Meet Neno Albert - Midwest Regional Facilities Manager
Started 2012 as a “Pinchaser” (Technician), to Midwest Regional Facilities Manager
Neno Albert didn’t expect that a childhood fascination with cars and automotive culture would lead him down the path it did. Before starting at Kings in 2012, Neno had already been working in automotive tech for almost a decade, following his passion working as a mechanic specializing in road racing and drag racing.
“I started in my early teens working on cars and hanging out with the older guys who would tolerate me,” Neno says. “I didn’t have any formal training, school or anything. It was just a hobby, one that I sometimes used to earn a little extra money.”
In spite of his modesty, it would be this dedication and love of hard work that would come to define him professionally - taking him from the garage and the race track all the way to being Kings Midwest Regional Facilities Manager, overseeing locations in Tennessee, North Carolina, and the Chicagoland area.
Pinchaser at a ‘Boutique Bowling Alley’
In 2012, after roughly seven years working in automotive and a short stint in EMS, Neno was looking to make his next move. Describing himself as “very forward thinking,” he was growing concerned with the longevity of his work in automotive and was hoping to find a more stable career.
Opportunity knocked in the form of a friend recommending he check out the newly opened Kings Rosemont location and apply for an open job as lane technician, a.k.a. a “pinchaser.” Neno was intrigued, and with good reason: The “boutique bowling alley” was a fresh arrival to the Chicago area and only the third Kings location opened - and the first location outside of Massachusetts.
Neno was immediately smitten and was pleased when his application was accepted and he was hired to be a pinchaser. The transition for him felt natural and the pinchasers on his team weren’t all that different from the gearheads he grew up with.
“I liked the machinery, it made sense to me,” he says. “It reminded me of automotive. You look at a machine that isn’t tracking straight or operating as it should and you try and figure out why. Once you figure that out, you can fix it and get it humming.”
Proving Management Right
While many of the Neno’s aptitudes served him well - and was quickly noticed by his managers, particularly Kings current Director of Safety and Facilities Management, Aaron Sagendorf. After a little more than a month and a half, Neno was promoted to Assistant Gaming & Facility Manager, giving him more responsibility and priming him for leadership.
“I’d managed automotive shops before, but I’d still never really worked with a team like this,” Neno says of that initial promotion. “I was just so motivated that they saw leadership in me and took a chance. I wanted to prove to them that they made the right call.”
This motivation and determination - which Neno jokes is a “form of stubbornness” - meant Neno approached every challenge as an opportunity to succeed. Yet even with his eyes on the prize, Neno says that “success” isn’t always the most instructive teacher.
“It's all about trying something new, never just accepting things the way they are if you could do something better,” he says. “Sometimes that means failing - but you have to look beyond your failures. You need to not just focus on how you fail, but the why. Once you know the why, you can take what you’ve done and improve it.”
Everyone is an Asset
Looking back, Neno describes how the culture of Kings at that time was very “green” and still coalescing. What was evident from the jump, however, was that the team and management of Kings was ready, willing and able to invest in hard-working, determined people like Neno - empowering them to make decisions and take ownership over the still-evolving roles they were given. This investment would be fruitful for Neno as, after 8 months as Assistant Gaming & Facility Manager, he was promoted to Rosemont’s Gaming & Facility Manager position.
“One huge win about the way we operate at Kings is that leadership is always pulling in the same direction and looking for people who will pull that way as well,” Neno says. “Everyone is treated as an asset. When they made me Gaming & Facility Manager, everyone really supported me and let me run my department the way I wanted. It’s a very unique opportunity to be handed that kind of freedom.”
Neno served as Gaming & Facility Manager at Rosemont until the opening of the Lincoln Park Kings. Given the rapidly expanding regional footprint, Neno would bounce back and forth to the different Chicagoland Kings, acting in a transitional role as the multi venue Gaming & Facility Manager before finally being promoted to his current title of Regional Facilities Manager mentoring the Midwest locations as well as locations in the south.
Between the many facility responsibilities, Neno has “lorded” over the openings of 4 locations in the company as well as being the project manager of the remodel of the “Draft Room” in the Rosemont location. Between the many plates, Neno spins each day, he also works on the technology and training piece by helping to improve and innovate the systems, training, and routines of the facilities team. He does this by involving the team around him to offer feedback on a smarter, faster, better way of doing things.
Hard Work Pays Off
With his current position, Neno has evolved from the obsessive gearhead tightening nuts and bolts to someone who considers himself more of a mentor - focusing on teaching his team how they can reach their full potential. Neno says that, for those people who might feel daunted by the prospect of leadership or pursuing a “career,” his life can serve as an example that hard work pays off.
“We live in a day and age where physical labor is sometimes frowned upon,” Neno says. “I always think it’s heartening that people still work with their hands.”
When looking to add a member to his team, Neno says that more than experience, training or education, he’s looking for someone with a strong work ethic who is ready to take on a challenge.
“I’ve never worked for a company that put so much trust and investment into their team. Kings basically encourages you to run the company as your own,” Neno says. “If it ever mattered to work hard, the Kings culture is right for you.”
To be continued... because our team's stories are always growing!
Are you ready to work hard and get your hands dirty while you pursue a potentially lifelong career? Our team at Kings is always growing and looking for ambitious, inquisitive people to join the family. Apply today to get started.