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They work as a team – often behind the scenes. Although they may not be in the spotlight, they’re the ones who make sure that the lights shine on IU Health. They are the force that manages the facilities.
By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes, firstname.lastname@example.org
From the time he could fasten a car seat into his truck, John Mendenhall has taken his son to job sites. At first, his young sidekick joined him on home builds. Now, Jesse Mendenhall joins his dad on IU Health’s facilities management team.
Chris Ronk was a single dad of a 6-month-old when he started his career as an electrician. When his son, Bradly, was old enough, he joined Ronk on the team of IU Health.
The Mendenhalls and Ronks are two of several father-son teams working with IU Health’s Facilities and Maintenance crew. Other father-son duets include Robert and Bradley Logsdon, Ron and Phillip Baker and John and Samuel Mattingly. There are also a few who share the same name – Daniel and Daniel K. Criswell, Rick and Ricky Ashmore, and Mark and Markus Hendricks.
The 145-member facilities and maintenance team represents varied skillsets equaling 1,500 years of experience. Energy management, lighting, electrical services, emergency power, powerhouse, energy management, plumbing, HVAC, carpentry, painting, landscaping, and fire protection are all part of that expertise.
Mendenhall started at IU Health in October of 2012. He said he was impressed by how his girlfriend, a registered nurse, spoke so highly of her coworkers. He was working at the Purdue Research Foundation at the time and had spent more than 20 years in the home construction industry. His son, Jesse, grew up in the business and continued his path in the millwright and fabrication field.
“I think he got tired of hearing me talk about how awesome my job is,” said John Mendenhall. It wasn’t long before Jesse Mendenhall joined the team. “We learn from each other now,” said John Mendenhall. “It’s not pops teaching him so much now. He is teaching me – a lot of things about the Internet.” Outside of work, they continue to use their skills mostly on their homes.
In August, Chris Ronk celebrates six years with IU Health as a journeyman inside wireman electrician. He started his electrical career 24 years ago.
“I’m exactly 20 years and two months older than Bradly and we like to joke that we grew up together,” said Chris. “I did homework for trade school while he did homework for elementary school side by side at the kitchen table.”
Ronk originally came to IU Health as an electrical contractor. “After getting to know everybody in the facilities department I knew I wanted to work here and become part of the team,” he said. He took a second shift position as a maintenance technician and then worked as an equipment technician. For the past few years, he’s worked as a control technician utilizing the skills he’s acquired from previous positions.
Bradly Ronk started with IU Health in environmental services three years ago, hoping he could eventually join the maintenance crew. It wasn’t long before he joined his dad although their hours don’t always align.
“The first weekend the Ron boys worked together felt surreal. I’m very proud of him. I try to pass on any knowledge I can to him or anyone else in facilities and we all try to help each other,” said Chris Ronk. They have also participated in training programs and received additional certification.
“The more that we know collectively, the better we are at solving problems for patients, visitors, and staff. Not to mention the feeling of gratification you get when you make someone’s day a little better.”