Jörg Grawert, exceptional master of his trade, wins 2016 Amy J. Blue Award

Grawert, a lead maintenance multicraft trade technician in Student Housing, is one of this year's winners of the Amy J. Blue Award, which honors staff members who are exceptionally dedicated, supportive of colleagues and passionate about their work.

When Jörg Grawert began working for Stanford Athletics in 1983, his first job was driving a tractor and scooping up golf balls on the Golf Driving Range.

Jorg Grawert

Jörg Grawert, one of this year’s three winners of the Amy J. Blue Award for outstanding Stanford staff members, keeps the heating and plumbing systems in good shape for student housing. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

Thankfully, he said, that particular assignment lasted only a week.

Two years later, when Stanford Athletics needed people with construction skills to help produce Super Bowl XIX, the department turned to Grawert, who had been trained as an electrician (by his father) and as a welder (by the U.S. Navy), and who had picked up carpentry skills as a teenage “gofer” on construction sites on campus.

“I was so in the right place at the right time,” said Grawert, who went on to work for Stanford Athletics for 13 years.

In 2000, Grawert landed a full-time maintenance position in Student Housing, which is part of Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE).

“We work wherever students live and eat,” Grawert said, referring to the 22-person crew headquartered in the Technical Trade Shop on Escondido Road.

Big responsibilities

As a lead maintenance multicraft trade technician, Grawert is responsible for the plumbing and heating systems in student residences large and small, including undergraduate residence halls, suites, theme houses, fraternities and sororities, student cooperatives and self-operated houses, and graduate student apartment buildings.

His zone includes Roble Hall, Lagunita Court, Governor’s Corner, Lyman Graduate Residence and 30 Row Houses. He also is responsible for the Stanford Guest House, which welcomes people visiting Stanford University, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford Medicine.

All told, Grawert and the team are responsible for 55 buildings on the southwest side of campus.

Each morning, Grawert picks up a stack of work orders and the supplies he’ll need for the day, and heads out on his rounds in a white truck emblazoned with R&DE’s red logo.

“I love my job,” Grawert said. “I really like the interaction with students.”

Grawert is one of this year’s winners of the Amy J. Blue Award, which honors staff members who are exceptionally dedicated, supportive of colleagues and passionate about their work.

He is the second member of his family to win the award; his father, Herb Grawert, won the award in 2000, the same year he retired from Stanford.

This year, the other two Amy J. Blue Award winners are Lynn Dixon, a faculty data systems specialist in Faculty Affairs, and Nancy Lonhart, associate director of the Center for Health Policy at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and division manager of Primary Care & Outcomes Research in the Department of Medicine.

President John Hennessy will present each recipient with an Amy J. Blue Award on Tuesday, May 17, in the Gunn Atrium of Bing Concert Hall, which is located at 327 Lasuen Street, at Museum Way. The ceremony, which is open to families, friends and colleagues of the recipients, is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

Dedicated to excellence

Grawert was born in Eutin, Germany, a village on the Baltic Sea in northern Germany. In 1962, when he was 4 years old, his family immigrated to California. That same year his father, an electrician by trade, landed a maintenance job at Stanford.

Jörg – pronounced Yorg – began working on campus construction sites as a teenager.

“My dad lined me up with contractors that were renovating student residences,” Grawert said. “He would drop me off at the job site in the morning and pick me up in the afternoon.”

In nominating Grawert for the award, colleagues praised his dedication to the job and the pride he takes in his work. They commended his leadership, his ability to connect with students and his positive attitude.

“Jörg takes full ownership of his work, performing comprehensive, extremely high quality services – nothing is left to chance,” said Mark McBirney, associate director for maintenance and building security in Student Housing.

“His workmanship is exemplary. His mastery of his trade is exceptional. He is extremely responsive and provides excellent customer service to internal staff customers and students alike. Within Student Housing, he is a universally acknowledged leader who is well-respected for his knowledge and exceptional work – which resulted in his recent promotion to a lead role.”

Matthew Geenen, a housing building manager, said Grawert stays ahead of the curve by identifying maintenance issues early and correcting them before they affect residents.

“I can say without reservation that when I hear that Jörg has been assigned a task, be it small or extremely complicated, I know that the task will get done in a timely fashion, all of its details will be addressed, and that he will leave his ‘customers’ (students and me) extremely satisfied,” Geenen said.

Marie Oamek, manager of housing information and communication in Stanford Housing, said Grawert goes out of his way to make sure students are as comfortable as possible in their campus homes.

“Jörg keeps the buildings in such good shape that the students might not even realize he’s there,” Oamek said. “When he does work with students, he goes out of his way to explain things. He teaches undergraduate students how their heating works, and he shows graduate students (who may be living in their first apartments) how to plunge a toilet and how to close the shut-off valves under kitchen and bathroom sinks. He answers any questions they might have. He always gives them a friendly greeting.”

Rodger Whitney, executive director of student housing at Stanford, said Grawert is dedicated to excellence.

“Jörg takes pride in always improving, in taking conscientious responsibility for the buildings under his auspices, and in staying connected to the students and senior staff members who live in the residences he supports every day – showing us all how a single person motivates, inspires and drives success,” Whitney said.

“In terms of a positive attitude, Jörg shines! It is clear to anyone who interacts with him he loves his job and Stanford University. He obviously takes great pleasure in the exacting details, the advancements and, most of all, the people that he works with on a daily basis. When problems arise, his attitude supports everyone around him, calming them with his caring, his palpable knowledge and his love of outstanding service. Jörg Grawert is among the top 1 percent of staff members I have ever had the privilege of having on my team.”