Like many young boys, Bryan McMullan wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps.
“I grew up in a construction family,” McMullan said. “That’s what my father and uncle did. I used to wear a hard hat when I visited my father’s work.”
But instead of constructing buildings, McMullan maintains them.
A 28-year UI employee, he has worked for University Housing’s maintenance department for most of that time. As maintenance supervisor, he oversees a staff of 10 maintenance inspectors and is responsible for all Housing residence halls in Champaign, the Memorial Stadium kitchen, Ashton Woods Apartments, Housing Food Stores and Orchard Downs Apartments.
“Our team is on call every day, all year.” he said. “We supply the best customer service in the industry. We have carpenters, electricians, laborers, maintenance inspectors, pipefitters, painters, plumbers, refrigeration workers, sheet metal and temperature control workers all working together to assist as needed.”
“We work holidays, weekends … it doesn’t matter,” he said. “You name it, we do it – everything but cleaning. We answer pages and calls and we also have routine work to do. We check mechanical rooms and public areas daily, as well as roofs.”
Every day, McMullan and his team face a different challenge.
“Like today with the rain, we have some leaks here and there because of weather issues,” McMullan said. “You’ve also got to deal with cooling and heating, especially when we go from winter to summer. Some residents want to have air-conditioning and others want heat. We try to keep our people as comfortable as possible.”
McMullan’s penchant for service can be seen in his upbringing. Born and raised in Gary, Ind., he has always been active in his community. When he was 13, McMullan coached little league baseball teams. By 15, he was the youngest team manager in the city.
At 17, he started working as a gas station attendant but was shot in the chest and neck during a robbery attempt.
“My mom put her foot down and told me I would not be going back to that job,” he said. “As you can imagine, that was the end of my gas station career.”
He joined the Air Force when he was 19 and was stationed at Reese Air Force Base, near Lubbock, Texas.
“It was great; I had a good time,” McMullan said. “I recommend it to folks all the time. If you’re not going to college, go in to the military. If you’re going into the military, choose the Air Force.”
At the end of his military career McMullan was stationed at Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, and he started looking locally for civilian work.
He was hired by Service Master three days before discharge and ended up working for Service Master and at the UI for the next 12 years. “I basically worked two full-time jobs,” McMullan said. “I worked at the university 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and then I went to Service Master from 5:15 p.m until midnight as the night supervisor.”
His first position at the UI was in the donor records department with the UI Foundation. He moved to UI Housing after six years, working as a maintenance inspector.
He said the inspector job gave him the experience to become supervisor, a position he’s held for the past five years.
“It’s a very busy job,” he said. “The best thing about this job is that it changes constantly. There’s nothing routine. You don’t have to stay still and you don’t have to sit in one area. You look up and the day’s over.”
He said Housing’s responsibilities cover some 3.4 million square feet of property on campus including 1,000 student apartments, 24 residence halls and six dining facilities, which is a lot of ground to cover as a supervisor, considering the average age of the buildings is 50 years.
“During nine months each year we house more than 10,000 residents,” he said.
One of the proudest accomplishments during his time as supervisor has been leading his department toward becoming more diverse. He said he has tried to increase the department’s diversity through the university’s learner-trainee program and would also like to see more women apply.
In his spare time, the Urbana resident likes to bowl and has played in community leagues for 30 years. He also has roller-skated for more than 40 years.
Although he enjoys his job, he hopes to retire in the next few years.
“I’m exploring several options when I retire,” McMullan said. “Travel is in the plans.”
He has two children: a son, who is now 28, and a daughter, age 26.