Luis Rivera, Maintenance Technician
Spending 30 minutes during a summer workday with Maintenance Technician Luis Rivera? They pass in a flash. Luis, who celebrated his eighth anniversary with the Way Finders Property & Asset Management team on September 3, is constantly on the move. And today there’s an extra thing on his mind: finding white roses.
“Today is my wife’s birthday,” says Luis, of Chicopee. “She said if I’m going to get flowers, she’d like white roses, like at our wedding.”
Luis, who joined Way Finders at his wife’s urging and previously worked as a contractor with Baystate Health, is up to the challenge. The words of advice he most lives by? “Do what’s right, not what’s easy.”
“I try to give 110 when I work for Way Finders,” Luis says. “They treat me well, so I’m going to do it right back.”
In speaking of his role, other aspects of his work ethic shine through: Be the first one in and the last one out. Do your homework. Check the sources of your info. Know the code. Build relationships with contractors. Be open to guidance. If there’s a crisis, don’t panic—take control. If you see something that’s not right, speak up.
A native of New York, Luis relocated to Massachusetts by way of Florida, where he’d lived for 10 years. In Orlando, he worked for a fire restoration company and reported to seven supervisors. His eyes grow wide as he recalls the challenges that could accompany such a workflow.
“It’s not like that at all here,” Luis explains, of the independence he enjoys at Way Finders. “I love coming to work every day. My wife’s like, ‘How do you just get up, you don’t even hit snooze?’ I usually get to work by 7:30 or 7:45. I love my job. You gotta love your job!”
There are several constants in Luis’ role: He takes care of and maintains three properties—Stevens Memorial Senior Housing in Ludlow and Kenwyn and Quadrangle Court apartments in Springfield (“My favorite is Kenwyn, the beautiful historic building on Belmont, with the old Spanish tiles on the roof”). He is a go-to resource to train new employees and provide backup coverage at any short-staffed property. Summer is his busiest time, as that’s when many apartments turn over and need to be rehabbed. And he is regularly on-call (two weeks on, one month off) for emergency maintenance.
But the biggest constant by far? “Nothing ever goes as planned!” Luis says, of balancing routine site visits and work orders with the unexpected. “Say over the weekend, a sprinkler head bursts—that will consume two weeks, trying to get those apartments back to the way they were.”
Luis thrives on the pace of the work and the feeling of accomplishment that comes from helping people. “When someone points out something I’ve done and says, ‘Luis did that!’ It just gives me such a rush, every time,” Luis says. Of, for example, the wooden tool he fashioned for a senior resident, who has arthritis in his hands, to help him operate windows. Or the furniture he restores and donates to residents. Or the plexiglass walls he installed as a Covid-19 safety precaution.
“No one said, ‘Luis, go do it.’ I just went and did it because I saw, from going to stores, that they were putting barricades up. I was like, you know what? The staff need to meet with tenants one-on-one. I told my supervisor, ‘Hey, I’m going to build a wall here to give you guys what you need.’”
Luis relishes the finding of solutions—and being able to reuse supplies, or track down the best prices, whenever possible.
“My favorite part of my job is when I rehab a vacant apartment, so I have to gut and then redo everything new,” he says. “I try to make it look more modern. And at the same time, I’m always thinking about how to save the property money.”
He also relishes time spent at home, in his yard, where he’s built everything from a deck to a greenhouse (“Now it’s actually a tiny house, for my niece”). He enjoys barbequing (“Pork chops!”) and getting away with his wife to explore the White Mountains and the coast of Maine, along Route 1.
If Luis could have any superpower? “The Flash! So I could get more stuff done. Then I could be sitting more,” Luis says. “You know, I actually have a little office in my shops, which I never see.”
And then the phone rings. “Hi, this is Luis from Way Finders.” Our 30 minutes with him have run a bit over, and he is missed. “Here are the people about the flood,” Luis explains, taking the call as he readies to return to work.
Thank you for all you do every day for Way Finders, Luis!