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Mastering Multifamily Maintenance with Joshua Patrick

RELEASED ON 6/1/24

Come hear Joshua Patrick, Regional Maintenance Director at CWS Apartment Homes, shares his journey managing multiple properties. Gain valuable insights in adaptability, preventative maintenance, and the role of technology in modern property management.

[Intro Voiceover] (0:01 - 0:20) Welcome to Multifamily X podcast series, Masters of Multifamily Maintenance Conversations. Ready to engage in essential dialogues exploring the multifamily universe alongside top industry leaders? Join us as we explore fundamental conversations for the multifamily space.

Let's dive in.

[Adrian Danila] (0:20 - 0:57) Hello everybody and welcome to another episode of Multifamily X podcast, Masters of Maintenance. I want to thank our sponsors from Kairos, Water and Airport for making this broadcast possible. First, please make sure to check them out.

They're very valuable partners for our industry. Our guest today is Joshua Patrick. Welcome to the show, Joshua.

Thank you. Thank you. Glad to be here.

Joshua is a regional maintenance director with CWS Apartment Homes. Joshua, my first question for you is, please walk us through your journey in multifamily. How did it start and how did it evolve?

[Joshua Patrick] (0:57 - 19:23) It kind of started accidentally, more or less to say. So, I was about 19 years old. Prior to that, I was actually working at a welding shop.

And we had just signed a lease for this townhome. Unfortunately, life had happened during that time. The welding shop, fabricating shop that we were working for ended up kind of declining in business.

So, of course, we started letting people go. And it was kind of a weird circumstance for me. My wife and I just had our daughter.

Our daughter was less than a year old. We had just signed this lease for this apartment complex, student housing out there in Huntsville. They had a hiring sign outside that they were hiring.

Prior to that, my father had done HVAC installation work. And during his kid, he would grow. In the summer times, we would go help him do the rough ins, run the deck work and stuff.

So, I assumed I had some pretty general knowledge on what it was going to be. I applied and got it. The main thing, though, is they started me off as a maintenance technician.

This was a property that was actually two properties combined into one. So, one was over there on the other side of the street, kind of like a phase two, but wasn't really. It was across the other side of the street, but they all ran out of the same office.

But the main thing was I started off as a maintenance technician. There was a groundskeeper position before that. I guess I kind of didn't really understand at the time what it entailed.

I would probably say the first day when they were handing me work tickets, it was, needless to say, I found out real quick that I needed a lot of learning to do. They found out real quick that I needed a lot of learning to do. So, by the grace of that company, and they were a pretty small company, by the grace of that company, they ended up saying, well, look, you don't have the skill set that we kind of need right now, but what we'd like to do is give you a groundskeeper position or a porter position at the time.

Of course, it came with lower pay, but I went ahead and I had taken it just because at that point in time, it was like, hey, I need to make a living. I just signed. I got this rent to pay.

Of course, that's back in the days when you had significant rent discounts if you were an employee. I stuck with it. I worked with them for about two years.

I went from porter to cross-training make ready technician and running service tickets here and there with that company. That's when I got my EPA certification. Once I worked with them again, I was still young, very confident young man at the time.

And I remember there was literally right across the street, another one across the street, there was this small community. I think it was probably about 120 units and they were looking for a maintenance supervisor. And again, I applied for it and I had gotten it.

The first part of the job is where I really learned. When I look back at it, I definitely wasn't ready to be a maintenance supervisor. But again, I was young, I was eager and full of confidence.

I took the job and it was a solo man job. It was only myself there. So that would put me in.

This was a company that everything was done in-house. I know that we go nowadays when we contract out a lot of things in the maintenance field now. But when we're working for some of these smaller companies that may not have the budget of these larger companies and in the timeframe, then everything was done in-house.

So I was having to resurface my own countertops, resurface my cabinets, cleaning your own carpet. So all the fun stuff. But I would definitely say that this job here was learning a lot of trial and error.

When you're the only one there and you figure out that, hey, I don't know what's wrong with this refrigerator, so I'm going to replace it. It only takes a couple of times to bring up a refrigerator three flights of stairs by yourself before you're figuring out, hey, you know what? Maybe I should learn how to do this.

So it was a lot of trial and error. And I think this is even before the time that you could just hop on YouTube and figure this out. So I remember a week later, I went to the local library and picked up as many books as I could on appliance repair, HVAC, and everything that can help me get an edge.

And it was kind of like, hey, I was learning as I was doing this. Needless to say, it was extremely difficult. You didn't have that somebody you could just call and say, hey, I need help with this.

I'm not understanding this. Can you send somebody over here? It was kind of on you.

Now, I was with them for a while. I think it was student housing as well. So I remember going through term season on that.

And again, that was by yourself as well. So you would talk about 120 of those units. I'd say about 85 of them became vacant.

And you had that month to turn them all by yourself. So you were pulling 14, 15-hour days as much as you could. I wanted to kind of get out of multifamily at the time.

And I ended up taking on this other property that was strictly a Section 8 property. I believe it was built in 1962. You're still young.

You're still naive. So I figured, okay, well, this is a smaller community. It's 62 units.

I can do this. But anybody who's done this for a long time, you get a property built in 1962, you're going to run into some problems that you probably have never seen before. So I just remember my first day on call, the main water line in the parking lot blew.

Once we had gotten that fixed, it was literally maybe a day later, main valve feeding the building. That blew apart. I was getting calls.

I remember every night, main sewer lines clogged up. The whole building was backing up. So you're driving out there at 1 a.m., pulling a sewer machine out, trying to figure out, get this thing unclogged. All the condensing units were on the roof. So there was no real access to the roof. So you brought out your 40-foot extension ladder, crawled all the way up there, kind of took the rope and stuff and pulled it all the way up to the top to whatever you had to do at the time.

I was fortunate enough, though, that if we did have to replace a condensing unit, of course, they would get a crane for you. That was nice. Once there for a little bit, I accepted another job.

So we're still out there towards the university in Texas over there, not UT, but I think it was Sam Houston State. And I took a job at another place, and this one was actually a little bit different. This was a bunch of kind of manufactured homes.

I guess the developer or the owner had built this neighborhood in a way, that you could say. And it was just all in a big circle. These were four-bedroom, four-bathroom manufactured homes.

Each home had its own backyard. Nice little community. And again, we're back into student housing again.

But again, I was the only one on call 24-7. Lived on property, but you did everything in-house again. Fencing fell down, you're rebuilding the fence.

Shingles blew off, you're putting on shingles. It was challenging, but I really enjoyed it. By this time, after working the property that I came before that from 1960, built 1960 and prior to that, the one that I mentioned earlier that I started when I left my first time, my first maintenance job, I think at this time, we fast-forward a couple of years or a few years.

And at this point, this is where I started seeing my knowledge evolve to where I was, things weren't really catching me off guard. I have dealt with this. This problem came in.

I've dealt with this before. I have encountered most of these problems. I believe it was about that time that I came to realization that, hey, I'm pretty mechanically inclined.

I'm pretty good at this. Once I started understanding how these components worked, how electricity worked, how plumbing worked, how these appliances worked, I can definitely say at this point, this is where I started feeling that turn of the page where I wasn't nervous when a work order came in. And again, I don't know if a lot of people have experienced that in the past, but there was a point in my career, especially when I was a maintenance supervisor myself, as a work order would come in, my biggest fear was, am I going to know how to do this?

Am I going to look competent that I'm going to be able to fix this? There at that property, my confidence level grew. I was on call 24-7 there, but I remember they did hire somebody kind of a part-time, I think it was a student who was kind of in a construction major.

So I did have a little bit of help, I believe, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Friday, if I'm not mistaken. It was at this point that I was realizing, hey, I was training this guy. I was learning how to train him.

Good just to have that extra hand, but being able to have enough knowledge now that I can pass it down to somebody else, whether they chose to go in this field or not. I felt like, hey, this is some basic life skills. When you buy your own home, you learn how to fix this stuff.

After that, my wife and I, we decided that we wanted to kind of move to a bigger city. So we ended up moving towards Fort Worth, Texas. And at this time, hiring was...

Coming from a smaller town, more or less your hiring process was a little bit easier. You go in there, it's more or less, hey, you're hired, here's a handshake, sign your paperwork, we're good to go. Here we are in a bigger city, things are done a little bit more differently.

You're working for bigger companies, more structured companies that have more practices on the hiring process and stuff. So this stuff was all new to me. I'm pretty sure you remember this.

It was temp to hire. You get on with this company, they would try you out, and you got 90 days to prove yourself, but you're working for the temping company. And on top of that, the competition for like a maintenance supervisor thing was a lot more fierce.

Here I am coming in with three and a half, four years experience trying to go for these nice new properties. And I'm having guys that are competing with me with 10, 15, 20 years experience, great resume. So at this point, I ended up having to kind of take a step back and accept an assistant maintenance director position at that time.

And it was just really to kind of get my foot in the door with some of these class A properties and kind of get the hang of things with these companies. They have more protocols, more structures. I mean, this was the first time I've worked for a company that your first couple of days was sitting behind a computer and training.

I think once I had worked with them, an opportunity came up within the same company towards Dallas that was a maintenance supervisor position. And I remember asking the regional, I'd be interested in taking that position. As powers that be, they decided to let me take that position.

And I would definitely say that was a very challenging property. Now I had a crew of myself and two others. So it wasn't back when I was in a smaller town that I was having to take calls 24-7.

So we did have a rotation and we had a make ready. I had an assistant. The reason why this property I felt like was extremely challenging was this one is where I really got really well at sheetrock.

Settling over there was just, I remember that property, it would rain. And anytime it would rain, probably about 30, 40 work orders would come in right after the rains. Hey, all of a sudden I've got these cracks going through my walls and stuff.

And sure enough, you go out there, doors aren't closing. They have shifted a little bit. And the best way is you can think of this property was built just on one retaining wall after another.

So hypothetically, here's building one, building two is right below it, building three, a lot of shifting. And that was a very, very difficult property. HVAC was a lot older.

So we were constantly having to deal with leaking condensing coils, leaking coils, burr downs getting replaced, or even duct work is at this point needs to be cleaned out or has to be replaced completely. So we gained a lot of experience. I guess the point that I'm really trying to make here is each property had led me up to, each property has its own different problems that maybe you've not experienced, so really learned as each property had its own issues that I was trying to figure out.

Again, it was another learning curve at this property. I had never dealt with this type of settlement before. We've all dealt with minor cracks here and there that you fill in.

These were pretty significant. All that work was done in-house. We stayed there for a little bit.

Originally, as a child, I had grown up between the Houston area and Austin. I'd say most of my teenage years, I lived in Austin. So after we were out there for a little bit, my wife and I talked and said, hey, I'd really like to get us back towards Austin.

And for some whatever reason, I think just the job market thing was a little bit harder. So I ended up taking a job in San Marcos. And it really was a blessing in disguise because I was a little disappointed that I was so close to Austin, but I'm still 30, 40 miles away or 30, 40 minutes away.

I started off with the student housing. You see the repetition here. This one, again, we had a crew there.

These were just set up like townhomes over there, feet on the ground running. Nothing was really, like I would say, at this point, by the time I had made it to this property, I would definitely say that there hadn't been much I hadn't seen. I can confidently say at that point, I've seen everything that you could possibly see.

And got up in the morning, first thing we did every day was valet trash, go by with a golf cart, pick up the trash, load the trailer, take it to the compactor. And then at that point, I have my other guy community pool. Even that area, because of course you're in student housing, the pool every day was wrecked.

This one, I can confidently say that I came in there with a lot more experience, a lot more of a game plan. And this is kind of where I started not only learning to be reactive, but more proactive. And this is where, you know, implementing preventative maintenance in the make ready.

It's like, hey, I understand this is what we're doing in our make ready. But while you're in there, go ahead and clean that coral real quick. Throw some slime tabs in the drain pan, blow it out.

Go check the refrigerant levels real quick. Make sure that we're good to go. Since you're out there, go ahead and clean that condensing core.

Taking all these steps, because when I first walked in that property, it was, you get easily 25, 30 work orders daily. You know, after doing a lot of these steps, you know, I started seeing because these preventative maintenance just starting to gradually decline. It wasn't as many calls, you know, during the summer.

It wasn't as many HVAC calls or just based off what we were doing in the make ready as we were turning. That's really was a good thing. And it kind of opened my eyes.

Okay, well, this is a strategy, you know, I need to start implementing and making sure, trying to figure out how can I run this property without being as stressed out as I was, you know, when I was younger. And it also gave me the chance to work with a great group of people underneath me, learning to train, but not only learning how to train, but also learning how to teach people that need to learn in different ways. For me, it wasn't really that much of a challenge as I was good at being able to read people and understand and a little bit more empathetic.

You know, it would just come time as one person, I can just show them how to do it. And then they were good to go. But as another person, he, you know, I have to figure out how does this guy learn?

Is he hands on? Does he take notes? And that's where I have to sit down with the guys, start learning them.

This is also kind of where I started adapting into my leadership skills and how I was going to be as a leader. After that, I was still with the same company. They transitioned me into another property.

Let me back up a little bit. Transitioned me into this other property that wasn't technically a student housing, but it was so close to the college anyways, that we still had a mixed variety. This was more of a class A property and kind of went in there with the same approach.

Did very well at that property to the point where there was times where the assistant and I were just kind of sitting there just like, all right, man, well, we work orders are good. There's nothing in right now. Make ready's are 100% caught up.

So let's grab the power washer. Let's start blowing breezeways. Let's start doing projects that we can do in the downtime.

And eventually the company said, well, you know, you're doing well. We would like you to go ahead and run property A and property B as well. So this is kind of where I started dipping in my toes into this multi-site thing.

Did pretty well at that. I think the biggest challenge with the multi-site thing was trying to go between both properties. And I would say that the staff was experienced, but not experienced enough to where you could confidently say, okay, they've got this.

I can, I can leave. So, you know, I learned real quick how to delegate my time, how to figure out and just plan it out and say, okay, they're going to need me here. I'm going to need to go over here, but also leave enough room in case an emergency pops up.

I can hop in and go to the next property. Later on, an opportunity arised at another company. And this company was a lot larger, but they specialized in tax credit, income restricted properties.

So now we're coming into, you know, REAC inspection, which is now transitioning into the Aspire program. This was my first official regional position. Kind of went in there with the same game plan as when I was on multi-site.

And the only thing I really had to learn, and this is where I got a lot of training is REAC. You know, a lot of REAC since I was, that was my main thing was property, being able to help the team members on property by training. Also, as well as evaluating the property, kind of giving them, hey, this is what we need to work on.

This is what we need to focus, but was also constantly inspecting properties for any deficiencies that REAC could catch. After staying with them for a while, I ended up kind of getting a promotion to where it was a more of a nationwide gig. So, you know, I think they had, I can't, I'm trying to remember.

I think it was like 115 to 125 properties nationwide that were all tax or income restricted properties. So at this point, this is where you got to go travel and help these other properties out. Kind of the same thing I was doing here in Austin, but now at a larger scale.

And there was a team of us, so it wasn't just 100% me always rolling, but definitely got to see some different parts of the country and stuff. And work with different great groups of people and get to know people. And this is where I started really actually enjoying this, you know, is just getting to know everybody, being able to be that answer to help.

I understood 100%, you know, what I would have a maintenance supervisor call me frustrated. I don't know what to do because it would take me back to when I first became a maintenance supervisor. I've been in your shoes.

I know exactly what that feels like. Luckily, you have somebody to call to be able to help you figure this out. I love doing it.

So fast forward to that, I ended up finding an opening with CWS. I've seen a lot of their properties. I loved a lot of their properties.

And they had an open position for an Austin regional. And I remember submitting in my resume. And it was kind of when I submitted, it was kind of one of those things like, well, if I get it, I get it.

If I don't, I don't. And I'm so happy where I'm at. Definitely would love to work for the company.

And sure enough, gave me a call, you know, three or four, you know, three interviews later, ended up getting hired.

[Intro Voiceover] (19:23 - 19:25) And this is here.

[Dean Fung A Wing] (19:30 - 20:33) We combine a wide area network on the property. That's very, very light infrastructure, incredibly easy to install. We're not talking about putting base stations and network equipment in every apartment.

We're talking maybe five to seven base stations across the community. I can blanket the community with coverage, wireless coverage. And that wireless coverage is then used to take all of that sensor data, whether it's heat sensors, water meters, occupancy sensor, whatever kind of sensor you want, temperature, humidity sensor.

And those sensors are then going to those base stations and transferring all that data to the software layers and services. And from that software dashboard, the notification engines will kick in to then notify the site team. Again, nobody really wants to use another piece of software, right?

Like you guys got plenty of software to do. And last time I checked, like no one wants to sit there and stare at a fire alarm waiting for it to go off. Our technology is incredibly unsexy in that regards.

You don't want to stare at an app waiting for it to go off. But when it does go off, this is mission critical stuff.

[Adrian Danila] (20:34 - 21:12) I love the fact that you just kind of walked us through all of your journey, right? In property management, because I want for others to look, to watch and to listen to your journey and see what's possible. With persistence, with showing up every day, putting in your time, don't give up.

The first question, the next question I have for you is what helped you scale from one property to like two properties and to like several properties and to like 100 plus properties? What are some things that helped you get to that number to be able to oversee, to manage that number of apartment homes? One is just experience for one.

[Joshua Patrick] (21:12 - 22:37) But for somebody who's wanting to move up and get into that thing is like, well, I've got to know everything about everything, technical skills. And I hate to break it to you, but that's never going to happen. You know, with everything evolving and everything changing, you're still going to be learning day after day.

The biggest thing that helps scaling is looking over. Let's say, for example, I've got somebody in the company that I would watch and learn from. I would read them, you know, let's say another area manager or district manager or regional manager, and I would watch how do they do this?

You know, what tactics are they putting into play? How are they managing their time? And it wasn't, you know, me necessarily being nosy, but trying to learn and inform myself and just trying to watch their habits and try to apply it to me.

But the other thing is, is just being confidence plays a big key as well. And confidence in your decision making, confidence in your leadership, not being scared to take a risk. You know, sometimes that risk may pan out.

And unfortunately, sometimes it doesn't. So, you know, you've got to figure out how to clean up your mess. But don't be scared to sometimes step outside of the box.

And it may work for you to be able to scale. It was definitely each step was a learning curve. As you got more properties, as you got more responsibilities, it was definitely something that you had to learn.

But again, you know, go back to those three, you know, learning how to be a leadership, learning how to delegate your time and just being confident.

[Adrian Danila] (22:37 - 22:44) What drives you? What gets you excited? What gets you out of bed?

What gets you, you know, ready for whatever the day brings at you?

[Joshua Patrick] (22:44 - 23:17) You know, the day, what it brings at you that the excitement is I never know. I don't know what it's going to be. Let's say I can have my whole calendar booked for that day.

But something may come up that I have to say, OK, I'm going to push all that to the side and I've got to focus on this instead. Just the fast pace, the changing daily. It definitely isn't boring.

Constantly keeps you on your toes and constantly keeps you moving. And I think that's kind of what excites me is what's going to happen today or what am I going to learn today or, you know, who am I going to meet today? So that's that's definitely an exciting thing that gets anybody moving.

[Adrian Danila] (23:17 - 23:29) Let's talk a little bit about your current position with CWS. What type of geographical area do you cover? How many properties and how many apartment homes?

Totally.

[Joshua Patrick] (23:29 - 24:17) I stick to mainly Austin here in 20. As of right now, I mean, we have 20 properties because we just built another one. So that's part of my portfolio.

So under me, I have 20 properties in total. Unit count, not 100% sure on my unit count. I just do it by properties at this point.

Now I cover all of the Austin region. Now, if anybody's not familiar with our geography, my portfolio stops right at the river. We have a river that runs through downtown Austin.

Anything past the river goes on to my counterpart who oversees South Austin, San Antonio. Luckily for me, though, portfolio wise, most of my properties are only 15 minutes apart from each other. So I'm not having to drive from here all the way to a different city to go visit this property.

So I am fortunate in that regards. But, you know, sheer size of the portfolio definitely keeps you busy.

[Adrian Danila] (24:17 - 24:25) Is there a support team that helps you oversee those 20 properties or is it just you? Support wise, I've always got support.

[Joshua Patrick] (24:25 - 25:23) My direct supervisor, who is extremely knowledgeable, I give so much respect to. If it ever comes down to a point where, you know, hey, I'm dealing with this at the moment. I have, you know, but this property needs XYZ.

You know, he's quick to come down here and step in and be able to help me oversee that. Or, unfortunately, if he's traveling, you know, clear across the country, then again, my counterpart, who is pretty much like my next door neighbor portfolio wise is if he has some downtime, he's more than happy to come in and say, hey, I'll come over there and I'll walk this property or do this for you. It's kind of a vice versa thing.

The team support here is absolutely amazing. You know, I work with an amazing group of guys who are very knowledgeable as well. To answer your question, yes, I do have that support.

If things get a little overwhelming, I want to say 95% of the times I'm able to manage, you know, with what's coming in. There are those times in the summer or a busy season that things do stack up and I'm unfortunately not able to be at property XYZ all at once.

[Adrian Danila] (25:23 - 25:31) Are you focusing more operations, capital projects? It's a little bit of both. What's the mix out there?

Kind of a mix a little bit.

[Joshua Patrick] (25:31 - 27:49) We do have a capital projects team. We kind of work hand in hand with each other. So there is times that I have to do my part in order for their part to get completed.

Let's say like a flood, for example, or somebody finds, you know, growth inside of an apartment. You know, this is the point where I'm coming in to get the remediation done, to get the demo done. Of course, OK, capital projects.

Here you go. Here's for the build back, everything for the build back. So we kind of work hand in hand.

Now, CWS is a little bit different on the regional role. We do help with the property support. HVAC, a lot of that stuff's got to go through me, especially if it's going to, hey, we need to replace all these units and stuff.

We need to verify, make sure proper steps were taken before we do that. But our biggest number one thing is fire life safety and major mechanical. We oversee all the annual fire inspections, making sure that we're within compliance.

All the reports go to me. I go through all the reports and then distribute them out with any deficiencies. Ensure all five year inspections are completed on the fire systems, as well as any three year inspections and well testings.

CWS is really big into ensuring that we are properly safe. We are in compliance with our HJA, our authority having jurisdiction. And then also our major mechanicals, which includes our domestic booster pumps and our mid rises, as well as our sewer and storm lift stations.

You know, oversee, put the preventative maintenance on those. Or I think on ours, I have them actually currently set up on remote monitoring. So if floats start raising on those lift stations, I get a text message on my phone letting me know, like, hey, alarm float has raised.

Pump's not working. Roughly about every month or so, I get quarterly, not quarterly, I'm sorry, but health reports from the remote monitoring so I can monitor the amperage, see when the amperage rises. And so as well as elevators, you know, most of the time we let our properties be able to handle the, you know, miscellaneous things, the elevators.

But if it comes to a bigger issue, then, of course, our support comes in to be able to help get to the bottom of it. It is a little different because, again, we're doing the fire life safety as our number one. We do property support and HVAC.

So, and as well as, you know, if somebody's going to try to contract something out, I want them to, you know, give me a call first and make sure that, you know, we've done everything we can with the tools that we have before we go ahead and say, okay, we need to call in, you know, a plumber to do this for us.

[Adrian Danila] (27:49 - 28:02) Let's talk about challenges. What are the main challenges that you see for us as an industry that we're facing and how do we or how should we overcome the challenges? Multi-family has changed so much.

[Joshua Patrick] (28:02 - 30:39) And, again, from when I started out, and I don't know if the other people out there have experienced the same thing, but multi-family in regards has definitely changed. You know, they have definitely focused more on safety, you know, of maintenance and safety and multi-family as well as just trying to create a culture. That is definitely a big change because as I'm starting to see the dynamic shift in this field, there's, you know, a lot more companies that, you know, are trying to do more of a culture feel to their company, more of a family feel to the company.

As you know, back then, I didn't see that as much. It was more or less, hey, let's just clock in, do your job, do it well, clock out, we're good to go. So, I'm starting to see that shift in a lot of these management companies to where it's, we really want our employees to enjoy working with us.

And I get it. If you enjoy where you're working, you're going to retain, you know, you're not going to have such a revolving door where somebody is trying to go out and find something that either they're happier or they'll make a dollar or two more. The challenges that I kind of see in this field is as multi-families going through this weird transition, this gray area, the generation coming up that's coming into this working field is we're definitely getting that shortage of, you know, especially in the maintenance field is just trying to find technicians who want to start out, who want to be able to get in this field and want to be able to learn something.

And I think that's definitely becoming this challenge now is just that job market isn't, you know, what it was to where, you know, people were just wanting to get in there and start learning as we're dealing with more of a different set of people that are coming in for whatever reason. And it's just, they're not looking at multi-families like, oh, this, this is a, you know, this is a job I can do, you know, which is what we'll do is we'll, we'll go to tech schools and stuff like that and try to, you know, talk to these people, let them know it's like, hey, you know, I know this is what you're training. We do, you know, let's say HVAC.

You're going to do plenty of HVAC in our field, so you don't have to worry about that, but you're also going to learn, you know, XYZ as well. That's kind of becoming just a challenge, trying to keep everybody motivated as well. There's so many other companies in this field that it's to the point where, you know, somebody's like, hey, I'm, you know, I was, I'm with y'all.

They're offering me, you know, however much more, a little bit more and yada, yada, yada. I'm going to go to them real quick. There's a lot of people haven't figured out the grass isn't always greener on the other side.

Trial and error. That's what it is right there. I think that's kind of a, something that we're kind of navigating through right now.

[Adrian Danila] (30:39 - 30:45) How about the opportunities, Joshua? What type of opportunities do you foresee for us as an industry company?

[Joshua Patrick] (30:46 - 32:18) Definitely. Facilities wise, it has definitely grown. You know, the opportunities here is, let's say if I'm, if I'm coming to you as somebody who's never been in multifamily, the opportunity here is you're learning a trade.

You're learning multiple trades. You know, you're learning HVAC. You're learning, you know, plumbing.

You're learning electrical. You're learning appliances. You're learning pools.

And that within itself, to my opinion, is an opportunity because even if you decide not that, you know, you're not the same multifamily, you still have a base set of skills that you can take elsewhere with you. Now that facilities has grown into what it has in, it's like, look, you know, I get it when I talk to, you know, when I was younger and I would talk to some of my friends who were also in trades, you'd always hear the same thing. You know, it's like, I don't always want to be in the field the rest of my life.

I don't want to constantly, you know, do labor the rest of my life. And the good thing is working in multifamily. And as you progress and as you learn, and as you hone in on your skills of not just your technical skills, but your leadership skills as well, you get to move up in the ranks to eventually to you get to more of a corporate level position.

Yes, you're still, you know, you're still out in the field, but not necessarily as much as you were, where you were just stuck, you know, where you're just at one property the entire time. Definitely. And then just the opportunity, you know, can keep to keep growing within the company.

I mean, there's many companies to where you have regionals, you have, you know, vice presidents of, you know, facilities and stuff. So definitely there is now a structure, especially in our department alone, that helps you be able to climb that ladder.

[Intro Voiceover] (32:18 - 32:22) And now a word from Sean Landsberg, co-founder and CEO, Appwork.

[Adrian Danila] (32:23 - 32:34) What you can measure, you can improve. You did mention an average completion time or tracking completion time for maintenance technicians. What other very important KPIs is Appwork capable of tracking?

[Sean Landsberg] (32:34 - 33:12) All the data can also be broken down. All those KPIs can be broken down, like we said, on a property level, technician level, or back up to a portfolio level. But even within a technician, you could break that down based off of the categories.

You can see, you know, how is this technician doing with HVAC work orders, with pump work orders. We also took the concept of KPIs. A lot of companies use a KPI to say, you know, well, how is somebody doing?

Let's look at his KPIs. But another thing that we actually did is we took that a step further where we actually translated those KPIs into sentence-based comment. You know, the system will actually automatically spit out, you know, an actual actionable sentence, whether it's positive or negative, based on the technician's performance.

[Adrian Danila] (33:15 - 33:32) Joshua, let's talk about our technology now. How do you see the technology landscaping? How does it affect or influence?

How does it influence our trade, right, the facilities trade? And what are some things that, you know, you see happening on a technology? Definitely seeing the evolution, for sure.

[Joshua Patrick] (33:32 - 35:35) You know, when I started out, it was still carbon copy papers. And, you know, you still had a little check out your key, write it down. And, you know, it wasn't very technology driven.

And then we'll fast forward into now. You can get work orders on your phone. You can complete work orders out on your phone.

You have apps that help you manage your, you know, when I was on properties and working on them, you had a basic make ready board on the back of your wall that you would X out as things would get completed or put in the dates. Now, even the make ready boards are, you know, all digital. I can definitely see that now.

The organization, you know, just organization on a property level is tremendously better. And then as well as transparency with this introduction of all this technology, it really helps transparency within company wide. If I want to look at property X, Y, Z, see where we're at on make readies, you know, we can now do this from, you know, my phone or my computer versus, you know, I've got to drive out to out here to see where we're at and everything and get the counts.

And technology has been just kind of a blessing in this field. It's able to help keep things more organized, helping to optimize workflow and just being able to have full transparency. If, you know, we're starting to see a decline in this and we're able to be, you know, react to that and be able to put some structure in place in order to boost that back up.

It has been just a wild ride, but definitely it's a lot more training. I know that as each technology software rolls out that it is a lot on the property just to have to go through the training. I know that recently we had just shifted from one software to another software company wide and definitely there was growing.

This is what we call it, you know, especially for some people who's worked for the company for 20 plus years, you know, it's used to one way. And then here we go into that. So if anything for the technology, I mean, I can say that 98% of it is positive.

The only 2% that's hard is definitely just being able to acclimate to the new software, to the new programs. And it's been tremendous and great.

[Adrian Danila] (35:36 - 35:56) How about centralization? There was a lot of chatting about centralization in the industry and specific to maintenance as well. What are your thoughts on centralization?

Is it just a buzzword? Is it just like something that comes and goes like, you know, the word of the day or is there meaning to it? You know, or is there a, you know, somewhere in between the two extremes?

[Joshua Patrick] (35:56 - 37:37) I think that wouldn't, that would not be a great thing at all. I mean, that really, the best thing about like when you're, let's say if we're putting on a property scale, let's say they want centralized properties to work out of one location or just be ran by one location. That really kind of takes that personable feel out of the equation.

And it just kind of, you know, I get that understanding that it's like, Hey, this can be structured. This is a better structure. But again, at the end of the day is, you know, each property runs different, you know, within, you know, within protocols of the company.

But, you know, each manager may run this differently. And it's, you know, it just at the end of the day, to me, it just takes out of that personal personalization with each property. You know, and I believe that it also just kind of, kind of takes a step back a little bit to letting people, you know, flourish, you know, let them make their ideas, let them go with their ideas.

And if it works on their property, fantastic. You know, we can elevate this. It doesn't sound like I would be too much of a fan of it.

And again, you know, just being able to let these properties do their thing. And if we're talking to multifamily as a whole, let's say, like, one, one group runs this whole multifamily department. Again, you know, we're kind of back to that, you know, that thing where would that affect culture?

At this point, each company has its own culture, and you may be fit for this culture versus this company's culture. That would kind of eliminate that at that point. It would be, well, this is the culture because this is who's running it and who says that this is how we have to do it.

And at that point, it wouldn't matter where you went at that point. Then it would just be, you know, you're right back to square one again. In my opinion, yeah, it wouldn't sound like the best idea.

[Adrian Danila] (37:38 - 37:44) Joshua, what advice would you have for someone that considers a career in multifamily maintenance? Take challenges.

[Joshua Patrick] (37:45 - 39:22) Definitely don't go, if you're starting out and you want to learn the most, don't go for the easiest property because it's easy. Start with an older property. Start with a property with this hiccup.

Start with a property that has the issues. And I know that it is difficult in the beginning. It's intimidating in the beginning.

But you're going to learn fast. You know, if I were to take you to a newly built property still under warranty, you're not going to learn as much as if I were to put you at a property that they have a lot of plumbing issues here. They have a lot of HVAC issues here.

You want to learn, you know, you're going to get your feet wet. You're going to get your boots muddy real quick. Definitely take those challenges.

Don't be scared of those challenges. And for the ones that have been there, always be open-minded, listen, and don't take criticism as a bad thing. Listen to what you're being told.

And there's a reason that it's being told. So listen to it. And if you find out, hey, I can do it this way, but in an easier way, fantastic.

Make sure you're listening to what you're being told and just the criticism. And that's the biggest thing is a lot of people get criticism. And they think that this guy's, you know, this guy don't like me or this person's mad at me.

It's like, no, no, no, it's not that at all. It's we're wanting to see you grow. We know that you're new in this field.

We know this. Here's what you should work on. And here's where I see that your strengths are.

But here's the weaknesses that you should probably work on and invest a little bit more time into this. Anybody starting out, go for the challenges. It's going to be rough for the first couple of years, especially on challenging property.

But I promise you, once you get the hang of things, you start knowing, you start learning. That scared feeling goes away. That nervousness goes away.

[Adrian Danila] (39:23 - 39:32) And that confidence level grows. Joshua, who is the one person that had the most positive influence over you throughout your life, throughout your career?

[Joshua Patrick] (39:33 - 40:08) I can't pinpoint a single person, like a single person as in basically what I did is each person that I have worked under, I have taken an aspect of their knowledge or their leadership skills and basically evaluated that person. OK, here's something that I'm probably not going to do, but here's something that I greatly respect they do. And I take that and apply it to myself.

So I can't really say just one person as it has been collectively. The people I've worked with over the years that I've taken a piece of each one of them with me and applied it to my own leadership.

[Adrian Danila] (40:08 - 40:15) We're only around for a limited period of time. Some will argue a short period of time. How would you like to be remembered?

[Joshua Patrick] (40:16 - 41:22) Definitely as a great leader, as somebody that can, that people can feel comfortable enough to be able to talk to and not just talk to on as, you know, professionals, business to business. Somebody that can be understanding that somebody can come to and just be able to be themselves 100 percent. Tell me that they don't know something.

Just be remembered, you know, as in I tried whatever I could to pass down any of the knowledge that I have. But also I was very open minded to to understanding that, you know, somebody may be better at something than I am. And being able to take their advice, even if it's somebody that's, you know, let's say I've got maintenance directors underneath me that's been in this field a lot longer than I am.

I listen to them. I want people to claim that I don't know it all. And I'm always open to suggestions.

I'm always open to listening. I may be wrong and I'm always able to learn from somebody else. So I think it just be to be remembered as somebody who was more of a people person who was a great leader, but also was able to listen, receive my feedback, as well as be able to direct people in their career path and which way they want to go.

[Adrian Danila] (41:22 - 41:36) Joshua Patrick, it was a pleasure to have you on today, sir. Thank you very much for taking an hour out of your busy day to be here with me, with the audience. I hope to continue this conversation at a later time.

Any final thoughts?

[Joshua Patrick] (41:36 - 41:55) It's more or less for the people getting into this, who's watching this and getting into this, you know, again, circle back, just keep trying. Don't lose faith. Keep pushing through it.

I've gone through it all. And, you know, I can tell you in the end, it pays off. Multifamily is a great place to be.

I've enjoyed my time in multifamily. And again, I want to thank you for having me on.

[Adrian Danila] (41:55 - 42:17) I look forward to doing this again, possibly. Thank you again for being here. Thank you, everybody, for watching or listening to us.

This episode, we hope to get you back here soon. I want to thank our sponsors from Cairo Squatter and Epworth for making this broadcast possible. I'm Adrian Danila, your host.

This is Multifamily X Podcast Masters of Mainers. Have an amazing day. Take care.