According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 2.3 million janitors in the U.S. today. Unfortunately, because custodial work is “behind the scenes” it often goes unappreciated. Yet, custodial work is often very difficult and is vital the success of all public buildings. Colleges, stores, and hospitals depend on their custodial staff for their daily operations. Today, October 2nd, is National Custodial Worker Appreciation Day; if you see a custodian around campus, show your appreciation!

Unknown to many, our custodial staff workers are pretty cool. Check out this Q&A with Charles VanMaldeghem, a Building Services Supervisor. Charles is known for implementing robotic equipment into his work and takes great strides to enhance his team’s custodial operations at RIT.

How long have you been the Building Services Supervisor at RIT? 
“I have been at RIT for 13 years. I oversee 13 custodial staff mainly over in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences as well as the Bausch and Lomb Center.”

What is the toughest part about being a custodian?
“It’s very routine, mundane. It’s the same thing day after day. So, we try to develop methods and procedures that alleviate some of the most strenuous portion of the job: automated and in some cases in the robotics. We are able to have machinery doing a lot of that heavy work that is fatiguing to the staff. It eliminates some of the injuries and potential problems with that.”

Do you find this job to be rewarding?
“Absolutely. Last week we hadthe inauguration and the tours that were associated with that. A large number of people came through our building. So having the place look really nice and the floors looking clean and shiny, and restrooms clean and presentable and appealing is important, and we get great rewards off of the feedback we get from those.”

Custodial work is often “behind the scenes.” Do you think people take your work for granted or are very appreciative of the work you do?
“I often see a lot of positive feedback from the faculty staff and from students as well. Our custodians, because we are here during the day, develop those relationships with individuals. A lot of my staff has great connections with RIT staff and our students because they see them everyday.”

Why did you decide to go into the custodial workforce?
“I started very young in high school. Actually, before that I worked for my father cleaning his offices at the age of 12. As asupervisor, I feel my job is to further develop individuals because I know the business and I know the individuals. I get great reward out of enhancing their lives and making them better.”

Why do you think National Custodial Worker Appreciation Day is so important?
“Having been in it for 40 years, I like to make sure I am appreciating my staff everyday. I don’t try to limit it to one day out of the year, but the recognition that the staff get from people appreciating what they do on a daily basis I think is important.”

Be sure to thank the next custoidal worker you see, and share your apprciation on social media by tagging us at Behind the Bricks, along with the hastag #RITBTB. On behalf of Behind the Bricks, thank you to all RIT custodial workers as well as Facilities Management Services, for keeping our campus clean and beautiful. Happy National Custodial Worker Appreciation Day!

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