Amidst the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, many have lost their jobs, as bars, restaurants, and several small businesses have been forced to shut their doors for now if not for good. Luckily, some of us are fortunate enough to have jobs that allow us the privilege of working from home. However, this is only possible thanks to the data centers we have throughout the country that provide the connectivity we need to stay up and running.

Right now, facility managers are tasked with maintaining maximum uptime and high availability. Though this may seem like a typical day in the data center, it’s not. With businesses all over the country switching to virtual offices at the snap of a finger and families isolating themselves in their homes with nothing to do except watch Netflix and play internet games, our networks are stressed.

I can’t think of a better time to acknowledge the dedication and hard work of all data center staff, but especially the facility managers. That’s why I would like to invite you to submit your nominees for Mission Critical magazine’s 2020 Facility Manager of the Year Award.  This award will recognize exemplary performance by a data center professional. Mission Critical’s editorial staff and advisory board will judge submissions and select the winning entry. What makes a great facility manager, you wonder?

“Facility managers should be actively engaged in project development, communicate with their engineering consultants, and use their experience and expertise to motivate those they work around to ensure project success.”

That’s according to Tim Pool, executive vice president of engineering for Tec Inc. Engineering and Design. Pool nominated our 2019 winner, Richard Zbin, for the simple fact that he possesses all of these qualities.

The choice isn’t always easy though — there’s a lot that goes into running a data center, and the most notable facility managers are creative in the ways they approach cost savings, efficiency, and company culture.

For example, Craig Lee was nominated for this award because of his eye for efficiency and his focus on maintainability. With sustainability and cost-savings in mind, he has initiated several projects that not only replace end-of-life equipment but introduce new, cutting-edge technologies that sometimes result in one piece of equipment that can do the job of two.

Dennis Copley headed a major HVAC renovation for Comcast. He redesigned and replaced existing cooling systems with an innovative combination of free cooling and liquid cooling technologies. The systems were deployed to over 100 critical sites in the Midwest, resulting in energy cost savings of over $1 million, less maintenance, and more reliability.

And last, but not least, Dave Smallwood was nominated by his organization for consistently demonstrating outstanding leadership skills. He keeps accurate and up-to-date records for all activities within the data center, monitors and manages all the maintenance and preventive maintenance activities, and keeps his entire organization updated at all times. He was instrumental in upgrading the power distribution in the existing data center, adding in additional UPS distribution capacity and extending the redundancy level of the distribution to an additional level.

That covers our 2019 winner and honorable mentions, but that’s just a glimpse of what is happening around the country.

While social distancing is keeping you at home, take this time to acknowledge the people who are working around the clock to keep you entertained with uninterrupted access to your favorite websites and apps. Be sure to include as much information as possible about the individual you are not nominating — it makes the judging process more difficult but also more accurate.

Visit today to nominate your facility manager and to read about the winners of the past.

If you have any questions regarding the contest, email me at


Amy Al-Katib