Inside ECS – Dennis Dandino, Building Services
Every day, over 14,000 students and staff depend on the plumbing skills of one very important man – Dennis “Dino” Dandino. As the district’s only plumber, it’s Dino’s job to keep water flowing through over one million feet of pipe.
Dino’s career began when he enlisted in the Air Force, where he learned the trade of plumbing. He served in the military for seven years, and then worked for a local plumbing contractor. Through his work with a contractor, he got to know the ECS team, including plumber Jerry Becker. When he knew Jerry was getting close to retiring, Dino asked him to keep him in mind for the open plumbing position. For almost 12 years, Dino has proudly served our district as our plumber.
“The great part about working at Elkhart Community Schools is that I know all the buildings,” said Dino. “I take ownership and pride in my work. I know my style of plumbing and I know the equipment, so it’s easier for me to work on it. I also like that I’m not here to “make money” for a contractor, but to save money for the district.”
A typical day for Dino includes reviewing his work orders and prioritizing the day’s projects. “I try to work in classrooms when I know there will not be students, as I don’t want to disrupt the learning. Kitchens are also always a priority. And I’m always on standby for emergencies.”
And emergencies do happen from time to time. Recently, a clean water pipe burst in a Woodland bathroom, resulting in water in the bathroom and hallways. One of Dino’s most memorable moments was when a lift station flooded at Elkhart Central. “It was January, and it had snowed quite a bit, then it rained. There was so much water that it overwhelmed the system. We worked hard to make sure water did not flood into the school.”
Working in the trades is something that Dino enjoys and he’s always encouraging others to look into. “Not all students are college-bound. We will always need people who work with their hands, and I think it’s important for people to recognize that labor isn’t all physical. It takes so much thought and intelligence to work through problems. The trades are a great way to make a living.”
Outside of work, Dino enjoys spending time with his family and serving at his church. He met his wife Andrea when he was stationed in Germany, and is the proud father of Nick, a mechanic, and Alisha, a nursing student. He also enjoys spending time outside – hiking, walking, and doing yard work, and riding his motorcycle in Michigan.
Dino is currently reading: Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World by Bob Goff, a story about unconditional love