Managing Boeing plant ‘like being the mayor of a city’

  • By Michelle Dunlop, Herald Writer
  • Thursday, April 22, 2010 9:41pm
  • Business

Michael Frank oversees Boeing’s security, firefighting and medical service forces in Everett. He also manages fork lift operators, janitors, electrical, waste management and other maintenance staff. Frank coordinates major activities at the Everett site, such as moving the 747-8 aircraft for fatigue tests. But he still gets calls about minor problems, like the bathrooms being dirty. His team cleans 1,212 restrooms each night and installs 9,000 rolls of toilet paper each week.

“It’s kind of like being the mayor of a city,” Frank said.

How he describes the site services team: “We’re like the people working behind the scenes at a play. Production (work at Boeing) is the play. The best thing we can do is to be invisible to them.”

What Frank enjoys about his job: “It’s new every day. Every day has new challenges. … I get a thrill out of knowing we’re contributing to producing airplanes.”

Previous occupation: Physics professor. How many other site services directors have a Ph.D. in physics? “I would say zero.”

Years at Boeing: 13

Previous experience with Boeing: Led an algorithm team for Boeing’s B-2 program; stayed in defense about five years; served two years in Boeing’s executive development program; and has held various positions in shared services, including site services director, at other Puget Sound region facilities.

How a physics background helps in site services: In physics, “you take something complex and break it into its smaller components.” In site services, Frank boils down large tasks, like moving the 767 line, to the basic steps and arranges it to get a clear picture of the whole process.

Personnel file

Name: Michael Frank

Age: 50

Location: Boeing’s Everett site

Title: Site services director

Oversees: Roughly 800 workers

Job description: “We deal with everything from toilet paper to standing up new production lines,” Frank said.

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