Laine Noah
Laine Noah’s push to adopt plastic matting has saved Padelford Hall countless hours on floor tile replacement Photo by Gene Woodard

The difference between average and great employees often comes down to what contributions are made without specific instruction. Such has been the approach for Laine Noah, a 20-year custodial veteran of the Building Services Department at the University of Washington in Seattle. The last 15 years of his tenure were specifically spent maintaining Padelford Hall, a facility housing 13 departments and close to 1,200 occupants.

Those who’ve had the pleasure of working with Noah praise his work ethic and responsiveness to customer requests, using his expertise of the facility to provide a wide range of solutions regularly. If he sees a task needing completion, he’ll not only provide guidance, but he’ll jump in himself without hesitation — even if it wasn’t his particular responsibility.

“Laine is always there to assist the staff, faculty and students each day, earning the respect of coworkers by pitching in without anyone asking,” says Gene Woodard, director of building services. “He takes great pride in his work and knows every corner of this building.”

Actively involved in his Lean Huddle team as both a team member and leader, Noah has always shown ambition to evolve as both a custodian and mentor. He’s a graduate of the Building Services Department’s ‘Stepping Stones’ program, an essential step toward achieving a supervisor position. Additionally, Noah serves as a custodial trainer for new hires, taking the same selfless and patient approach when explaining different cleaning procedures.

The goodwill Noah has garnered among building customers over the years has not gone unnoticed, earning him multiple nominations for the University of Washington Distinguished Staff Award. His influence on the facility expands everyday maintenance and relationships he’s built, however. His eye for detecting sustainable and cost-effective solutions and enacting them has proven pivotal for Padelford Hall, notably through the adoption of plastic mats to prevent floor damage.

“Laine’s ability to communicate and convince everyone that the change was necessary has saved us from having to replace countless floor tiles,” says Woodard.