2021 40 Under 40: Jeff Mundstock

Nov. 23, 2021
Jeff Mundstock, Director of Maintenance, Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority/Metro (SORTA)
  • One word to describe yourself: Hard-working
  • Alma Mater: Cincinnati State Technical Community College
  • Fun fact about yourself: I have a beautiful wife with four awesome kids: a 16-year-old girl (young woman), 12-year-old boy and 10-year-old twins (boy and a girl).
  • Favorite station or stop that you have ever visited or frequent: The last time I visited Gillig in Livermore, Calif., I took BART down to the Embarcadero station, and from there we used the trolley system to go throughout the town.
  • Favorite route you have ever ridden or frequent: The route 33 in Cincinnati. Now that I work at Metro and have gotten more involved with the inner workings of the service we provide, I learned early on in my career that the route 33 is one of our most popular and route with one of the highest ridership at Metro.

As director of maintenance for the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA)/Cincinnati Metro, Jeff Mundstock is responsible for all fleet and facility maintenance. This includes 357 fixed-route buses, 55 paratransit vehicles, three bus garages, 22 park and ride locations and more than a half-dozen transit centers, including SORTA's main hub at Government Square in Downtown Cincinnati, the Riverfront Transit Center and the newly opened Northside Transit Center.

Mundstock is always quick to assist in new projects and in 2020, he contributed to many key initiatives while at the same time responding to the unprecedented maintenance demands brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For example, in his previous role of manager of technical operations for SORTA, Mundstock led the revision and implementation of an improved maintenance apprenticeship program. Through his vision, SORTA can identify and develop its internal talent to find future top-level technicians from within. He was also instrumental in creating a pilot four-day work week for technicians and supervisors in both the heavy repair division and body shop. This initiative has paid great dividends through increased productivity and improved employee morale. And, as the project manager responsible for the design and acquisition of new buses, Mundstock’s efforts have led to upgrades that focus on a better experience for both customers and bus operators while continuing the drive to improve the safety of SORTA’s fleet.

Mundstock’s technical expertise and forward-thinking allowed him to play an important role in helping shape the future of SORTA. He has served as a key team member in the development of the “No-Low” emission fleet and infrastructure planning and has led the procurement of two bus builds and orders. In 2020, Mundstock led the installation of upgraded passenger seating and on-board monitors that display all internal camera feeds in real time. He also supervised the procurement and installation of prototype driver area safety barriers on the fleet to explore a potential added safety and security element for operators.

In terms of COVID-19, since the pandemic began, Mundstock has been at the forefront of SORTA’s initiatives, such as leading the design and fabrication of custom-made operator barriers. These barriers were designed, constructed and installed in-house by SORTA maintenance technicians, saving money and shortening production time. Mundstock helped guide SORTA in its selection of an EPA-rated Tier 1 disinfectant that kills the coronavirus for up to 90 days on surfaces. Mundstock also helped pilot and manage the installation of hand sanitizing stations through SORTA’s workplaces, as well as on all fixed-route buses.

With these accomplishments, SORTA staff credit Mundstock’s efforts, talent and dedication to bettering service reliability to levels not seen in years. He was also honored with a “Four Under Forty” award from the Ohio Public Transportation Association, one of four selected from among the more than 70 public transportation systems across the state of Ohio. 

Is there a specific experience that led you to where you are today?

I have been a car mechanic by trade for a majority of my career. I have worked in small independent shops, luxury car dealers and even had my own repair shop for years. Public transit was never on my radar as a career choice until I had the opportunity to work for Metro. I began my career as a 3rd shift Maintenance Supervisor in 2012. A friend of mine was working for Metro at the time and told me there was a supervisor position open. I thought I would give it a shot, and I am glad that I did. From there I became our Technical Services/Training Coordinator which to be honest was one of my favorite positions at Metro, and opened my eyes to the transit industry as a whole. In that position I had the opportunity to be introduced to our bus build process, meet vendors all throughout our industry and see how big this industry really is. From there I became a Garage Manager at Metro’s Bond Hill location in 2016, and later moved to the Technical Operations Manager in 2017. In the Technical Operations Manager role, I worked directly under a veteran in the transit industry for nearly 40 years, Carlos Rowland. Carlos taught me a great deal about Metro and how to handle and carry myself in tough situations.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Mostly working with people… For most of my life I have worked with small groups of co-workers in the maintenance departments at car dealerships, or running my own shop where I only had a maximum of 4 employees at one time. Working for Metro, we have close to 900 employees. At first it took some adjustment for me to work in an operation with that many employees, but the longer I work at Metro (almost 10 years now), it is awesome to see how everyone works together to achieve a common goal.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Being part of determining the future direction of our organization... We are expanding at Metro and this is a very exciting time to be a member of our organization. We are starting to have a lot of conversations on expansion and alternative fuels/low emission solutions for our operation. That all being said, while things are looking up at Metro, we are also dealing with a shrinking work force in regards to skilled labor which makes our expansion and growth all that much more challenging.

Accomplishment you’re most proud of and why?

Building the current team that is in Maintenance at Metro. The people that work in my department are a great group of guys, and we all have an outstanding relationship and work really well together. I am proud of the team we have become, and the team that we are continuing to grow and become.

Best advice/tip/best practice to share from your area of expertise?

Be flexible and open to new ideas. I have found that going into a situation thinking you have all of the answers and solutions is the wrong way to handle any issue. Work with your team, ask for help and rely on others when you can to help make the best decisions possible. There are a lot of experienced, smart people in our industry who have a lot of thoughts and great ideas. Be open to change and listen to all the options before making decisions.