The University Record, August 13, 2001

Customer Response Team helps put bright spot in workday

By Lesley Harding
News and Information Services

Dexter Craiger of the Customer Response Team cleans windows at the Student Publications Building. (Photo by Bill Wood, U-M Photo Services)
Birds beware! The Customer Response Team (CRT) is on the prowl for “fowl” spots on U-M building windows. Agility and a love of heights are required for this job, as these window washers scale the wall like Spiderman, squeegeeing off all sorts of dirt and grime.

“We’re able to clean up to three stories high, both inside and out,” says Ruth Adamisen of the CRT. “Once we’re up there cleaning, we check the window pane and seal to make sure there’s no damage or leaks.” If the job’s too big for the CRT, the work is contracted out to a professional company that has farther-reaching ladders and lifts.

But windows aren’t the only things this eight-person team takes a shine to. Members are responsible for all University walls, floors and carpets.

“That’s what I like about the job,” says Jim Van Diver. “We’re not cooped up inside one building all day long. We have the freedom and maneuverability to explore campus, and every day, it’s something different.”

Walls are often the most extensive cleaning jobs, especially if there’s a sewer backup. First, the team repairs the sewer, and then it washes the walls with a sanitizer. With a sewer backup or flooding, the CRT has to act quickly—usually within 24 hours—to decrease the risk of mold.

Carpets are another messy job, with winter taking its toll. The carpets in some buildings are cleaned as frequently as every three months; carpets with less traffic are done yearly.

Like other contracted U-M units, such as the Blind and Shade Operation Team, the CRT determines which windows, walls, carpets and floors to tackle based on work orders and requests. This team often works in conjunction with other maintenance crews, such as the blind team, so customers aren’t inconvenienced.

Because it’s easier to clean during off hours, the CRT often works in the wee hours of the morning.

“Being part of the team is being on call and accepting responsibility for the late-night shifts,” says CRT coach Carie Kloack, custodial supervisor. “This team is really committed and goes the distance,” says Nathan Norman, department manager.

CRT members say they like the flexible hours because they can spend the rest of the day with their families. The late-night hours are also a benefit to the University.

“Sometimes we’re the eyes and ears to help public safety,” Adamisen says. “If we see any suspicious behavior, we’ll call it in over our two-way radio.”

Luckily, none of the team members have run into any serious trouble, but they have set off a building alarm or two.