What does it take to be a successful executive in today's changing world of commercial real estate? Is there some magic formula that propels certain people to the top of their profession, while others simply lag behind, wondering why the crowd passed them by?
Those are the $64,000 questions. And this is not your typical story for National Real Estate Investor, because the people behind the booming multifamily industry are not typical in any way, shape or form. The following executives have distinguished themselves from their peers in many ways, and yet still belong to an elite fraternity that is driving the apartment market into the future.
We have attempted to capture a few interesting tidbits from each of these on-the-movers, both to illustrate that ours is an industry of individuals, and also to explore how the pathways to success are as varied and unusual as in any business setting.
We asked each executive to answer a series of questions, from which we extracted the more interesting snippets of dialogue for your enjoyment.
To be sure, Jonathan Kempner has many reasons why he has been so successful in melding together the nation's apartment industry over the past 12 years. But how does this admitted Democrat with all those liberal ideas work so well with all of these largely-Republican, conservative real estate folks?
The answer may be that Kempner is a bit of a politician, and he wears many hats well. Of course, if you had three adorable daughters and a psychiatrist spouse, you might be pretty well grounded, too.
"Anybody who has met me knows the passion I have for the apartment industry and the genuine love I have for what we represent and do," he says. "Whatever modest success I have had professionally is in large part attributable to the colleagues I have selected to work with me. I am smart enough to know that I am not as smart as I would like to sometimes think I am. I learned early on in my career that I should surround myself with people who can do things better than I can. That way they can blossom as individuals and I can just smile and look good."
Unlike many of his colleagues, Kempner's path to the multifamily industry was a circuitous one, yet he will admit it was also fortuitous. "My first exposure to the multifamily business was more by chance than design," he remembers. "After law school, I worked at a fancy law firm for a few years and then, realizing that I was less than fully stimulated there, I moved over to the Democratic National Committee as assistant to the treasurer to help with the party's 1980 election campaigns. While our fundraising efforts were very successful and I had a hell of a good time, it seems that the voters were a lot less enamored of President Carter than I was."
Low and behold, a real estate opportunity confronted him and there was no turning back. "With no desire to return to the bowels of a big law firm to rack up even more billable hours, I was blessed with the opportunity to become assistant general counsel of The Charles E. Smith Cos., one of the largest apartment developers and managers in the Washington, D.C., area. >From there I made, what turned out to be in retrospect, some real positive career moves serving as assistant director and general counsel of the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation and then joining Oxford Development Corp. as its vice president and general counsel. At the time, Oxford was the third-largest apartment developer in the country, as Leo Zickler had assembled, in my opinion, one of the most impressive arrays of real estate practitioners ever put together."
Which in turn led him to the NMHC. "Among my responsibilities as general counsel of Oxford was to represent the firm on the National Multi Housing Council, in addition to the National Apartment Association, National Realty Committee and National Housing Conference. I have vivid and fond memories of being a little shlepper sitting around the table at NMHC meetings in awe of such industry personalities as Preston Butcher, Howard Ruby, Eric Eichler and Dick Michaux.
"When, in 1987, my predecessor Steve Driesler moved over to the Realtors, I jumped at the opportunity to lead the day-to-day operations of the Council since it brought together my three professional loves: real estate, government and the law. Plus, a close friend had always said I was destined to become the social director at Grossinger's in the Catskills because of personality traits which have proved valuable in membership recruitment and planning our meetings."
Now it's some 12 years later and Kempner has expanded on his socializing skills to turn the NMHC into the nation's preeminent multifamily voice on Capitol Hill.
"I believe there are two important skills I bring to my job," he says. "First, given my background in the apartment industry, I can put myself in our members' shoes and have a pretty good feel for their needs and wants. While I certainly don't always get it right, I think I generally know what interests them, what moves them, and what causes them heartburn at night. Just as a doctor does better if he has been a patient, the fact that I spent many years working for some excellent apartment firms has only enhanced my ability to serve our members.
"The second quality I take pride in was first pointed out to me when I was working at the law firm. While my legal expertise as a young lawyer was certainly subject to question, one of the senior partners at the firm nonetheless declared that 'Kempner has sachel,' a Yiddish word meaning that I had native common sense, the ability to get from point a to point b with good judgment and whatever the obstacles. In other words, I think it is fair to say that I know how to get things done.
"Above all, the most enjoyable part of my job is working with the Council's members and my staff colleagues. The fact is that in American business few industries feature as interesting and stimulating personalities as those found in real estate. With very few exceptions, our members are fun, immensely intelligent, and just a plain joy to work for and with. They certainly have a joie de vivre that is infectious. The same qualities that make them so successful make our association so successful - they help when you need them and they know how to delegate. Likewise, the NMHC staff is as good as it gets in terms of competence, integrity, diligence and professional pride. Mutual respect and endearing senses of humor make the work days go by very quickly."
Before we move on to some of the NMHC's prominent members, we leave you with one last insight into Jonathan Kempner's psyche.
"My fondest childhood memory is when I was 11 years old and playing in the Detroit Pistons peewee basketball league at Cobo Hall. I was the youngest player on the team and, as was the tradition, I was put into the game in the last 30 seconds just before the Pistons took the court. As soon as I got my hands on the ball, I flung it from near center court and somehow it went in the basket. I got a standing ovation from the thousands of fans waiting for the pro game, and to this day I still get a big smile when I remember how excited I was (and how I slept in my uniform that night)."
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times for Richard "Ric" Campo. "Growing up professionally in Houston was the most interesting part of my career. We enjoyed the best real estate market in America from 1976 though 1981. Then we started Camden during the worst market in America from 1982 1987."
But obviously Campo was quick to adapt, overcoming the challenges and creating one of America's most successful apartment REITs along the way (ranked No. 7 in equity market capitalization by Bear, Stearns).
"I got into the multifamily business in 1982. My company had completed construction on three high rises for sale condominiumbuildings. The economy in Houston was terrible at the opening of the buildings limiting a successful sell out hence multifamily rentals instead."
That must be why Campo cites his desire for continuing challenges and change of the status quo as key drivers for him personally. "I enjoy the challenge of being involved in a dynamic industry and trying to be the best," says Campo. "I enjoy being associated with an industry that provides customers high-quality housing alternatives in unique locations. It is fun and rewarding to be able to create a positive influence on so many peoples' lives."
Campo steered Camden to become an NMHC member in 1993 after the firm went public. "I was looking for a forum to meet other operators to exchange ideas and improve deal flow."
Family is a big consideration as Campo balances personal and professional time. "I live close to home and my children's' schools which makes it easy to participate in key events. The key to balancing personal and professional time is to make it happen as a priority."
It also plays a role in his leisure activities. "My favorite thing is going to my daughter's high school plays in which she is performing. In addition, I enjoy golf, skiing, and just visiting with friends."
Decades later, Campo fondly remembers snow skiing in Lake Tahoe in two feet of dry powdered snow after school was canceled.
Building houses in Vermont might not be the makings of an apartment king, but for Doug Crocker II, it was the first step down that road. Today, Crocker runs the nation's largest apartment REIT, Equity Residential Properties Trust, a company both he and Sam Zell masterminded years ago when Equity Residential went public in 1993.
It may seem ages ago, but Crocker followed his 1962 homebuilding stint in Vermont just five years later, in 1967, by joining the likes of New York real estate moguls Larry Wein and Harry Helmsley. From there the rest, as they say, is history. In the late-1970s he met his biggest challenge - reorganizing a $1.5 billion real estate company.
He admits that "understanding the numbers" is the most important skill he brings to the job.
Crocker says that working hard and being informed is the No. 1 reason for his professional success. "I really enjoy creating a company in the multifamily sector where no one has gone before, and bringing a corporate culture to an entrepreneurial field. [The multifamily industry] is very dynamic and never static. I love the challenge of setting new standards while motivating our employees."
He learned early in life that teamwork is more than a buzzword, it really works. My fondest childhood memory is being on the undefeated preparatory school wrestling team. We gathered our energy and strength from each other. The team was stronger than the individuals collectively."
When he isn't working hard, Crocker plays hard at skiing, sailing and gardening.
To Randy Hawthorne, being a die-hard Boston Red Sox baseball fan is a true metaphor for the apartment industry. "Rooting for the Red Sox for now more than 30 years has certainly taught me the virtues of patience, and acquainted me with the ebbs and flows of short term success and failure," he says. "While by nature not calm, nor quietly reserved, a calmness does settle in with each Red Sox season, and it is certainly preferable to experience the heartbreak of failure vicariously through the ups and downs of many Red Sox seasons than through my professional experiences."
It was 32 years ago that Hawthorne made his way to Boston to attend college, and he hasn't left yet. "The primary reason for my professional success is tied to my tenure at Boston Financial and the business friends and associates I've known since the first time I came to Boston Financial for a summer job between college and business school in 1971. Obviously, the business has seen tremendous booms and busts, and I've been fortunate to experience and grow and prosper through it all."
So in other words, he jumped into the apartment business without any preconceptions about the industry.
"I will admit that there is a satisfaction to seeing bricks and mortar and peoples' homes result from one's efforts. Something good results, i.e., housing, which is one of life's most basic needs. Even better is that everybody in this business does it in their own fashion and creates their own opportunities and profits with a real entrepreneurial flair."
What has made the difference in his career? "The most important skill that I bring to the job is an ability to understand the goal of the firm/client and then to understand what needs to be done to co-ordinate a number of peoples' efforts to make the deal happen; and then to make sure that you can do it time after time."
Hawthorne's advice for balancing personal and professional time? "Just pick something that you like to do that has nothing to do with work, and dedicate your energies to it, always knowing that tomorrow your priorities may change. Be enthusiastic and enjoy, for as a wise friend once said, 'On your deathbed you'll never say that you wished you'd worked that one extra day instead of playing golf.'"
Hawthorne's favorite activities include golf. And more golf. "It takes lots of time and effort and you never quite measure up to your hopes and expectations," he adds. "Sort of like the Red Sox."
A native Chicagoan, Gary Kachadurian has made a pitch or two in his career (he started as a commercial broker), but none more important than for the Notre Dame High School varsity baseball team. "It meant a lot to me. At our first batting practice I threw my best fastball to my teammate Greg Luzinski [who later played for the White Sox and Phillies]. He hit it on the school roof. I focused on golf the next year!"
Now that's knowing how to capitalize on your strengths. Where did that get him? Today, Kachadurian is the president of the NMHC for the 1999-2000 term.
"I decided to enter the multifamily business after, as a commercial broker, I located sites in Chicago for Lincoln Property Company's entry into the apartment market in the Midwest. LPC decided that, if I liked the locations so much, maybe I should also develop the apartments I said would be successful!
"My most interesting event was driving around Chicago as a commercial broker, looking at land sites, with the Lincoln Property Co. partners in 1983. It was the first time I had met them. Money was plentiful, and I thought they were going to buy every corner in the city! I was almost completely quiet for the whole all day tour because I hadn't met the 'Texas' developers before. But in the end they were pretty selective."
To what does Kachadurian chalk up his professional success? "It's the result of choosing, either by marriage or by hiring or with partners, those who have knowledge about life or business that is larger and more diverse than my own knowledge. Success has come by absorbing and listening to them and expanding myself.
"I bring humor and a love of the apartment business to my job. You need both to succeed," he adds.
It also helps to recognize the inherent diversity in real estate in general and rental housing in particular, which changes from market to market and city to city. "Some things work in some markets and not in others. And the real estate community is, as a general rule, a group of outgoing, active people who love what they do. They're great to be around."
And as NMHC's chairman, Kachadurian will be spending even more time with his fellow members. "As with probably 90% of our members, I became involved with the NMHC at Jonathan Kempner's urging. It's been one of the best decisions I've made."
In his off time (when there is any) Kachadurian spends time with his family in Montana, "whether winter skiing or summer fishing or hiking or watching the sun set or the elk graze. Golf has always been a passion, but I'm running out of ways to hit a 5-iron. I plan to keep learning new things every year, and hopefully share and enjoy those with my wife and children."
For some in the multifamily industry, like Moran & Co. partner Mary Ann King, the business is in their blood from early on. King got her master's degree in city and regional planning at Harvard, where she majored in housing deve lopment. In graduate school, she had a summer internship with the Metropolitan Housing Development Corp. with the City of Chicago, working on affordable housing projects.
"My first real job was in the Real Estate Department at Continental Bank in Chicago where I spent several years making condo conversion loans, setting up warehousing lines for syndicators who were investing in apartment properties and making construction loans on apartment properties. For the first decade of my career at Moran & Co. I helped source apartment joint venture development opportunities for our investor clients. Now I spend 100% of my time selling institutional-quality apartment properties. Apartments are in my genes."
She attributes her success to a combination of hard work and "great mentoring," as well as the ability to conduct inspired dealmaking.
"The 'inspirational quotient' is the ability to become 'inspired' by a deal and communicate that inspiration to associates as well as clients both inside and outside the firm. When you are inspired and your staff is inspired, the deal takes on the fervor of a crusade. Ordinary people become capable of extraordinary efforts and extraordinary results. Clients are attracted, not only by the quality of the product, but by the energy and inspiration of the delivery."
King's biggest challenge came with the opening of a Moran & Co. office in Los Angeles.
"It was 1989 and I was naive enough to think that I was going to California to continue our existing business sourcing new development opportunities for our investor clientele. When I got to California, the entire country slid into a recession and California was on the bottom of the heap. No one was building apartments anymore. Very soon I came to realize that the syndication business as I knew it was over. What was worse was that I didn't know what came next."
"It was a painful process to reinvent our business, especially when I was sitting all by myself in Los Angeles and all my partners were in Chicago. But it forced us each of us to pull ourselves out of the trenches and think strategically about our unique strengths and competitive advantages as a firm. Helping to build a business takes a much different skill set than helping to execute someone else's business plan. We are so much stronger as a team for having to rebuild our business together."
Ultimately, King unabashedly favors the sales process.
"I love to sell. So Moran & Co.'s segue from the investment advisory business into the brokerage business was a natural one for me. I love to take a set of numbers and make them come alive with a story. Then, I love to take my story on the road. I like to infect other people with the energy and enthusiasm that the story inspires in me."
To this grandfather of five, doing the deal is still his thing. "I love 'selling' my ideas and negotiating deals," says Matteson. "There is nothing more satisfying than the adrenaline 'surge' of making, then closing, a transaction."
That surge has served Matteson well over his 35 years in the real estate business. "In 1964, a friend who owned several real estate companies (land development, building and sales) persuaded me to become his sales manager. We built and sold apartments, four-plexes, homes and shopping centers," says Matteson.
Today The Matteson Cos. bucks the "go public" trend by remaining privately held. That gives Matteson more freedom than many of his counterparts. In fact, he cites his primary "skill" as "raising money from my partners for various projects."
Running a company in an industry he loves hasn't always been easy, but his naturally optimistic nature and ability to relate to diverse personalities has won the day. "I try very hard to be sensitive to other peoples' feelings, moods and goals," he says.
One of Matteson's greatest joys in both business and personal life has come with the hiring of his son into the company 12 years ago "and watching him develop into an outstanding executive running our three companies on a day-to-day basis."
He takes pride in his work and the industry in which he is a big part. "We are providing a viable alternative for people of all ages to have good rental housing."
Through it all, Matteson has never lost the cocept of team that he learned as a younger man. Just consider this childhood memory: "Winning the Missouri State Junior Baseball Championship at age 14 with a group of young men, many of whom are still my closest friends."
If you ask anyone what they like about Dick Michaux, you get pretty much the same answer every time - he's a great businessman, he has good strategic vision, and he really cares about his company and its people. Those may sound like cliches in today's business world, but Michaux doesn't seem to mind.
"Creating a culture of caring within the company" is one of Michaux' main focuses these days. "I truly care for the people who work for and with me. One of AvalonBay's core values is 'a spirit of caring.' Success is a product of the collective work of all our people, and they are the company's most important asset."
Michaux started his multifamily career when joined Trammell Crow Residential in 1980. "We built our first apartment in 1982," he remembers. Today he runs one of the largest multifamily REITs in the nation.
"The IPO of Avalon was the most interesting event of my career. It created a new approach to financing, reporting and growing the business. A public company can prosper well beyond the careers of those who created it - an evergreen company. If that can be achieved, what a wondrous achievement!"
Michaux has an interesting philosophy for combining work with personal time, which is molded from the corporate mission statement.
"A part of the spirit of caring core value is achieving a balance between work and personal time. One is not more important than the other all the time. There are times when one has to travel for work, work late or work on weekends because work is the priority at that particular time. Other times coaching a soccer team, attending a school play or taking a vacation is the priority. My goal has been to look as forward to going to work every day as I look forward to going home."
Part of his work habits have involved NMHC meetings. "Trammell Crow Residential asked me to be the company's representative to NMHC in 1986, just as Jonathan Kempner was taking over the leadership of NMHC. NMHC has been the most significant contributor to our industry's success over those years."
Mirroring many of his colleagues, Michaux enjoys seeing the end result of his work - creating communities and neighborhoods. "The place where our residents live is their community. A sense of community is very important to them as it says everything about who they are and who they associate with."
Growing up, Michaux remembers associating with his grandmothers and "exploring new territory with lots of mischief" with his peers. "It was hard to get in trouble with your grandmother."
If you're on Bill Millichap's holiday card list, you have a unique insight into the man himself. Let's just say the cards are, uh, different.
But so is Bill. He and M&M chairman George Marcus have built the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company into a national brokerage powerhouse. So what are the drivers behind his success? "I have had the good fortune and the common sense to associate with very talented and driven individuals starting with George Marcus in 1971," says Millichap.
Although he has been involved in the ownership of nearly all types of real estate since 1971, Millichap got hooked on apartments early on. "My first exclusive listing was a 12-unit apartment building in Mountain View, Calif. It sold for $147,500 and convinced me that I was the King of the Apartment Brokers. My ego was rapidly deflated by a longer-than-I-would-have-liked time span between listings."
That early experience honed Millichap's work ethic into one of "a continuing desire to improve combined with a blood pressure-raising competitive streak."
Along the way, he has learned a thing or two about pitching for new business and growing the company. "During a trip to Japan I attempted to explain to potential Japanese clients the advantages of doing business with Marcus & Millichap through an interpreter who did not understand real estate. I later found out that blank stares in Japan mean the same thing they do in the United States. I initially thought the clients were just being stoics."
Are multifamily people different? "I don't separately categorize those involved in multifamily housing. I like the real estate business because it offers forward thinkers a relatively low-risk platform upon which to build wealth. Too bad Wall Street doesn't agree. At least for the moment."
Still, the industry is one of constant challenges. "Running a brokerage company provides the benefit of being able to emotionally soar from the enthusiasm created by the new successful brokers while at the same time remaining grounded by the complaints of some of the old brokers who refuse to change with the times."
He will be the first to explain that he doesn't balance his personal and professional time all that well right now. "My wife is not looking forward to the day I retire. I hate golf and almost all recreational activities."
Many psychologists point to early childhood experiences as being positive influences on adulthood, but as usual, Millichap defies conventionality. My fondest childhood memory is making pipe bombs with my brother and blowing up large sections of our backyard. I would rather not explain why."
You've got to admit, working with Bill must be fun: his favorite activity outside the industry is being the curator of the Woodside, Calif., Rodent Zoo.
We've all heard the famous but often overused line about never giving up, but Geoffrey Stack has lived the phrase. He graduated with an MBA from the Wharton School of Business in 1972, and then served as an aide to U.S. Senator Paul H. Douglas. He also served three years as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, attaining the rank of captain.
"When I graduated from business school in 1972 and determined there was a significant demand for this [multifamily] product on the West Coast."
Prior to the 1993 merger with The SARES Co., Stack was president of Regis Homes in Newport Beach, Calif., establishing the firm as a leader in the development, management and sale of multifamily rental and for-sale properties. From 1977 to 1981, Regis converted about 6,400 apartments to condominiums with gross sales exceeding $368 million. Since the 1980s, Regis built more than 13,000 apartments and condominiums.
His greatest professional challenge? "Having to deal with the 21% prime rate in 1981 and having a significant number of unbuilt condominiums which we were working hard trying to sell."
Despite the never-ending challenges that keep cropping up, Stack says he thrives in the environment. "The excitement of dealing with new and different issues every day and the problem-solving challenges it presents are great. This is an industry with exceptionally bright, creative and industrious individuals and it is always intellectually stimulating to work with them."
Stack first became involved in the NMHC in 1978 when the condominium conversion industry merged with the multifamily rental industry.
Sometimes, Stack harkens back to the simpler days, when he was young, carefree and totally devoid of responsibilities. What's his most endearing childhood memory? "Going to my first baseball game in 1950 with my father to see the Red Sox play in Fenway Park."
Now if only they could only come through in the clutch like Stack.
"Vision and persistence." Those are the words Len Wood uses to describe the main reasons for his professional success. And in real estate, those are real assets.
"I always liked real estate and entered the business in the large-scale community development business during the 1970s. During the recession of 1980-81, I decided that long term, large-scale communities were too risky. If I was going to stay in the industry, I wanted to work with an asset class that had reliable cash flow that couldbe developed and sold within three years. Apartments were a perfect fit, and further, with a steadily growing population, housing to me was a good long-term bet."
Obviously he bet right. Today Wood runs Wood Partners, after spending 12 years in executive positions with Trammell Crow Residential. "I work on strategic issues, hiring and compensation of key people, team building, financial relationships, and risk management.
"By staying close to the markets, I have been able to see developing trends and take advantage of them. As a developer, you are bringing change to the communities in which you work, and there are many obstacles to new development - zoning and neighborhood groups, to name a few. I have found that you must be relentless in the pursuit of your objectives if you are to achieve your goals."
One of the more unique trends he's witnessed was a virtual disbanding of the Trammell Crow Residential (TCR) enterprise into several public entities in the 1990s. "Trammell Crow Residential partners who reported to me at the time [Peter Parrott in Dallas, John Rippel in Houston, and Marc Bromley in Atlanta] decided they wanted to join forces and go public so they could access capital to grow their business. They went public in January of 1994 as Gables Residential Trust. Being an integral part of taking a large private development group public was a fascinating process."
Also fascinating to Wood is the process of building in the industry. "I love being involved in shelter as it is an important part of everyone's life. I also enjoy being involved in a tangible product. If you do a good project, the people will like living there and it will be successful. It is nice to know that you can make people's lives a little bit better by creating a great living environment. I particularly like multifamily because it is relatively affordable housing and it helps prevent suburban sprawl. Working Americans deserve decent, affordable housing and multifamily helps to meet that need."
Working Americans also need to weigh the pros and cons of their professional and personal lifestyles. "I am a firm believer in a balanced life. What is the point of being successful if you are unable to enjoy your success? When things get very busy, you must make personal issues a priority. I put personal issues on my calendar and I keep those appointments just as I do with business commitments."
One of his more pressing business commitments has been his involvement in the NMHC. "TCR was involved with NMHC very early in its existence. When Dick Michaux took Avalon public in 1993, I became TCR's senior representative to the NMHC. I believe NMHC provides a vital leadership role for the multifamily industry and that has motivated me to become involved in NMHC's leadership."
Ron Zuzack is a risk taker. Let's just be clear about that point up front. "In the recent past I have spent more of my time in some high-risk activities. I have climbed Mount Rainier, made a ski descent of Mount Shasta (over 14,000 feet) and rock climbed many areas in Yosemite," says Zuzack.
And he has been able to juxtapose the risk-taking activities with a successful professional career, as executive managing director at SSR.
"I believe the No. 1 reason for my professional success is a combination of simple hard work and not giving up when things get difficult. Early in my career I probably spent too much time in work related activities vs. personal endeavors and this no doubt had an impact on my personal life. You only have so much time and it is difficult to create a true balance. As I have progressed in my career, I have become much better at this balancing act which is probably due to more experience, confidence in my abilities and the ability to manage people more effectively.
Getting into the apartment business was a natural evolution in his career, says Zuzack. "I have been in the real estate field as a lender, developer and a pension fund investment manager. SSR and our previous company, Metric Realty, was at the forefront of multifamily investment for pension funds. As the real estate markets started to evolve in the early-'90s, it became apparent to us that the multi-family sector possessed many characteristics that were particularly attractive to the pension fund community. Apartments are certainly less capital intensive than other real estate and classes and have had historically higher returns with less volatility."
Zuzack's business acumen is simple - pull the trigger on decision making.
"From a skill standpoint I believe that decisiveness is critically important to any business. You simply need to have the ability to make a decision and move on. You will not always make the right choice and there is no point in agonizing over past decisions. You need to face up to the situation, admit your mistake and learn from it," says Zuzack.
Facing the many changes that are destined to shape the industry are among Zuzack's challenges. "Technology forces us to rethink how we conduct our business and to be more aware of what is happening. When I started my business career, we didn't have fax machines, Federal Express, e-mail, PCs or the Internet. The response time truly is almost instantaneous and that definitely changes how we do business."
Like his brethren, Zuzack derives personal satisfaction from the unique character of the multifamily industry. "I like multifamily and my job in particular for the ability it gives me to create something entrepreneurial and at the same time promote housing, which is such a basic need. It gives me a great deal of satisfaction to look back at the conclusion of a successful project and know that I was a part of it and actually contributed to its success.
As chairman of NMHC's property management committee, Zuzack has a vested interest in the industry's success. "Our firm got involved in NMHC in the very early stages of its development. The multifamily industry really did not have a cohesive voice, especially in the political arena. And it was our belief that multifamily, or housing for that matter, was a dominate factor in our economy and should have a forum to share concerns, ideas and generally promote our business."