Recruiting is an essential task for the U.S. military to maintain its strength in numbers, and a recruiting office is where some start their military career. It can also be a prospective service member’s first impression of the military.
One of the specialized programs within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s Real Estate Division is the Joint Recruiting Facilities Program. It is through this function in which all military branch recruitment offices are acquired and maintained. Under a Department of Defense directive, the Secretary of the Army is designated the executive agent for recruiting facilities, responsible for the acquisition, maintenance, physical security, and disposal of space needed for recruiting offices, intermediate command, and main stations of the Military Services—meaning USACE Real Estate executes the recruiting mission on behalf of the U.S. Army.
The Recruiting Program nationally has an annual budget of $317 million, and the Louisville District makes up approximately 10 percent of the national program.
In fiscal year 2022, the district completed 264 actions and supported 3,544 recruiters, 872 individual recruiting offices, and managed 355 leases. That is equivalent to managing approximately one million square feet with an annual program budget of $32 million.
“The military services we support includes Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Air Force Reserves, Space Force and Air National Guard,” said Ashley Klimaszewski, Louisville District Real Estate Division chief.
The Louisville District is the real estate agent for the Joint Recruiting Facilities Program within the district’s military program area of responsibility, which includes Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Illinois.
“But we are frequently called upon to help other districts achieve their recruiting mission when needed,” Klimaszewski said.
Each member of the team plays a critical role in executing the real estate recruiting mission at the district.
“If the military services need a new recruiting office, our realty specialists conduct market surveys, locate potential new offices, negotiate the new lease and manage that lease for its term,” Klimaszewski said. “Real Estate is also responsible for negotiating lease renewals when a lease’s current term expires.”
The Louisville District Recruiting Branch has 15 realty specialists and three realty assistants dedicated to the mission. The leases are broken down into territories and each specialist is responsible for managing the leases within their assigned territory.
The realty specialists wear many hats. A few of the tasks realty specialists are responsible for include performing market surveys and determining market rental rate; calculating cost estimates for new buildouts and upgrade work; attending preliminary, intermediate, and post construction meetings to ensure that the space is being built, updated, upgraded as specified because all construction work must be inspected before funds can be released; obtaining construction bids; inspecting recruiting stations, usually semi-annually if no construction work has been performed; finding space to lease in the local market to meet the recruiting office needs; negotiating new and renewal leases; and problem solve if there are any maintenance or security issues. Every issue must be addressed and rectified immediately, according to Klimaszewski.
Realty assistants are also integral to executing the mission. Realty assistant tasks include making rental payments each month on 355 leases; making over 1,000 utility payments each month to include electric, gas, water and sewer; making approximately 250 janitorial payments each month; and committing, obligating, invoicing and paying for every upgrade action.
“Our recruiting branch employees are constantly under a pressing deadline,” Klimaszewski said. “Work is very fast paced.”
In addition to pressing deadlines, the team faces other challenges.
“Getting property owners to agree to our lease is often challenging if they have never worked with us before,” Klimaszewski said.
Finding suitable space for new offices can also be challenging. The military services USACE supports have very specific delineated areas for recruiting. If one were to go outside that perimeter, they would be in another recruiting office’s territory.
“My goal as the Chief of Real Estate is to support our customer, so they can meet the recruiting mission for the Department of Defense. It is incumbent upon me to ensure the realty specialists and realty assistants have the tools, support and encouragement they need to accomplish the mission,” Klimaszewski said. “What makes recruiting a fun program to work are the timelines and metrics. If you have a competitive spirit, it’s great. Every district with a recruiting mission has a goal (number of assigned actions), a budget, and a definitive timeline to get the job done. Once it’s done, you start over the next fiscal year. Additionally, you can physically see the fruits of your labor when you walk into a recruiting office.”