By Matt Ellis
101 Seaport Boulevard is a signature building in Boston’s fastest growing neighborhood. The 17-story, 440,000 square foot, glass office building anchors the emerging Seaport Square project that is replacing parking lots and warehouses with Class A office space, luxury apartments and great restaurants.
Johnny Peguero, Operations Manager for AffinEco’s United Services division in Boston, says it’s unusual for the management company in charge of a major building to offer such praise for a service employee. But, that’s just what happened at 101 Seaport, where the management company and two senior leaders of the building’s owner, sent Peguero emails about lead porter Juan Ortega.
“Juan is an absolute superstar!” wrote John F. Sullivan, a Vice President and Partner with CBRE/New England Asset Services.
“He is such a tremendous asset at 101 Seaport,” wrote Patrick Sousa, a Commercial Development Manager with Skanska USA.
“Juan is a great representative of your brand. His attention to detail and client service mindset are noticeable,” wrote another Skanska USA Commercial Development Manager, Levi Reilly.
A heap of praise for sure, but Ortega, who is 31 and originally from Guatemala, takes it all in stride. “I know they enjoy having me around,” he says.
Ortega moved to the U.S. in 2010, joining a brother and sister who had already immigrated to Boston. It didn’t take long before he found his way to the one of the oldest high schools in America, English High in Boston, where he took language classes and computer classes. Ortega held a few jobs before landing with United Services at the start of 2016. Other managers and employees there quickly took notice of his work ethic and positive attitude.
“He’s very humble. He never says anything wrong about anybody. The most important thing to him is to do a good job,” says Peguero.
It’s a lesson that crystallized for Ortega when he read the Brazilian author Paulo Coelho’s fictional story The Alchemist, the fable of a shepherd boy who follows his dreams to travel. Ortega, who reads motivational books in his spare time, says the author’s message really stuck with him. “It motivates you to work better every day and never forget where you came from.”
Ortega still plays soccer, a game he enjoyed in his native Guatemala, but he doesn’t get as many opportunities with Boston’s cold winters. In fact, the winter weather is really the only thing that he doesn’t like about working in Boston. “The hardest part of the job is working outside in the winter. It’s pretty windy in the Seaport.”
Still, he comes to work every day knowing he is responsible for the way employees and visitors at one of Boston’s trophy properties view the building. He is proud of the job he and his team accomplish and grateful that the owners and managers recognize their commitment.
“It is important because the work is being done well and they recognize we are doing a good job. I take pride in that and it inspires me to do better every day,” he says.
This holiday season, Ortega is being recognized as Employee of the Year for the United Services White Team in Boston. It should be no surprise that John Sullivan, who is responsible for the overall management of 101 Seaport, will be on hand to personally thank Ortega for his work.