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Nicki Frank Receives Lawrence W. Whelan Lifetime Achievement Award

The industry legend and ConnexFM member of 25 years was celebrated at the 2022 National Conference in April.

There was no shortage of facilities management stars at the ConnexFM 2022 National Conference in Long Beach, CA, this April, but one shone brightest of all. Nicki Frank, Founder of Thoreau Facility Services and longtime fixture of the ConnexFM community was presented with the event’s highest honor: the Lawrence W. Whelan Lifetime Achievement Award. In his introduction, Frank’s “dear friend of many years” Ron Rau said it best: “A facilities management trailblazer with over 30 years of business leadership and owner experience, Nicki built her businesses from the ground up, overcoming all odds.”

Nicki Frank, Thoreau Services Inc.

The award was a natural fit for Frank, whose love of business has truly been lifelong. “I started my first business when I was about nine years old, making jewelry and selling it door-to-door,” she recalled. She went on to start two other successful ventures before founding Thoreau Facility Services in 1990. “There weren’t many women in the industry at that time,” Frank said, and as a single mother of three, it wasn’t always easy. “But I have always been in business for myself … I always felt like it was very important to be independent. And I never felt like being a woman held me back in any way. I always just went after what I wanted.”

Frank joined ConnexFM in 1997, at the suggestion of Rau — who would go on to present her lifetime achievement award 25 years later.

“That’s what was so touching,” Frank said. “Ron brought me into ConnexFM and then he was the one to hand me this Lifetime Achievement award.” And her personal connection to this honor didn’t end there. “It means something to me, because Larry [Whelan, for whom the award is named] and I were competitors way back when. So getting his award is very touching to me.”

ConnexFM has been an integral part of Frank’s professional life. Until COVID-19 disrupted her travel, she had never missed a conference. She credits the association with introducing her to many of her clients, peers and close friends. “ConnexFM has brought me so many friendships … and that includes my competitors too,” she said. “It’s an amazing network.”

Frank was emotional as she stepped onstage to accept her honor, along with a bouquet of white roses. “This organization … what it has meant to me over the years that I’ve been here, and the friendships I’ve developed, I just want to say thank you.”

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