Employee eNewsletter, Summer 2017

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Splash into Kroeschell’s Employee eNewsletter,
Summer Edition

Welcome to the next installment of our quarterly employee e-newsletter, your source for all things happening in and around Kroeschell. From important information coming out of the executive meetings to photos from recent events, we have it all for you right here!

Newsletter Content

Click on the section below to quickly navigate to your desired content.

Editorial: Interview with Annette Cartman 

By: Margie Musary

For this installment of the newsletter, we decided to take the employee interview and flip it completely on its head. Instead of interviewing an executive board member, like we have in the past, we wanted to focus on someone working behind the scenes. Someone that keeps things moving and you might not even realize it. Someone who will help anyone at any time with anything. That someone is Annette Cartman.
When I first sat down with Annette, I honestly didn’t know much about her role at Kroeschell, which is one of the reasons why I wanted to interview her. All I really knew is that:

  • She is Rich Pruchniak’s Assistant and
  • She is incredibly kind.

While it is true that Annette is a giver and extremely generous with her time, she is not simply Rich Pruchniak’s Assistant. When I asked her what her role is at Kroeschell, Annette happily replied, “I’m everybody’s assistant. I don’t work for just one department. If accounting needs my help, I’m there. If service needs me, I’ll go there. Even if the warehouse needs me, I’m there. I will never say no to helping anyone.”

I wanted to learn how Kroeschell got so lucky in finding someone like Annette, and what I found out is that it was simply because she is so helpful.

In the mid-2000s, Kroeschell was working on a project at Chatham Park, a community area with townhomes. Annette’s brother-in-law owned Cartman Electrical, and Kroeschell was using them as a subcontractor. Instead of setting up construction trailers for office space, Chatham management allowed Kroeschell to use onsite apartments. It didn’t take long for the work area to become a mess, causing Kroeschell to search for someone to help. That someone was Annette. At the time, Annette owned her own cleaning service, Housekeeping on Wheels, and at the recommendation of her brother-in-law, Annette began cleaning the apartments. It went from once a week, to every other day. The Kroeschell Project Manager on site realized she needed someone to help organize the job and file documents, take notes, set up work orders and write material sheets. Annette jumped right in and soon she was there every day. She even began helping the Project Manager perform townhouse inspections.

While at this job, she met other Kroeschell field personnel. She became such good friends with her coworkers from the Chatham project that she now considers them family. “We call ourselves ‘The Chatham People’ and they are my family.”

After the completion of the Chatham project, Kroeschell wanted to ensure Annette remained a Kroeschell employee. She began to clean the downtown Kroeschell office at night and also ran copies, created O&Ms, organized paperwork for bids and delivered bids to various locations throughout the city. Annette said, “I never had a title. I just worked everywhere. Wherever they needed me, I was there. My only requirement was that they keep me busy.”

I asked Annette what drew her to Kroeschell and how the company has changed since she started. She expressed that Kroeschell feels like a second home. “It doesn’t feel like work because Kroeschell gives me the opportunity to learn new things. They spend the time to teach me anything I needed to know so that I can go out there and do it on my own.”

In regards to how Kroeschell has changed, Annette said, “In the downtown office, everyone was on different floors, so we didn’t see each other that often. In addition, the downtown office never really got to know everyone in the north office, unless it was a large project. When we transitioned to Arlington Heights, I think it was the best decision because now we are all together. We get to interact with each other more easily. I felt like Kroeschell finally became whole and I love that we are now all one unit.”

It’s clear that Annette enjoys what she does at Kroeschell, but what makes her such a great employee? “I have a completion mentality. It’s so strong that I won’t go to lunch if I haven’t gotten myself set up for the next day. I’m a very organized person, and I need to have my tasks set in a certain order.” Annette’s knack for organization is strong. So strong that when she was moving boxes from the downtown office to the Arlington Heights mezzanine storage, she was so particular with where things were stored that Ed Swietek presented her with a jacket that said “Mezzanine Police” in large letters on the back. (Editor Note: After learning this, I can tell you that if you need to go up in the mezzanine for anything, you had better tell Annette so she can supervise you).

When it comes to staying motivated, Annette is one to keep pushing herself. “I want to see where I can go. I never dreamed I’d be doing what I’m doing now, and I love that the work I do makes me feel like a part of something bigger. I also want to try new things and Kroeschell gives me that opportunity. I feel like I can tackle anything. There is never a dull moment when you don’t have one specific role.” It’s evident that Annette truly embodies the Kroeschell attitude that we never say no to anyone, not even our co-workers.

Annette’s motivation to keep pushing herself also comes from her family, who are a true inspiration to her. She has seven children, four girls and three boys between the ages of 20 and 32, and each one is incredibly ambitious. “My husband and I have one daughter who is currently getting her Master’s in Applied Mathematics at DePaul University. She was also recently accepted into Local 134, where she will begin her apprenticeship to become an Electrician. Another one of our daughters served in the Marines and completed two tours. She is currently working as a traveling nurse for Purdue University. And our youngest daughter is finishing her senior year at Alabama State where she is majoring in Engineering. She is currently interning for a computer chip manufacturing company. My children are very ambitious and my motivation to do more and to give is because of my children.” The amazing work that her children are doing in turn helps to motivate Annette to be better each and every day.

When I asked Annette to look down the road to 10 years from now and what she hopes Kroeschell will accomplish, she says, “More red vans everywhere, especially at hospitals. I know we’re doing work with the Air Force now, but I’d like to see Kroeschell work with other military branches and really go global!

Annette is ready to take on any challenge that Kroeschell throws her way. She is motivated by her family and her second family of co-workers to keep striving for personal improvement and always works to help make Kroeschell the best it can be.

Spotlight on Annette:

      1. Tell me an embarrassing moment or funny story from your time here with Kroeschell.
        When we were in the downtown office and I was still cleaning it at night, I would use the freight elevator in the warehouse to haul my supplies up and down the floors. The elevator had a gate around it, and one night, when I was all alone in the building, the elevator went crazy. It kept sticking between floors. It would go all the way to the basement and then all the way to the top floor, but would never land so that I could open the gate and get off. Back then, our electrical superintendent installed cameras in the building, including the elevator. He also installed a lighting system which he could control remotely, and had turned lights on and off on me in the past as a joke. I thought this was another one of his pranks. It went on for about 30 minutes, the elevator never stopping on a floor. I didn’t have a phone on me, so I couldn’t call anyone. At this point, I was very frustrated and I was cussing at the prankster through the camera on the elevator. I am not one to cuss, either. Finally, the elevator stopped between floors in such a way that I was able to throw my legs over the ledge and jump off. I called my husband to come get me, leaving my purse and all my things in the elevator. I didn’t even bother to retrieve them, I just wanted to get out of there! When I got home I called the superintendent, who ensured me it wasn’t him, but it didn’t stop him from watching the footage of me struggling to get off the elevator. I was just thankful that the cameras didn’t pick up any audio, and that he never shared the video with anyone.
      2. When you’re not at Kroeschell, where would we find you?
        Volunteering or networking. I fill my time as Block Club President where I act as the liaison between the block and the city. I also help run the CAPS Meeting, where our neighborhood sits with the district police once a month and we tell them what we are seeing (things out of the norm, complaints with cars, how they are doing, etc.). We work hard to keep our block safe so we can keep our children safe. I also work with Carrie Austin, Alderman of the 34th Ward, and I help talk to the community. It’s time for a change and time to get more aggressive in holding our community accountable. The neighborhood thinks I’m the right choice, but I don’t. I think my daughter, Dalesha, would be a perfect candidate, she has so much to offer, she is an excellent educator and has so many new ideas that would help make our community better and safer. I’m also an active community volunteer, concerned with making our neighborhoods and city the best it can be!  
      3. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
        I want to visit the other six continents. My husband and I try to do two different trips a year, but because our family is so large, we are always traveling to see them. Our family is located in Michigan, California, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Indiana.
      4. What are your hobbies?
        I love shopping. I pretty much shop for everyone. I also like to cook. My favorite dish to make is mac n cheese.
      5. What is one thing about you that would surprise people?
        I’m a very spiritual person. I put God first. I ask God every day to guide my step and my heart. I’m very careful about sharing my opinions because opinions are my own thought, not actual fact. When I open my mouth and speak, I am responsible for what comes out. I try to avoid certain conversations because I don’t want to form opinions on someone or something without knowing the facts.
      6. What is on your bucket list?
        I’d like to overcome my fear of heights. While my kids are skydiving all over the place, I haven’t even been up to the top of the Sears Tower. However, little by little I’m doing more to overcome my fear.
      7. What kind of music do you listen to?
        I like R&B, gospel, the 50s and 60s. I really enjoy the Temptations.
      8. What is one thing in this world you are most proud of?
        I’m proud of my seven children. I want to make sure that my life and my actions can be something that my children can learn from and be proud of. That I have taught my children the power of love and the purpose of giving. That I have instilled in them to never stop seeking knowledge and never stop searching and finding ways to make a difference. I’m proud that they continue to motivate each other and everyone they come into contact with. I’m proud that my family knows how AWESOME they are.


Upcoming Events

  • After 47 years of service, Vic Benedetti is retiring! We will be celebrating with a luncheon on Wednesday, June 28th at 12:00pm at the Arlington Heights office. 
  • Kroeshell’s 7th annual Charity Golf Outing will be held on Monday, July 31st. This year, we are supporting Easterseals Serving Chicagoland & Rockford. For nearly 100 years Easterseals has been the indispensable resource for people and families facing disability, offering a wide range of services and supports nationwide. Now, as America faces a broad range of new issues, Easterseals is especially committed to making major, positive, life-changing differences in the lives of people and families facing today’s disabilities.

Around the Office

Employee Milestones and Achievements

Please join the Board of Directors in congratulating the following individuals on their outstanding achievements:

  • After 47 years of service, Vic Benedetti will be retiring on June 30, 2017, from the Service Department. He has worked at every level within Kroeschell, starting as an apprentice service technician, working his way up to technician, foreman, superintendent and service manager. Vic will be retiring from his current position of Executive Vice President. A luncheon is planned for Vic on Wednesday, June 28th at the Arlington Heights Office.
  • Barry Klassy was promoted to President of Engineering.
  • Scott Stansbury was promoted to Vice President of Operations.
  • Andy Rackauskas was promoted to Assistant Superintendent of Boilers, Combustion Systems, and Controls.
  • Allen Maslo recently participated in the annual Local 597, fourth-year HVAC apprentice competition. Round one comprised of a 100-question exam, an electrical practical and an HVAC troubleshooting practical. Allen placed among the top 10 students (out of 55), allowing him to perform in round two where he completed a brazing project. After executing all portions of the exam, Allen placed second, only four points shy of first place! The winner of the 597 competition moved to the Illinois State Competition, held in Peoria. However, the winner could not make the competition, opening the door for Allen to participate. During the two-day competition, Allen completed a 50-question general knowledge exam, a 50-question trade specific exam, one wiring diagram with questions and four practical exams. The practicals consisted of an 11-hour electrical project, one-hour troubleshooting of an RTU, a service call and a brazing project. After totaling all the points, Allen placed second in the entire state! He took part in an awards ceremony at both the state and local levels.We are all very proud of Allen’s accomplishments! Check out the photos from the awards banquet on our Facebook Page. Next time you see Allen, be sure to congratulate him on a job well done.
  • Steve Tiger and Rodney Wike were recognized by the Medical Facility Manager at McConnell AFB. The Facility Manager received the Air Force Exemplary Civilian Award and expressed that,
    “Every word printed on that award is directly related to the work [Steve and Rodney] do every day. As you know [earning an astounding zero observations for 121 facility related elements of performance] is impossible without a great team that does the job right and does it as a team. I wish I could have them stand in front of the unit and receive an award because they deserve it.”

Do you have any achievements to share with us? Please submit them to Margie at

Safety Department: Confined Spaces

By: Mike Smagacz

Confined Space: Is It Hazardous To Work In?

Generally speaking, a confined space is a partially enclosed or completely enclosed space. By definition:

  • A confined space has a restricted entrance or exit due to location, size or means.
  • A confined space is not designed for human occupancy.

A confined space can pose a risk to the health and safety of anyone who enters. This is because of the following:

  • The design of the confined space.
  • The construction of the confined space.
  • The location of the confined space.
  • The atmospheric condition of the confined space.

Confined spaces can be above or below the ground. Confined spaces can be found at many workplaces, if not all workplaces. A confined space is not just a small area. It can be a large structure such as a silo, tanks, etc.

What Are The Possible Hazards In A Confined Space?

  • Poor air quality: Insufficient oxygen
  • Poisonous substances: Could cause illness and/or unconsciousness
  • Poor ventilation: Natural ventilation is not always sufficient to provide breathable air.
  • Chemical exposures: Skin contact or ingestion of certain chemicals could cause illness or death.
  • Fire hazards: Explosive/flammable atmosphere due to flammable liquids or gasses and combustible dust which if ignited could lead to death.
  • Other hazards: Moving parts of equipment, structural collapse, slips, trips, falls, extreme temperatures, electrical shocks and poor visibility.

What Should Be Done Prior To Entering A Confined Space?

The important thing to do first is to determine if the area a worker is to enter is really a confined space.  If it is determined a confined space be sure the Kroeschell Confined Space Assessment and control program is followed.  To determine this refer to the 29CFR 1926 OSHA regulations. If the determination of a confined space is still unclear, contact your Kroeschell Safety Manager for clarification. Before entering a confined space a trained and experienced worker should identify all existing and potential hazards.  The air inside the confined space should be tested from outside of a confined space using detection equipment.  This test shall determine the following:

  • The oxygen content is within safe limits—not too little or too much (19.5%-23.5%).
  • A hazardous atmosphere is not present.
  • Proper ventilation is introduced.
  • Results of these findings should be recorded on the Kroeschell Confined Space Entry Permit along with the equipment and methods used to determine these tests.

Referring to my opening statement it can be determined that it is hazardous to work in a confined space.  Should you adhere to the information given in this article and abide by the training guidelines set forth by the Kroeschell Safety Dept., we believe you should have a safe working area.

Past Events

On Thursday, March 16, Kroeschell held its annual St. Paddy’s Day Luncheon at the Arlington Heights headquarters. Employees, vendors and customers gathered together to celebrate the start of the spring season. Everyone enjoyed the traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage catered by Harrington’s. Check out some of the photos on our Facebook page.

Seasonal Report: Spring Clean Your Office

According to a new survey by staffing firm Adecco, 57% of workers admit to judging a coworker based on the cleanliness of their workspace. Organizing experts offer 10 easy tricks to spring clean your office. Read the full article from Forbes.

  • Divide your workspace into zones. First, ask yourself, what do I want from my office space, and is it meeting my needs? After establishing how you want and need to use the space, set up zones for your daily functions. This will provide a foundation for a more efficient use of space.
  • Keep only what you need at arm’s length. Boxes of pens, stacks of papers and old coffee cups need to go. Rid your desk of visual clutter by paring down the items on top to the essentials only. For most, that means a monitor and keyboard, telephone, two pens, one notebook, a lamp and one family photograph. Supplies, paperwork and personal items should be kept in the zones you’ve established for them.
  • Create a daily paper system. Streamline paperwork with hanging files or baskets labeled To Read, To Do, To File. Establish set days to go through each. Keep ongoing projects color coded and apart from your archives.
  • Establish Limits. Set limits on the amount of stuff you’ll tolerate from the beginning. Allow yourself one bookshelf or one cabinet and when it becomes loaded, it’s time to de-file and toss.
  • Sort your catch-all drawer. Most people throw things into a desk drawer to get them out of sight. Use drawer dividers to give everything a place. Go through the drawer every six weeks.
  • Don’t use email as a to-do list. Digital clutter can be just as stressful and energy-sapping as physical clutter. Organize your inbox similarly to your paper files, either with folders or with task functions built into the software.
  • Streamline your desktop icons. Every morning your office should welcome you and motivate you to do your best work. That includes your computer. Create a logical digital filing system and reduce your desktop icons to a selected few. Also, clear off any sticky notes of reminders from your monitor, as they will only distract you.
  • Hang hooks for outwear. Hang hooks in your office or from your cubicle walls to organize outerwear, and get in the habit of hanging each every day.
  • Keep a basket or drawer for short-term storage. Keep a basket devoted to these items, and clear them out on a rolling basis. Designate a drawer or cupboard shelf for things like a gym bag or change of shoes to get them out of the way.

Take a Break

We are all busy but occasionally we need a diversion from our day-to-day activities and simply take a break. We created this section, well, just to help you take that much-needed break. This collection of information includes amusing, challenging, helpful, or just plain interesting things. Feel free to submit items for this section of our next issue. For now, kick back and enjoy!

  • Are you looking for some fun things to do around Chicagoland this Summer? Check out Choose Chicago for a full list of upcoming events and things to do. From events, dining and tours & attractions, this list has something for everyone.
  • Put your brain to the test with this word puzzle.
  • Want to go see a movie? Here are some upcoming releases you may want to check out:
    • Johnny Depp reprises his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. It premiered on Friday, May 26.
    • Wonder Woman premiered on Friday, June 2
    • Tom Cruise hits the big screen in The Mummy reboot that came out on Friday, June 9.
    • Take your kids or grandkids to Disney’s third installment of Cars, released on Friday, June 16.
  • Looking for a rather quick yet interesting article to read?  Here’s one: Unmasked: What 10 million passwords reveal about the people who choose them

Do you have something to share?

Do you have news to share with your co-workers? Feel free to submit completed projects, company awards, personal and professional milestones or achievements or anything else that you’d like to share with us. Just email marketing at


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