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There are times when life presents you with two choices. One choice is good and the other is bad. As straightforward as that distinction sounds, the decision isn’t always easy. A few years shy of his twentieth birthday, John Ramirez found himself at such a crossroads when he learned he would soon become a father. Would he rise to the occasion and plunge himself into his new role, or would he hide, blissfully unaware of the responsibility that awaited him?

It was a neighbor who confronted John with this dilemma and offered him a job as a way to take control of his future. That man was the chief engineer at a high-rise building in Newport Beach, and he offered for John to join his team performing basic building maintenance tasks. The pay was fair and the job intriguing. It soon proved to become the catalyst the young man needed to point his life in a better direction.

John’s new boss saw much more in his new hire than just a set of hands that could change HVAC filters. He saw potential. About three months into the job, the boss asked him if he saw his job as a career. At that time, John didn’t see any other careers unfolding in front of him, so he said yes. “Then you’ll have to start at the bottom,” came his reply.

Thinking he was already at the bottom, John was confused. To become a successful building engineer, his boss told him, John would need to know the full spectrum of the job’s responsibilities and that meant moving into a janitorial role. Over the next six months, John developed a huge respect for those who took on janitorial jobs. He came to view his job as a vital link between the success and failure of the company.

From there he was moved to the front desk of the office high-rise where he learned how to interact professionally with people. Six months later, he returned to the maintenance department as a technician before he was faced with another choice.

“If you want a raise, you need to go to school,” he was told. John enjoyed learning on the job, but he had never enjoyed classroom learning. Regardless of his personal feelings, John accepted the challenge and enrolled in a community college program that would equip him with the knowledge he needed to move up. It was a grueling five-year program that allowed him to take classes while maintaining his current position at the high-rise.

Once school was complete, he was able to move into a building engineer 1 position, followed by a promotion to building engineer 2. These positions gave him first-hand experience with budgets, reserve studies, and interaction with property managers. John’s career was on the fast track, and at the age of twenty-five, he accepted a position as chief engineer.

John Ramirez

Regional Manager of Engineering Services

As is often the case, hardship can lead to victory. Undeterred, John rose to the challenge and became successful in his new position.

Then came the recession of 2008. Tenants stopped paying rent. Budgets were cut. Along with countless others, John lost his job. His first instinct was to enjoy some time at home with his newborn daughter, but ambition won out after only a few weeks and he started applying for jobs.

An opening at Action Property Management caught his eye, and an interview was scheduled. John soon accepted a new offer as the chief engineer at a building converted from a commercial space to a residential building. Since all of his previous experience had been in commercial buildings, he was familiar with the equipment and systems that were already in place despite the change in clientele.

Because of the recession, the building’s main systems hadn’t been properly maintained. Addressing these issues was a job typically done by a four-man team. Due to budget constraints, John was given only one assistant who was still in training. As is often the case, hardship can lead to victory. Undeterred, John rose to the challenge and became successful in his new position.

Unfortunately, that building eventually went with another property management company, and there was no place within Action for John to go, so he stayed at the building with the new management team. Seven months later, he got another call from Action. This time, the challenge was different, but John was the perfect fit. The offer was for John to supervise a brand-new engineering department, helping to grow the company.

John was eager to mentor others as his first boss had done for him, so he accepted the position. As a result of his work, Action engineers from across Southern California are now able to meet regularly to network with each other, receive legal and code updates, and get trained for other aspects of the job.

As the Regional Manager of Engineering Services, John isn’t a distant leader who supervises from afar. He’s in the field with his team regularly. Whether he is organizing friendly competitions among the buildings or performing on-site inspections, John knows every level of the job. From janitor to chief engineer, John has been in the trenches. Because of this, he is a leader who has earned the respect of his team.