Meet Mike Rodd - Northeast Regional Facilities Manager
Started 2015 as a “Mechanic” (Technician), to Northeast Regional Facilities Manager
Mike Rodd, Regional Facilities Manager for the Northeast Region of Kings, was always a tinkerer. From helping a friend maintain the lanes at a mom-and-pop candlepin bowling alley to his current position at Kings - managing five technician teams at Kings locations up and down the east coast - Mike has a bottomless curiosity about the way things work.
“I loved to take things apart and put them back together, “ he says. “If something goes wrong - or right - I want to know why so I can better understand how a piece of machinery works.”
Before applying at Kings, Mike admits he was fresh-faced and had limited technical experience and background; just the aforementioned stint assisting a mechanic friend with the candlepin lanes at a local bowling alley in Gloucester, MA. This friend would serve as Mike’s entree to Kings, encouraging him to apply for the entry-level technician position at Kings in Lynnfield, MA. This would turn out to be the start of a whirlwind professional rise at Kings for Mike, seeing him climb to the top of the ladder in a little under four years.
Finding His Own Way to ‘Make it Work’
Mike started as a tech at Kings in February, 2015, and right off the bat he noticed there was something unique about the way his managers approached maintenance protocol - and empowering team members.
“The big thing I realized working at Kings was that I was given a lot of room to try things out, and a lot of support as well,” Mike says, reflecting on that first eight months as a mechanic. “My manager always used to say, ‘If you have an idea for how something could be done better, give it a shot. If you get stuck or need help, we’ll give you a hand.’”
Mike says that it was this approach to proactive, always-evolving workflows that made the biggest impression on him and jived with his own natural curiosity. For Mike, it wasn’t enough to just tinker with the machines themselves: He was always looking for new, more efficient ways to do the job. His managers supported this curiosity, empowering him to make decisions and take ownership over his responsibilities.
“A lot of what I experienced at Kings early on was people telling me, ‘This is the way we do things - but if it doesn’t work, find your own way to make it work.’”
A perfect example of this approach in action was an innovative strategy Mike came up with for cleaning and servicing the lanes. Prior to his start at Kings, maintenance staff would once a day focus on servicing a single piece of machinery across every lane. This would be repeated nightly, meaning that there would be a period where every lane was out of commission at the same time. Mike realized that - rather than decommissioning all the lanes every night to maintain a single part - it made more sense to service the lanes in pairs, giving them a top to bottom workover while the rest of the lanes remained up and running. This kind of out-of-the-box thinking, combined with the support of his team, would ultimately be what would propel Mike through Kings’ ranks. What really impressed the leaders about Mike was not just the ideas that he had, but the fact that he would take action when given the green light.
‘Getting There Is Up To You’
After eight months as a technician, Mike was made Gaming & Facility Manager at Kings Lynnfield, a position he held for a little under two years. When it came time to open Kings in Burlington, Mike was tapped to serve as its Gaming & Facility Manager.
The jump to Gaming & Facility Manager meant that Mike wasn’t just in charge of the machines - for the first time, Mike found himself heading up a team of pin chasers and technicians, all starting right where he himself had been just a few years prior. This, he realized, was an opportunity to model the kind of managerial style that he’d flourished under.
What made Mike’s ascent possible, and one of Mike’s many gifts, is his ability to communicate. He has a “Bob Ross-like” calmness about him that makes him an exceptional listener, teacher and mentor. Those communication skills, paired with an innate sense of empathy, allowed for a true connection with his team. He is a shining example of “servant leadership” and he empowered his team to grow organically.
“With the team, I tell them, ‘This is your shop. Run it how you see fit. I have expectations I want you to meet, but how you get there is up to you.’ That’s the way it was presented to me, and that’s what makes Kings the way it is.” The choice is yours.
Ownership and Respect
After a year in Burlington as Gaming & Facility Manager, Mike’s manager at Kings approached him with an opportunity that would take his skills and push him to the next level: Mike was made the Regional Facilities Manager in charge of the entire Northeast arm of the ever-expanding company.
More than a simple change of title, the new position represented a whole new challenge for Mike. From managing a technician staff of three to five team members at a single location, Mike would now oversee all the Gaming & Technician teams at five venues up and down the east coast. Instead of getting his hands dirty with the nuts and bolts, Mike was now involved in the training, planning and designing of the games as they were deployed at new locations, including the 1Up Retrocades found at select Kings locations (something he’s done so well that he earned the unofficial moniker of “President of the 1Up Retrocade”). He was called on to travel and open new stores including Nashville, Miami and Boston-Seaport.
Even with his expanded responsibilities, Mike followed the same managerial model that had served him so well from the start. “I want the people on my team to have the freedom I’ve had,” Mike says. “They’re allowed to make choices at their venues, do things the way they want to do them. They have my support and I can hop in to course correct as needed. Mostly, they have the feeling of ownership of their Kings and the loyalty of their team.”
When asked to describe his journey at Kings and the key to his rapid ascent, Mike describes it as feeling “very natural,” attributing it to being surrounded by a team that understands the value of curiosity and fresh new ideas - and the importance of being given an opportunity. The collaboration between all levels of leadership during the company mandated “creative time” has helped to spur a lot of the innovation and solve many problems that the team faces.
“I didn’t know anything about bowling, dining or entertainment when I started,” he says. “But I wanted to learn and get more experience. My leaders saw how I wanted to take on more responsibility and said, ‘Here’s someone who can do more, let’s allow him to.’ At every step, I was supported and allowed to progress as I got more comfortable.”
Mike is a shining example of growth from within the company. When given opportunities and doors opened, he chose to walk through them without fear and with optimism. Mike continues to empower his team and roll out the latest in gaming technology to create that ‘wow’ factor, you can take that crucial first step towards doing more. Apply today for the chance to join our ever-growing team!
To be continued... because our team's stories are always growing!