanding Your Building’s Personality seminar, another exclusive to AFE, this program was specifically designed for property managers without facility engineering backgrounds. If you are a real estate agent, building owner, or simply a non-engineering property manager, this is the class for you – to learn how a building breathes and thinks. If you do have a facilities management or facilities engineering background, this class will very much surprise you in what you think you know, but don’t, about your building.

The AFE President’s Luncheon

On Wednesday, September 9th, 2015, AFE will sponsor its’ President’s Luncheon. This is an RSVP limited number event, so I would caution you to get your ticket(s) in advance. This event has always been a very popular affair with our Facilities America® program, AFE’s president and Chairman of the Board, Denny Hydrick, will provide an overview of the state of our facilities management and engineering industry, followed by AFE’s prestigious KeyNote speakers. This year, Facilities America® is proud to announce the following executive professionals:  

Stephen Sakach, deputy commissioner Facilities Management and Services Programs, Public Buildings Service (PBS) at the Government Services Administration (GSA). PBS maintains an inventory of more than 370.2 million square feet of workspace, and preserves more than 481 historic properties. As former Chief of Facilities Operations of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Steve was responsible for integrated facilities management for all IMF assets in Washington, DC and facilities in over 100 countries and management of over 300 onsite vendors.

Roger Peterson, President of ARAMARK, Roger leads ARAMARK’s North America business-to-business Facility, Logistics and Remote Workplace Services, and ARAMARK Mexico. A graduate of West Point and prior to his current role, Roger was Sr. Vice President of Operations for ARAMARK’s integrated facilities management. Before joining ARAMARK, Roger served as a Vice President and Senior Consultant with Impact Management Services and was part of Johnson Controls’ facility management business.


Nancy Bechtol, Director, Office of Facilities Engineering and Operations (OFEO) for Smithsonian. Nancy provides world-class services and stewardship for the Smithsonian buildings, gardens, and facilities -- operating, maintaining, ensuring safe, secure, and healthy environments. Nancy first joined the OFEO leadership team as the Director of Smithsonian Gardens in 1993. In 2002 she was promoted to Director of the Office of Facilities Management and Reliability (OFMR). In 2006 Nancy was presented with the Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers Award for Excellence.

AFE’s Overseas Guest Speaker

On Thursday, September 10th, the day after our Educational Forum, and day of our Facilities America® Expo, AFE will be hosting an exclusive luncheon for a very special overseas guest. All AFE corporate partners and limited member guests will be invited to attend this extraordinary occasion. With coordination efforts in progress at the time of this publication, this limited membership event will be an invitation only luncheon.      

Baltimore in the News

Our executive director has recently been visiting the City and inner harbor areas during preparation for Facilities America®. Each of his many visits, he has bragged of enjoying a bustling city venue and inner harbor both during the daytime and at night. Wayne even took a cab to the other side of town where a few months back the city was in the news. Without exaggeration, he explained to the office the outpouring of friendliness from a cultural and diversified mix of business owners. Wayne also shared how comfortable he felt while somewhat sensing that the various store owners and venders  did not want him to leave. It is a city that embraces its’ visitors and the business we bring.

News is the presentation of a report on recent or new events in a newspaper or on radio or television - a person, group, or event considered as a choice subject for journalistic treatment. We continue to hear news events stemming from the aftermath of when this city was stigmatized by news and events. We still hear them, but visiting the city and walking among the hard-working and honest residents and business people show a side that is not reported. We think words of inspiration by Poet, Edgar A. Guest may explain it best:

Because it rains when we wish it wouldn't,

Because men do what they often shouldn't,

Because crops fail, and plans go wrong-

Some of us grumble all day long.

But somehow, in spite of the care and doubt,

It seems at last that things work out.

So bend to your trouble and meet your care,

For the clouds must break, and the sky grow fair.

Let the rain come down, as it must and will,

But keep on working and hoping still.

For in spite of the grumblers who stand about,

Somehow, it seems, all things work out.


The AFE Staff is looking forward to seeing each and every one of you at Facilities America®