Managing the KMCC: the man behind the mall
“Boiling the ocean” is how Patrick Daize likes to describe his job, and given the monumental nature of his position, he may have good reason to see his work as a challenge.
As the Kaiserslautern Military Community Center manager, Mr. Daize is responsible for bringing together several agencies and nearly 1,500 workers from all levels to ensure smooth day-to-day operations at the facility.
It is a new position to the Department of Defense, and Mr. Daize does something most people usually do not associate with the military – he manages a mall.
The KMCC is Ramstein’s latest addition to the sprawling base and military community. It is an 844,000-square-foot facility that brings shopping, dining, lodging and other services together under one roof. It’s also the largest American military shopping center in the world.
“This place is referred to as a military community center. In reality, some folks see it as a hotel, some view it as a shopping center or a mall, but I see it as a city,” Mr. Daize said. “And it’s a city that can be populated with up to 20,000 people at any one time. It has the infrastructure, the plant, the requirements and everything else you would find in a small city.”
The KMCC serves a military community of more than 53,000 people, not including the thousands of visitors who transit Ramstein every month, and Mr. Daize recognizes the difficulty in meeting everyone’s expectations when they visit the facility, but he is confident that his team can do exactly that.
“I see myself as more or less of an administrator of this facility. I see myself as a catalyst for a positive environment and I see my position as being one to reach out to people to keep them working towards a common goal of efficiency and effectiveness,” Mr. Daize said.
He refers to an old Irish saying that “bricks and mortar may make a house, but the laughter of children is what makes a home.” He uses the saying to illustrate part of what his role is at the KMCC.
Mr. Daize’s “family” consists of all the staff and employees at their KMCC home, and although none report directly to him, he is responsible for all operations and maintenance of the building. He is the go-to person for issues that need attention and provides a future vision for the facility by focusing on the team concept.
Mr. Daize believes his job takes a good understanding of personnel and people.
“It takes an understanding of bringing a team together to ensure everyone works to serve and support the needs of the patrons that visit the KMCC,” Mr. Daize said. “But it also takes an understanding of infrastructure and operations.”
This is an aspect that Mr. Daize is intimately familiar with. In his most recent job, he served as a bilateral relations officer between the U.S. and Mexican governments. He has also directed engineering and structure operations for the military in places like Iraq, Turkey and Kuwait. Between 2004 and 2008, he served on the headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe staff as a project manager, so he knew what was expected of him when he arrived at the KMCC.
And understanding the number of eyes that are on him watching for continued success, Mr. Daize has a realistic view of where things stand with the recent start-up of operations.
“I would say for now, the biggest challenge is not having all the resources or the staff this building requires, but it’s still new,” Mr. Daize said. “All of this is still new to the Department of Defense, so it’s not a surprise that we first need to identify the requirements of an operation like this.”
But all of the discussion of challenges aside, Mr. Daize calls his work a labor of love and is quick to point out how thankful he is to be the first KMCC manager.
“To be trusted with this operation is not something I take lightly,” he said. “I know this is not a 9-to-5 job and my perspective is we should give whatever it takes to make this the experience that everyone is wishing for.
“It’s personally a great opportunity for me and I intend to ensure this facility remains as it was meant to be – a wonderful experience for our military members overseas,” Mr. Daize said.
As the KMCC continues to grow and all the agencies that have a role in the facility continue to develop their idea of what it takes to support such a large community so far from home, Mr. Daize will be at the forefront bridging any gaps that may appear between agencies, workers and customers.
Mr. Daize often strolls the corridors of the KMCC smiling as he moves along from vendor to vendor offering friendly handshakes. He often speaks about building relationships and bringing people together.
“That’s what I’m here to do,” he said. “Take care of Team KMCC.”
(Courtesy of 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs)