Director of Facilities Maintenance
for Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Helbling represented Colonial Williamsburg (CW) in securing a Director of Facilities Maintenance. Working closely with key members of CW, together we secured a professional whose facilities experience is broad, encompassing capital improvements; physical plant management; safety and maintenance (including preventive maintenance); energy management; budgeting and forecasting; LEED; and environmental compliance. In follow-up conversations, our CW contacts have emphasized the value of the secured individual's ethical standards, results-oriented mindset, and leadership and management skills. Pleased with his progress in the first six months, they look forward to him continuing to positively impact CW.

Colonial Williamsburg (CW) manages and operates the historic area, as well as art museums; Merchants Square (144,000 square feet of retail space); Bruton Heights Educational Center; hospitality properties consisting of 1,000 hotel rooms, 45 holes of golf, a spa and fitness center; and other support facilities. Its buildings include modern structures and facilities that date from the 18th century.

CW was seeking a Director of Facilities Maintenance (FM) who would play an instrumental role in the various priorities for the department that center around preserving the historical fabric of the Foundation’s original buildings and incorporating important building elements into its reconstructions. The role entails ensuring the appropriate condition and appearance of CW’s structures, gardens and pathways, which involves continuous inspection of existing conditions of buildings, equipment and landscapes, and incorporating findings of inspections into an effective maintenance program. Responsibilities include building automation systems; energy management; landscape services and warehouse; and managing outsourced custodial and vehicle maintenance functions, and work performed by outside contractors.

To address these responsibilities, CW was in need of an experienced and skilled manager who is adept at maintenance and operational issues, and personnel management, while working collaboratively with colleagues within a complex organization. The individual had to possess knowledge of federal, state, and local safety, fire, construction, and painting codes, and of public access regulations; and be skilled in budgeting and financial administration. They also had to understand all phases of physical plant operation including maintenance and repair, planning and scheduling, management, and administration. Most importantly, candidates had to have the ability to lead routine, preventive, and major maintenance due to a significant portion of maintenance being performed proactively to minimize the deterioration of building envelopes and systems.

Even though Helbling has conducted many facilities searches in the past, this assignment was different because of the unique nature of CW.

Working closely with the Vice President of Human Resources and the Senior Vice President of Finance & Administration (SVP), we developed a search strategy to identify and attract professionals who had at least 10 years of progressively responsible experience in multi-building or campus environments requiring the management of complex maintenance and operational issues, budgets, personnel issues, training, and goal setting. It was also important to secure an individual who had experience as a facilities manager in a campus environment with buildings more than 100 years old, and with renewal, replacement, and planned preservation programs. Therefore, we targeted individuals who were in facilities leadership roles within universities, museums, and large cultural organizations.


The successful candidate has both university and cultural/museum experience, and experience in capital improvements; project management; physical plant management; safety and maintenance (and preventive maintenance); energy management; training and mentoring; budgeting and forecasting; and environmental compliance. His experience includes being the Senior Director for a not-for-profit institution that focuses on education and public display gardens over 1,000 acres. There, he drove the activities of the operating infrastructure, overseeing the construction of large exhibits, events, and displays; negotiating energy contracts; and administrating capital improvement.

Thus far in his tenure with CW, the individual has had many achievements, including:

  • Effectively aligning the facilities department's goals with division and institution goals.
  • Establishing procedures for purchasing for FM, which have led to better competitive pricing in a more consistent manner. 
  • Leading efforts in changing the maintenance management systems requisition approval process to ensure appropriate authorization levels are obtained.
  • Developing working relationships within CW and with outside business partners.
  • Initializing a partnership with colleges of the mechanical trades for succession planning purposes.
  • Strengthening the FM safety program by developing a strong partnership with the safety department, and working to enhance training for the FM departments and division.

In follow-up conversations, our client has expressed that the placed professional has made a very positive impression with colleagues throughout the Foundation. He has transitioned well into his role and fits within their culture. He not only works closely with his own team, but he interacts effectively across departments and encourages his staff to do the same. He has high ethical standards, is results-oriented, and his leadership and management skills are apparent. They are pleased with his progress and accomplishments, and look forward to him continuing to positively impact CW.

During our follow-up calls with the secured candidate, he has repeatedly said that it has been real pleasure joining CW, and that it was definitely the right move for him. The Foundation is an active place, and he enjoys the activity. In his first six months, he is getting a sense of his staff, which he said is great, and is continuing to learn all aspects of the business. He and the SVP meet weekly, and he feels that there will be no issues achieving the objectives of the role. In one particular conversation, he emphasized that CW, across the board, has been very helpful to him. The role is definitely what he had been hoping for in his career. Everyone is unbelievably helpful and the culture is very positive.

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In follow-up conversations, both our client and the secured candidate have expressed how pleased they are. The client has noted that the individual quickly made a positive impression throughout the Foundation. He not only works closely with his own team, but he interacts effectively across departments. He has high ethical standards, is results-oriented, and his leadership and management skills are apparent. The professional has said repeatedly that it has been a real pleasure joining CW, and that it was definitely what he had been hoping for in his career.
Rick Nawoczynski, Senior Managing Consultant

Learn about Helbling’s search process