Ben Lehnerer, a project manager in A M King’s Greenville office, spends his days managing construction projects for industrial manufacturing and commercial clients. On any given day he might be tracking finances through a job, analyzing contractual risks or prequalifying subcontractors. He also provides ongoing direction to interns, project engineers and assistants.
What Lehnerer has recognized most from being a manager is that every day provides new opportunities for learning from those with different skill sets, perspectives and experiences. That fact was driven home over the past 12 months as his team volunteered with six different non-profit organizations in the Upstate. Their recent stint as “Guest Chef” for Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Carolinas (RMH) in Greenville illustrates how co-workers can effectively work together outside the office – enjoying the camaraderie as they help others.
“We’re a bit like Food Network’s Worst Cooks in America,” explains Andre Harris, Business Unit leader for A M King’s Greenville regional operation. “Some of us don’t know how to boil broccoli, cut raw chicken, or really cook anything… but luckily, other team members happen to be great cooks so they take charge when we cook for the families staying at our local Ronald McDonald House.”
All of A M King-Greenville’s volunteer activity emphasizes strengths and weaknesses that aren’t apparent at the office, drawing them closer as a team. Of course, their efforts also help them become more engaged with their community and offer them an opportunity to help those in the community who need it. They have soft spot for organizations that benefit children.
Their volunteer whirlwind began in summer 2018 when a friend of Rita Burch, project assistant, suggested they construct a vegetable garden for the Greer Soup Kitchen.
“I pushed our group to the edge that day,” explains Lehnerer. “We built nearly 30 raised planting beds and made at least 500 trips from the parking lot to fill them with dirt.”
Like A M King’s Charlotte office, the Greenville team has identified multiple community service opportunities staggered throughout the year. For example, this past spring they worked with Hands on Greenville (HOG) on several community service projects. This fall, they are scheduled to play in a golf tournament benefiting the Greenville Care Center. Each October, they participate in the Greater Greenville Folds of Honor Golf Classic at The Cliffs Keowee Vineyards in Sunset, S.C. — this year as a Purple Heart Sponsor. In December, they will once again support the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program.
In between all of these many volunteer endeavors is one of their favorites — serving as Guest Chef at the Ronald McDonald House. The Greenville team’s relationship with RMH in Greenville began last November, in part because a long-standing history between A M King’s Charlotte office and Ronald McDonald House Charities in North Carolina.
The Greenville team wanted to create their own niche at the Ronald McDonald House. They found it in the kitchen. They’ve cooked roasted chicken and vegetables; prepared a taco bar with chocolate chip dessert lasagna; and have made sloppy joe’s with macaroni and cheese, to name a few. To date they have served as Guest Chef at the Ronald McDonald House four times and have plans to work their magic one more time this year.
“It’s not just a drop-the-food-off situation,” says Lehnerer. “We collaborate on all of the menus, do all of the shopping — and then we cook, we talk, we get dirty, People stop in and thank us. It’s great. We are committed not only to serving the families at RMH, but also serving the Greenville community as a whole.”
As with any other project he manages, Lehnerer holds a lessons-learned session afterwards. The consensus? Bring an apron. Don’t get too complicated. Don’t make salmon and asparagus for kids. Most important? “Make a plan and have fun with it,” he says. “This isn’t work. It’s about helping others while we learn from and about the people we work with.”
A M King is an integrated Design-Build firm based in Charlotte, NC, with an office in Greenville, SC, that consistently and successfully delivers quality projects throughout the United States. With an experienced team committed to protecting clients’ assets, the company provides property consulting, design and engineering, construction and facility services in the sectors of industrial manufacturing, food processing, food distribution, healthcare and commercial properties. A M King’s exemplary track record demonstrates that the company is focused on its mission to be the best in the industry.