Getting to Know Derek Rahm

May 01, 2017

Written by Tom Klaers, Clean Response

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Derek Rahm is a building engineer for Zeller Realty Group, and works at LaSalle Plaza.  Derek has both his BOMA Service Maintenance Technician (SMT) and his Service Maintenance Administrator (SMA) certifications.  Derek was the 2016 BOMA Engineers Association President.

I have gotten to know Derek over the last few years, and recently sat down to learn a little more about his career, experiences with BOMA, and his personal life.

How did you become a building engineer?

I fell into it accidentally.  I was 18 years old and started at Hastings Public Schools as a night cleaner and doing boiler and HVAC work.  I received on the job training from the chief engineer for Hastings schools.  I worked there for three years.

Then I got a job as a day porter (daytime janitorial staff) at the Soo Line Building, working for Wayzata Properties LLC.  Within 2 months, I got promoted to the engineering team.  I worked there for two years, and covered warehouse district properties The Byrd, The Textile, and The Jackson.

I got to know the building engineer at the building next to the Soo Line building, that I met while taking a BOMI class.  He introduced me to the BOMA Engineers Association, which I ended up joining.  Later, he told me about an opening at Zeller, and I interviewed and got the job.  I have been at Zeller for 8 years now.

What has surprised you the most about being a building engineer?

Probably the variety of work.  The work is never just one thing, and it is very multifaceted.  From HVAC, to plumbing, to locks, and to fire and life safety system.   There is rarely a dull moment and it makes the days go by fast.

What is the weirdest problem you have had to deal with as a building engineer?

Once, a possum got into the loading dock where I was working, and I had to kind of corner it until the animal control officer could get there and capture the possum.   But while I was keeping a healthy distance and waiting for animal control, a cleaner trapped the possum and released it outside.  Being a city boy, that was the first possum I had seen, and I was unaware of the temperament of a possum.  The last thing I wanted to do was get bit and contract rabies.  They probably still have it on video somewhere.  It was pretty funny to watch.  It doesn’t get much weirder that that. 

Have you ever had a favorite tenant?

All tenants are favorite tenants.  It helps to have the attitude that they are valued tenants in a class A downtown building, and they all deserve great customer service.

What was the best part of being the President of the BOMA Engineers Association?

Being part of a group that can bring informational and engaging topics to colleagues in the field was very rewarding, and I worked with a bunch of great people on the Program Committee as well.

What are some of the benefits of being a BOMA Engineers Association member?

I would say education, being able to keep up with industry standards, and the fellowship between colleagues.

What advice would you give a new building engineer?

Keep a healthy thirst for knowledge and an open mind.  Just because something has been done a certain way for years doesn’t mean it is the most efficient way.  I would also recommend the BOMA Systems Maintenance Administrator and Systems Maintenance Technician courses.

What would you tell someone considering becoming a building engineer?

The variety of things you get to learn keeps it interesting.  You are always on the move, and days go by fast.  You are always meeting new people and engaging with people.  It is a fun job.

What do you like to do with your free time?

I like to fish. I am very active with my 9-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. I coach football for my son’s team.  I am very involved with my masonic lodge, and do a lot of community activities with them.

Are there any fun facts about you?

  1. I grew up in South Minneapolis, and I have a house about a half mile from where I lived growing up.  I like that I have a very short commute to work. 
  2. I am 6’ 10” tall.
  3. In high school, I played football and did the shot put and discus events for the track team. 
  4. My younger brother Andrew Rahm is a building engineer at Wells Fargo Plaza and is also a BOMA member.  


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