Nearly 20 years ago, Ron Spencer was a newcomer to facility management, having just taken his job at the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center. Soon enough, he had a question and he did what came naturally, he asked another Florida building manager. He was surprised the source was less than forthcoming. "We're so far apart it's not like we were competitors," Spencer recalled. "I said, 'This is crazy. We should be able to pick up the phone and talk.'"

In 2004, that's e...

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