How to Be Accommodating Between Hurricanes

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The Hilton Garden Inns in Fort Walton Beach, FL had been getting a multitude of complaints from guests about the lack of cell phone service and we were called in to resolve that issue. No problem, we just had to wait until the massive hurricane passed by and dissipated so that we could book a flight. Then, right as we arranged their time on the docket, the National Weather Service said another hurricane was on it’s way and should hit land precisely at the time we had scheduled to be there. We had to do some serious calendar shuffling to make it to Florida with enough time to get the job done before the hurricane hit and still be able to quickly run back to safe, dry, landlocked Colorado.

When we arrived to retrofit our cell phone signal boost system throughout the entire building, this hotel was fully functioning, open to the public and brimming with guests. “Unobtrusive” became the name of the game. Which presented a whole host of challenges:

Hours. Normally we work on a construction site from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm; basically hitting it hard from the time we’re allowed in until the time we get kicked out. But this was definitely not a construction site. With a hotel full of guests we could only work 9:00 – 5:00 because that’s generally when the fewest guests are in the hotel. We were trying to disturb the fewest people while keeping in mind that we needed to finish fast to avoid the hurricane.

Site Cleaning. We usually do an entire run at a time, meaning we remove all the ceiling tiles in an area, run our wires, then go back to clean and replace all the tiles at one time. Clearly, deconstructing an entire hallway at once would have created huge obstacles for guests and staff. Instead, we set up one ladder per hallway, removed one 2’x2′ tile, ran our wire two feet, then replaced the tile, cleaned up any debris we created, and moved on to the next tile. It was grueling work but guests and staff could easily navigate around a single ladder with one installer on it.

Noise. We had to be very, very quiet near the rooms. We stayed on the lookout for any “Do Not Disturb” signs and tried to divert our work to another part of the hallway when we saw one.

Finished Drywall. In the lobby, we had to run 1-1/2″ diameter wire (it’s basically a garden hose) from one dome to the next — 42 feet — without cutting a 42-foot long hole in the beautifully finished, drywalled, painted ceiling because we thought that would be rude. So, Our Man Dave, cut one small, 14-inch access hole in the ceiling and proceeded to push the wire, inch by painstaking inch, across 42 feet to next dome!

These kinds of maneuvers aren’t always feasible, it depends on the site; but we always strive to be accommodating and manage our sites as thoughtfully as possible.