An 18-year-old boy, just graduated from high school, once took a job as a custodian at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor. His sister, who worked there as well, told him about the 75 percent tuition reimbursement plan for college courses. So began the career path of Chris Kopach, the 2017-18 President of APPA.
By the time he was 28, he was manager of environmental services at the University of Michigan Medical Center, developing the philosophy and processes that he would hone over the next two decades and beyond—practicing Total Quality Management teachings and developing a team atmosphere among all staff members. Even from his first management experiences in his early twenties, Kopach says he learned that “the main thing is that it’s important to treat people as you want to be treated, and also that you make sure to take care of all details, no matter how small.”
He joined the University of Arizona (UA) in 1996 as manager of custodial services, and over the next decade he earned a master’s degree in organizational management and completed what he calls “a slew of certificates and training programs,” including the APPA Institute for Facilities Managementin 2002. Remembering his first APPA experience, he recalls enjoying the networking opportunities and camaraderie he found, and being impressed with the quality of the talent of all the APPA instructors, including Lander Medlin, Bill Nelson, and Gary Reynolds.
A number of promotions at UA expanded his scope and brought him in 2010 to his current position as assistant vice president of facilities management, responsible for the management of 300 buildings, 11 million square feet, 490 acres of landscaping, a team of 600 employees, and a budget of $80 million-$100 million.
The APPA Connection
As Kopach branched out from custodial service management, he became more involved in APPA, joining local and Rocky Mountain APPA (RMA) events. He attended his first RMA regional conference in 2005, and he dates his intensive involvement from 2009, when he chaired the regional conference held at UA.
From there, he rose in the RMA region in 2012 to become president and then moved to positions on the APPA Board, ultimately—and successfully—running for APPA President-Elect.
As he became more involved in—and impressed by—what APPA had to offer, Kopach brought APPA resources and programs to his staff. He has brought all four tracks of the Leadership Academy to his leadership team, presented onsite at the Tucson campus by APPA faculty. As of June 2017, at least 50 members of his staff had graduated from the Academy.
This Coming Year at APPA
Kopach has may plans for the upcoming year, among them: