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WHY HE LEFT, WHY HE CAME BACK:
A CONVERSATION WITH LVS’ MARK GRACZYK

After four years of working at LVS, foreman Mark Graczyk left last August to become an electric controls mechanic at the University of Illinois Chicago. The salary, benefits and learning opportunities looked good for the father of two sons, ages two and ten months.

Then came the Christmas carols.

"They invited me back to the Christmas party so I attended. As soon as I walked in and saw everybody, I knew I was home," said Mark. "That's when serious thoughts of making a return to LVS sunk in. They were happy to see me and I was happy to see them." Somewhere between the cocktail meatballs and sugar cookies sprinkled with red and green, Mark thought how great it would be to return.

By February 2, he was back. His return proved timely. LVS was experiencing explosive growth early in the year and needed project manager to help maintain great customer service. "There are a lot of good guys here," said Mark. "These big jobs are tough and those relationships are hard to come by. LVS feels like a family to me. That's one key element I missed when I left. It took me getting away from it to see that."

Mark points out that working for a contractor compared to being an in-house mechanic at a huge entity are two completely different experiences. He likes the daily demands and pressure to perform at LVS. There is no end to learning with the wide variety of projects either. Mark's most memorable ones were the hardest: the Cook County Jail, UIC's Mile Square Health Center, and the all-time game changer, Silver Cross Hospital. "We learned a ton at Silver Cross," he said, "and that catapulted me in terms of how I thought to run work and run projects."

With each job, he became more passionate about low voltage electrical. "I was gaining more confidence in myself knowing that I was making the right moves," he said. "It solidified that I knew what I was doing. I believed in myself doing projects that, at first, were intimidating."

Now a resident of New Lenox, Mark grew up in Burbank, Illinois, not far from Midway Airport. He wrestled at Reavis High School, continuing on for one more year in college. According to Mark, the grueling sport gave him the "pillars" of a hard work-ethic mentality where athletes trade bumps, bruises and losses for learning not to repeat mistakes and self-reliance. "I liked working with my hands. That comes from my dad. It's instinctive." He joined Electrician’s Local Union 134 out of Chicago. "I could learn things quickly but my work ethic is where I succeeded," said Mark.

Today, Mark is Project Manager, which means he helps the foremen manage projects. He also assists Nick Siwak, LVS' superintendent. Calling himself a "jack-of-all-trades," Mark uses his knowledge to steer projects in the right direction, strengthening relationships along the way so deadlines are met and the quality of work stays high. In addition, he prepares for projects coming up, shoring up issues that have not been addressed.

After returning to LVS, Mark felt like he had never left. Mark relates his work ethic at LVS to his most important job, that of being a father. "Here's what I want to teach my sons: it’s easy to tell somebody to do something," he said, "but if you lead by example, it means a lot more."