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Leroy (Rookie) Haywood, an invaluable member of the team at Supreme Maintenance Organization, Greensboro, North Carolina, has been honored with the 2023 Building Service Employee of the Year Award by the Building Service Contractors Association International (BSCAI). This award is a certain testament to Rookie's outstanding contributions to the success of their organization, exceptional dedication, and the significant impact he has made within the professional community.
Haywood's recognition as the BSCAI Building Service Employee of the Year Award winner is reflective of a certain commitment to quality and consistency that often goes overlooked — and for 32 years, he’s been a joy and inspiration to his teammates, and a dedicated father and husband to his family.
“We want the world to know how special Rookie is and hope he will inspire others to find joy in getting up every day to do a job that most people would walk away from,” raved Diana Wilson, Haywood’s supervisor. “He is the epitome of an exceptional custodian.”
Haywood’s impact on those around him is seen in his vibrant approach to work-life balance. In fact, it’s sometimes difficult to imagine how one can find the energy for such varied pursuits as drag racing motorcycles, tending a vegetable garden, being an avid churchgoer, and raising daughters and grandchildren — in addition to serving as a jack-of-all trades worker, team leader, avid equipment-tinkerer, and even holding down an extra job when his family needed it.
His supervisor only half-jokingly refers to Haywood as a ‘champion of sustainability’ in no small part due to his love of repairing and maintaining all varieties of equipment. He’ll even go to such lengths as tracking down old users' manuals from defunct manufacturers, digging up specifications and part numbers in order to repair tools that would otherwise be bound for the dump.
“He’s saved more pieces than we can count,” remarked Wilson. “He would say he’s just doing the right thing.”
Rookie is not just loyal, he's reliable. The last day he missed work, for example, was in 2020, and only then due to a family emergency. In the years prior, the only time he’d be called away was when he served as a maintenance worker for the Department of Transportation and was needed to melt ice or plow snow on the roads.
Around the company, he’s become known as the floor care guru, but he’s done it all: covered cleaning shifts, delivered supplies, repaired equipment, and traveled across three states to solve problems and finish the job. To many, Rookie is recognized as a father figure, sharing freely from his own experiences and helping to elevate everyone around him. He’s gone to bat for both coworkers and customers, and his sense of integrity has driven him to report on issues that need to be addressed. He constantly circles back with clients to ensure continued satisfaction, and he won’t walk away until everyone’s happy.
“Rookie was once asked to refinish the floors in a bookstore that moved their check-out counter from the middle of the floor to the opposite side of a 2,000-square foot room,” shares a supervisor. “When he got there, he couldn’t miss the large, octagonal swathe of unfinished VCT sitting right where it used to be.
“He top-scrubbed the area, recoated it and blended the finish so well that no one could see where the check-out counter used to be. The customer called us to tell us how ecstatic they were with the work, the cost, and the minimal fuss.”
Haywood is apparently known for doing things like this frequently; though the company only finds out when they receive grateful calls from elated customers.
It is precisely this instinct to shy from attention that makes Haywood’s work worthy of recognition — and, hopefully, duplication.
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