Steve Howard

Assistant vice president for facilities and purchasing, Redwood Credit Union, 3033 Cleveland Ave., Santa Rosa 95403, 707-545-4000, redwoodcu.org

Age: 52

Residence: Sebastopol

Professional background: Facilities professional for 28 years, mostly serving the high-tech industry with large regional and national facilities profiles.

Education: Bachelor of science degree in industrial technology from California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo

Staff: Three report to me directly. I have working relationships and partnerships with more than 100 vendors.

Describe the facilities you oversee: Redwood Credit Union's facilities portfolio consists of:A 103,000-square-foot LEED Silver--certified administrative facility in Santa Rosa. Other tenants occupy 19,000 square feet.Eighteen retail leased locations in five North Bay counties and San Francisco, totaling 50,000 square feet.Five remote ATM sites.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I am a California native and have been a resident of Sonoma County since 1984. I live on a self-developed five-acre eco-farm property in West Sonoma County with my wife of 20 years and daughter, who attends Analy High School.

What's the role of facilities managers within your organization?: At Redwood Credit Union, the role provides management and leadership in three major areas:Corporate real estate oversight and space planning.Land and building capital project design, management and planning.Building and maintenance operations, including utilities management, environmental programs, technical maintenance, general maintenance and general services.

What achievement are you most proud of?: My greatest achievement to date at RCU has been to develop a management systems structure for the facilities function, while concurrently developing and integrating new operating processes to maximize the department efficiencies. After my coming on board to RCU and implementing these systems and processes, the facilities department was awarded the highest score in the organization three years in a row through RCU's interdepartment survey, which represents an internal peer review by all departments and retail branches within the organization.

What is your biggest challenge today?: It is to maintain the right balance between strategic organizational and operating process development with the need to deliver short-term results. There are many immediate problems, services and projects to engage and complete, which are very important to our organizations success.

However, more strategic and impactful changes that lead to “step-function” improvements in efficiencies and result in industry leading methodologies also require a deliberate and focused effort. Determining the best way to achieve strong results in both areas can be very challenging.

What is the next major project either under way or on the horizon?: There are several in the pipeline at RCU, ranging from branch remodels and back-office expansion to infrastructure upgrades. One long-term project we are looking into is a possible plan for adding a roughly 350-kilowatt photovoltaic  array to our administrative facility sometime in the next several years.

What product or service helps you do your job more effectively?: Our building automation and control system really helps us efficiently manage and operate our central HVAC systems at our corporate facility with minimal resources dedicated to that important service and large utility consuming system.

How will your profession change in the next five years?: The ever-improving capabilities of geographic information system (GIS) technology, wireless device communications and the ability to more easily annotate and share drawings will create huge opportunities to increase productivity and systems uptime. I believe these advancing technologies will become more integrated into the operating processes of both internal facilities teams and facilities vendors, changing the nature of expectations in vendor-performance contracts and internal staffing skills.

The skills needed to identify the opportunities and then effectively integrate and utilize these technologies to drive efficiencies and value in service and operating costs will become a key success factor for Facilities Organizations going forward.

Most admired businessperson outside your organization: Pat Byrne – Former Executive Vice President at Agilent Technologies and former CEO and President of Intermec Inc.

Current reading: Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came Into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming by Paul Hawken

Most want to meet: Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland A's.

Stress relievers: Hiking, camping and fly fishing in the Sierra Nevada.

Favorite hobbies: Gardening, cider making, woodworking, carpentry.

Words that best describe you: Productive, driven and looking forward.

Favorite musician: Bob Dylan