By Matt Ellis
When you ask Sandino Cifuentes what it’s like to have Manuel Apponte on his team, his answer is absolute: “If I could clone him, it would make my job a lot easier.”
Manuel has only been with Premier Maintenance for a year. In 2010, he moved to Connecticut from Puerto Rico with one of his sons to be closer to his other boys who had already traded the warm weather of their sunny island for the sometimes unforgiving weather of the Northeast. At the time, two of his friends were working for Premier and they recommended Manuel to Sandino. He was hired part-time to work nights, but it didn’t take long for him to prove himself.
“I love working here,” Manuel said. “The people are great and they tell you when you do a good job. I feel appreciated and I like that.”
“Manny is the best. He’s a hard worker, a nose-to-the-grindstone kind of guy who knows what has to be done before you tell him,” said William Lorenz, the property manager at Blue Back Square in West Hartford, a mixed-use property where Manuel works as a day porter.
A big part of Manuel’s job is solving problems–whether it’s a stuck elevator or a spill in one of the lobbies. He carries a two-way radio and is always available when a customer calls. “He’s good with people. He has the right combination of people skills and cleaning abilities,” said Sandino, who admits it’s highly unusual for a part-time night cleaner to be promoted to a full-time day porter in less than a year.
Blue Back Square is a tight knit community of office workers, retail workers and homeowners, according to William, and everybody knows Manuel. “They call him, and he comes and fixes problems. That’s a hard job for someone who’s only been here for four months, but Manny does it.”
Sandino says selecting Manuel as AffinEco’s Employee of the Month was an easy choice. “He always carries himself as a true cleaning professional and he certainly represents the company well each and every day that he is on the job. We are very lucky to have him.”