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Navigating Multifamily Maintenance Operations


Navigating the Labor Shortage
Attracting and Retaining Talent
Navigating Career Growth
Leveraging LinkedIn

Despite the ongoing challenges posed by labor shortages and budget constraints, Adrian and his guests are optimistic about the opportunities for growth and advancement within the industry.

[Adrian] (0:22 - 0:48) Hello everybody and welcome to another episode of Multifamily X podcasts, Masters of Maintenance. This podcast is possible thanks to our friends from AppWork. I'm your host Adrian Danila.

Today I have a guest co-host with me. My guest co-host today is Jason Simpson. Welcome to the show Jason. Jason, tell us a little bit about yourself sir. Introduce yourself to the audience here.

[Jason] (0:48 - 1:08) So I'm Jason Simpson. I'm a facilities manager down here in Midland, Texas. We're an oil country.

Been in and out of this industry for about three and a half, four years now and honestly I'm kind of stuck in it. I don't see myself going anywhere else right now. I've turned a job into a career and I'm really happy about it.

It's truly a passion for me.

[Adrian] (1:08 - 1:20) Thank you for co-hosting with me today Jason and now it's time to introduce our guest for today. Our guest today is Mark Peel. Mark is the director of maintenance and construction at PRG Real Estate. Welcome to the show Mark.

[Mark] (1:20 - 1:29) Hey thanks, I appreciate it. I'm glad to be here.

I really like what you're doing with your podcast and yeah, honored to be a guest today.

[Adrian] (1:29 - 1:36) So thanks. Mark, let's start by introducing yourself to the audience. Tell us a little bit about your journey in property management.

[Mark] (1:36 - 2:18) Yeah, when I first started at the time I was living in an apartment complex and befriended the maintenance guys through hanging out and pestering those guys. Was hired as a groundskeeper, transitioned to a maintenance tech and then a supervisor. My father was a tradesman.

He was a tool and die maker and my grandfather was a carpenter. So it was just kind of growing up watching those guys work and it was instilled in me that working on cars, repairing stuff, building stuff. So I was fortunate enough to see those guys as role models and early on in my career and even with my current company working with amazing people, transitioned to several positions and landed where I'm at now.

[Adrian] (2:18 - 2:33) So yeah, it's been good. I want to ask you to give us a little bit of insight on PRG. How large is the company?

How many apartments are being managed out there? Is it owner managed? Is it third parties?

Is it both? And what geographical areas do you cover?

[Mark] (2:34 - 2:56) So we're a company out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We are owner-operated. Our two owning partners started the company back in the 80s.

Currently, we have 45 properties. They're scattered out in Kansas, Kentucky, down in the Florida region, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia areas. It's good to be part of a company that owns and operates.

[Jason] (2:57 - 3:06) It's good. I'm kind of curious about it. Can you tell us a little bit about your journey into the industry and how you became the director of maintenance and construction with PRG?

[Mark] (3:07 - 3:44) Like I mentioned, my dad was working with the Sands around the house. Grandfather was a carpenter. We'll just blame genetics on that, but curiosity.

I was always interested in doing those types of things. If something was broken, I wanted to take it apart and see how to fix it. The position that I'm in now, I've worked for several management companies, some being owner-operated, some being solely strictly managed, a mix of both.

I generally found that in the owner-operated properties or companies, it's a little bit easier for budgetary purposes to maintain your properties. Generally, it tends to be a little easier.

[Adrian] (3:44 - 3:53) How does one become a director of maintenance? Tell us about the journey to becoming a director of maintenance and what were the most important lessons that you learned along the way?

[Mark] (3:54 - 4:40) I've had several positions along the way, both on-site as maintenance supervisor, senior supervisor, regional type positions. With my current position, I was working closely with the then director of asset management. We both have very similar personalities.

I'm grateful that I worked with her in transitioning to this position. Mostly with my position now, I work closely with our regional maintenance directors, try to provide them direct support. Also, directly involved with our asset management team and the oversight of all the capital improvement projects that we have slated around the country.

Projects, I try to do some forecast reporting, but not that great at it, so I'll leave that for better minds, I guess, I would put it.

[Adrian] (4:40 - 4:51) Something that someone looking at you saying, hey, I want to become my mark one day, you know, some takeaways from your journey, extremely valuable for others that are looking up to you. What would those be?

[Mark] (4:51 - 5:30) Well, I started out again as a groundskeeper at the time. I was a young man just entering into the workforce and I think you had a similar journey when you came here to the States. Both of you, actually, I believe from what I read on your profiles, just putting in the hard work, doing what you're supposed to do when you're supposed to do it.

People take value in how you communicate, how you honor your words or promises. Just putting in the hard work is going to get you where you want to be. It took me, you know, I've worked for in this business for a long time and working it now as the director of maintenance is at the top of where I've wanted to be.

[Jason] (5:30 - 5:47) So everything is good. As the director of maintenance construction, can you give me a little bit about your day-to-day, you know, your day-to-day operation, where are some of your primary responsibilities and key objectives? And I'm overlooking this portfolio because it seems like a pretty large portfolio.

I want to get an idea of what you do day-to-day.

[Mark] (5:47 - 7:02) Yeah, we have, my days vary from time to time. Most of my days are spent traveling. I travel around to the different regions, visiting the sites.

I was down in Charlotte this week, also in Greenville, South Carolina. We have projects that are going on, larger projects that I need to, you know, put my eyes on at some time if there's problems that arise or generally we'll get involved in the beginning of those just to make sure that they get off on the right foot. I've found that if we, you know, get contractors set our expectations up front, then we generally have a smoother process.

A lot of times with traveling involves getting backlogged with emails, so I spend a lot of time catching up on those, getting answers to people that have questions, just doing bid packet reviews. Once a property collects bids for different projects throughout the regions, they'll send me the bid packets, which I'll review, compare those to apples to apples. We generate scopes of work that we have in place prior to soliciting bids.

Sometimes those need revisions, but then once those are approved, then I'll issue contracts for whatever work is slated, but generally stay pretty busy, which is a good thing as well.

[Adrian] (7:02 - 7:27) Mark, I want to go into technology right now, technology and maintenance. I want to get your take on the PropTech field. What are some technology solutions that you see out there that, you know, they're working and what's your take in general on technology in regards to maintenance, how does it apply, and also a little bit of AI.

Do you have any opinions on AI being introduced into our workforce, into our environment?

[Mark] (7:28 - 8:52) Things have changed, obviously, since I started my position, and even with both of you guys. Jason, you said you've been four or five years. Adrian, I think you've been 20 years or so here in the States.

Even in the last 10 years, I mean, AI is going to be the next best thing or the next biggest thing. I don't know that it's going to be the best thing, but we see it in some of our even email writing. There's apps where they offer everything.

Verizon is introducing new phones that have AI built in. I think that is going to be the next process, but technology has drastically changed, you know, in my time working in this industry. Back when I started, we had pagers where people would call you and leave messages.

We had PO books that you would have to handwrite the PO and generate the numbers based on whatever they were at the top, but we now have systems that are, you know, operating systems like we generally use. I won't go into any of those details, but there's many different ones. You already have MRI.

There's a bunch of those. We now use maintenance mobile apps. There's HVAC apps that tell you how to charge systems, apps that can monitor your coring and your pools, tools that tell us what's going on with any appliance breakdowns that we may have.

It's amazing to see what's developed and also what's on the horizon. I mean, there's no limits to the imaginations for sure.

[Jason] (8:52 - 9:29) I just want to point out that I find it fascinating, that difference within the last 20 years. I mean, to think how it was before I got into, I mean, writing, imagine writing everything down. I mean, I couldn't even imagine that honestly.

I worked on a fridge the other day that was older than me and that was, I opened it up and I'm like, where's the fan? And just the technology over the last 20 years, it's just, it's fascinating to me. But my next question is, what are some of the common challenges you face in managing maintenance and construction activities and how do you address them?

I mean, it seems like it's a lot to actually manage people who are already used to managing other people.

[Mark] (9:29 - 10:39) Yeah, I think within any organization, as you move up into any organization, you go from managing problems to managing people. And unfortunately, PRG, our tagline is great people doing even greater things together. So we do have such an awesome team in place at all the sites, all the way from the grounds people, all the way up to our executive teams.

So very fortunate in that aspect. But our biggest challenges right now are with the current market, excuse me, and supply chain conditions. During COVID, the supply chains basically shut down from paint.

We couldn't get any paint routinely. Window manufacturing shut down. We had several large projects like that exterior painting, window installations, those types of things were all affected by that.

Supplies are getting more readily accessible, but the pricing, I think, is staying at all time highs, both in labor and materials. I don't think those are going to go back. Being selective, I think, with our procurement partner relationships and monitoring our spends is where we're going to get the best value for a dollar, which is crucial.

[Adrian] (10:39 - 11:33) Mark, I do want to go a little bit on some of the issues that you're describing, just kind of extrapolate current situation, current economical environment. And I'm going to describe something that you might be familiar with too. There are many investors that have purchased real estate with floating rates.

They've been floating up for the last a year, year and a half, two years. And they're having the hardest time right now making payments, making bank payments. So I'm expecting probably sometime this year to see some defaults on the loans.

It's very, very hard for operations to make the numbers work when your payments alone are doubling and tripling. Where do you think that we could make a difference as operators, as maintenance operators? How can we maintenance help investors and owners with this type of environment, with this type of very tight spot that they're in?

What is the opportunity?

[Mark] (11:34 - 13:28) We do purchase some of those properties. We scatter our assets into A, B, C properties, value add. We do see the interest rates affecting people and other companies where they do have those floating rates, like I mentioned.

Historically, if you look back, the pre-COVID interest rates of 3%, 4%, or 5% are historical lows. If you look back at some of the 80s, 90s, we're at 7%, 8%, 9% on homes. Even in the 70s, some were as high as 10%.

So I think with the interest rates where they are, I'm not a proponent personally, these are my own beliefs. I'm not a proponent of getting those floating type mortgages, even on quick flips, because you never know how long it's going to be. I'm talking about homes, not apartment communities.

But I think as far as getting into a property and being able to manage, when we go in to look at a property, we take a team of people and do our due diligence. We forecast what the spends are going to be, what we anticipate those costs to be. With the working in of those numbers into different formulas, we come up with a good plan to make returns to...

We're on our operative for the investor side of companies, and that can be a little more challenging, I suppose, at times. But we make sure that we have the right team in place, doing our due diligence. The maintenance operations are going to be the biggest spends, contracts and maintenance, materials, labor, keeping those down to a minimum as best you can.

I think repair versus replace is going to be your... Sometimes you get into a position where you have to replace something that's in such bad condition. But I think having skilled labor on site and managing your expenses is going to be the best way to handle that.

[Jason] (13:28 - 13:46) I've seen a company around here that they've almost completely eliminated the assistant community manager position. And I've heard talks about other companies want to do this with their maintenance and centralizing it. Do you think that's something that would be beneficial and possible for multifamily maintenance?

And what do you think some of the tasks could be centralized?

[Mark] (13:46 - 15:20) Are you speaking of central... I haven't heard that term. But are you speaking of centralization and having multiple people cover multiple properties and not have people positioned at multiple sites?

Yeah, that's tough. At a smaller 100 unit or less property, then probably that makes sense if there's something close by that they can just handle. It depends on the property, actually.

I've been at some really bad ones and I've been at some really good ones. And sometimes the size of those unit counts doesn't really matter. I'm not a fan of doing that.

I think the property should have the adequate staff to handle the need. I've worked for companies at times that have understaffed properties and I've worked for companies that have overstaffed. Centralization of maintenance can work, but it's going to be specialty type situations.

Maybe on-call rotating with different properties that are close by. If you have five or six guys in a call rotation, you have 400 or 500 units. It cuts down on the on-call need.

It also cuts down on the... People need their private time and be able to do the things that they want to do outside of work. So having more people in a rotation would help that.

But as far as the staffing of the office with the maintenance staff, general rule of thumb I've seen across the industry is one man per 100 units, which is reasonable. And again, it just depends on the certain situation.

[Adrian] (15:20 - 15:42) You mentioned earlier, Mark, having qualified personnel at the site level that will make a difference. One of the challenges that we were facing as an industry, and it's becoming more acute of an issue. We're short on qualified personnel, on personal period, and then qualified individuals.

How do we overcome the staff shortage challenge that we have as an industry?

[Mark] (15:43 - 17:31) Well, I think I'm a little bit older than... Well, no, I'm much older than Jason, and I believe I'm a little older than you, Adrian. But the less older people are just going to age out of the workforce eventually.

The younger generation now has so much more exposure to AI, like you mentioned, and some other things. I think over the next decade, it's going to get tougher to find these skilled labor. There's more money making TikTok videos and YouTube videos these days.

You can stay at home doing those content producing. We're going to just have to be diligent to make our type of work more appealing. The benefits offering PTO, 401k, focusing on training and employee retention.

I think keeping the people that you have is one of the best ways to fight those labor shortages. We, as a company, attend college campuses and trade schools to try to focus on attracting incoming labor into the workforce. When I was in school, high school, we had drafting, we had auto mechanics, which I took both of those.

Learned other trades. We just need to get back to that. Along with those labor shortages, we'll see wage increases, which needed to happen in some instances.

We'll be at the trade levels of pacing, which is more like a plumber's apprentice. We're approaching rates now. Some of the labor did need, the wages did need to increase.

With our position in multifamily, as we approach those labor increases, then we can attract the, our work is less strenuous than say re-plumbing a house or crawling under a house and installing an HVAC system. We do multiple things throughout the day. And I think that in itself would be appealing as we approach those labor increases, the wage increases.

[Jason] (17:32 - 18:21) I see a lot of guys, I'm in a lot of group holidays, but that does seem to be one of the general complaints is their pay. They're just not happy with it. Sometimes they just don't feel like the work they're doing is worth it.

I feel like we're going to have to make this more appealing in a lot of different ways to really bring people in. With that, we need to make people familiar with roles like yourself. I feel like people need a goal, they need a task, they need a long term, something to look forward to doing.

One of the things I started in this industry, I didn't even know there's anything above a supervisor. So I thought at one point, I was going to tap out and that was going to be odd to achieve. We need to familiarize people with roles like yours, give them something to work for.

I feel like that will really make people a lot happier. So with over 30 years of experience in this industry, what are some of the most significant changes you've witnessed and how have you adapted to them?

[Mark] (18:21 - 19:56) The changes in lifestyle mostly back when I started, we didn't have all the technology that we had. The loads on apartments were different. As throughout my career, being on site and going through purchases and selling of properties of various ages, you can see that in some of the older ones, even if you have an acquisition that's in the 70s.

The outlets are different, the appliance needs are different. Now we have microwaves and coffee pots and Keurigs and phone chargers built into outlets. In some of the newer developments, we have cable, we have all kinds of things that have affected that.

Accessibility to everything 24-7, information overload. I had one of the first cell phones, it was a bagged phone in my truck. I had the Gordon Gekko version too.

Some of your older audience may appreciate that, but a lot of the younger ones will not know what that is. You can Google it if you like, but it was a big phone that looked like a satellite phone that the soldiers probably carried. Along with these technology improvements, attitudes have shifted, instant gratification, entitlement.

I generally unplug from everything after hours and weekends. My social media platforms are set up in that way. My emails are set up with certain privacy settings only allowing certain things to come through.

You just have to remove yourself from the constant barrage of overload. I don't know how the younger generations do it now. They have so much to handle and the pace is such fast pace that this information is coming at them.

It's challenging for sure.

[Adrian] (19:56 - 20:23) Mark, you mentioned earlier when we're talking about attracting qualified personnel into our industry and retaining. You did mention that you're reaching out to technical schools, to high schools, maybe trying to get you to recruit that way. You also mentioned apprenticeships.

Do you currently have any apprenticeship program at your company or have you had one in the past at a previous company? Could you share some details or how did it work?

[Mark] (20:23 - 22:15) Yeah, we get a career fairs. We have interim positions at our current company for different corporate offices, different interim positions. They are paid interim positions, but for a short time.

It's difficult to get people in that type of setting. You're generally looking at maybe temp services for those type positions. There's all kinds of things on the back end or behind the scenes that come into play when you hire people on those type of temporary positions.

There's insurance requirements that are going to have to be met because if you're doing apprenticeships or internships, depending on the duration, whether or not you're offering benefits or the hours, all that stuff comes into play. But we've been to many career fairs through Wake Tech, Durham Tech. We've had some success with those direct hires afterwards.

But generally, I'm not involved in the on-site hiring and that goes more to the regional teams. Can you share any memorable success stories or achievements from your career that you're really proud of? Oh boy.

I mean, I'm a maintenance guy. That's all I've ever been. I missed that at times and I'll help out even now if I go to a site and the property's behind doing turns.

We just acquired an acquisition out in Chapel Hill not too long ago. Well, I guess it has been now time flies. But yeah, I was over there helping them do turns, doing work orders.

I miss all that stuff at times, picking up trash and even emptying the dog stations, which nobody likes. But just try to help out where I can. I believe and I've also been told I'm pretty calm and a level-headed type of person.

I don't get too excited or too upset about anything. I think it would have to be a conglomerate of small successes over the span of my career. Meeting people where they are and helping others is what I strive to do.

[Adrian] (22:15 - 22:28) You mentioned staying level-headed, kind of like an even-keeled type of person. How do you manage to do that? What helps you stay even throughout the day?

This is stressful. It could be stressful. We could all attest to that.

[Mark] (22:28 - 22:40) Yeah, I don't know. I've always been that way. Just very easygoing and things really don't...

I don't get angry about anything. That's just my personality, I guess. I really don't know how to answer that one.

[Jason] (22:41 - 22:51) You're already giving out some great advice. So you've got all this experience. What is one lesson or piece of advice that you would offer somebody who really wants to really excel in the multifamily industry?

[Mark] (22:51 - 23:11) Yeah, I think finding a mentor or people that you can learn from, but it has to be the right person with the right information and the right values. Sometimes it's not the right people, but there's a valuable lesson in that as well. Do it right the first time.

Again, be who you say you are, do what you're supposed to do, and keep your word. It's going to get you very far.

[Adrian] (23:12 - 23:36) We talked about a younger generation and all the things that they're up against. The world is different than when you and I grew up. With that being said, what would be some great pieces of advice that you have for a young person ready to enter the real world, whether they're just finishing high school and they want to get a job, or maybe they're out of college, looking for an opportunity to be on their own and just build their own life?

[Mark] (23:36 - 25:10) I think we need to get away from the stigma that going into the workforce right out of high school is a bad thing. I think people are in different financial positions, families are. It was a little bit different than when I was a young man.

You either had two options when you come out of high school. I grew up in a farming community and we weren't farmers, but I grew up in that type of environment where it was either you go to work or you join the military. College was an option.

We didn't have the, I don't want to say the instructional how to achieve those type things, but there wasn't as much information as there is now. College is not a bad thing. I think we need to encourage people to come out of school and do what they feel like.

I know many people that have college degrees that are not working in the fields that their degrees are. I think college as a whole may get some backlash for this one, but I think college as a whole, depending on what the degree is in, obviously, if you're a doctor, lawyer, those type of positions that you're actually going to use to make money. But college as a whole tells your employer that you are disciplined enough to go somewhere and be somewhere for those four years of your life.

In essence, you would be a good hire because you're disciplined in that area. But just take pride in your work, treating everyone with respect. Treat others the way you want to be treated and the rest, the recognition, the promotions, the wages, all of that will come.

It just takes patience and time.

[Jason] (25:10 - 25:19) As a certified pool operator, instructor, and EPA CFC verification doctor, can you speak to me why it's important to train and certify these maintenance and maintenance supervisors?

[Speaker 8] (25:20 - 25:20) Yeah.

[Mark] (25:20 - 26:42) I mean, I don't think anybody that's in the maintenance field could speak enough to it. I grew up and learned from people that didn't know how to... Not everyone, but just certain people that didn't know how to test sequencers or relays.

It was just a replace until you find the right part. And then you know whatever the symptom is, you know what the repair is just based off of doing that over time. So it's very important.

You waste time, you waste materials. It's very important to do training. It's important not only to our assets and properties, but also to you as an individual.

If you're working at a site, we can not only protect our properties and equipment, but we also need to protect our greatest asset is our people. We need to do that diligently to keep them from being injured. There's electrical issues, there's plumbing issues that could injure you.

There's equipment mis-operation of equipment can cause injury. So part of that goes into safety inspections at your sites, being sure your equipment's operating correctly. But training your people, we have what we call an onboarding process that we go through all of that.

Anybody that we hire, we spend weeks, months, and then we do quarterly trainings. We do so many trainings a year. So it's very important.

I can't speak enough to it.

[Adrian] (26:42 - 26:53) I want to ask you about the importance of having a mentor. Could you speak on someone, or more than one person that you had as a mentor throughout your career, and how did they influence your career?

[Mark] (26:53 - 27:58) Yeah, it's very important. Again, we spoke about it briefly earlier to find the right person that's willing to invest the time in you. I've been fortunate to have many of those people and still do in my current position, have people that I view as mentors that I learn from daily.

It's very important to find someone for that. I've been very fortunate. Again, I mentioned our director of asset manager previously.

She and I were very similar, and I learned so much from her. I have people that I work with daily, even site levels. I can talk to different supervisors or different techs along the way, and we can talk about something that may be going on with the site.

You can learn from people every day. It doesn't matter the position. It doesn't matter the person.

There's always something to learn every day. The executive team that I work with now, always learning. You can learn how to handle problems.

You can learn how to handle people. We offer that type of partnership with our employees and staff regularly. We all learn from each other.

[Jason] (27:58 - 28:09) What do you think you can do, both as an individual and as a company, to keep these talented people around? What can we offer them incentive-wise to keep them?

[Mark] (28:09 - 31:18) To attract people and retain people, I think you have to see people. I think a lot of times, people are overlooked or feel that they're not important. People want to be seen, acknowledged.

They want to be heard. They want to have a voice. Even if we hear what we consider to be a bad idea or a practice, we should take the time to explain why we think that may be a bad idea or a practice and not discourage anyone's ideas or opinions.

But as far as attracting people, it goes back to what we were saying earlier. A lot of that comes with advertising, which we have great people in our HR department who does exceptional position posting. There's all kinds of tools.

Our marketing team does such a wonderful job offering our positions out, keeping our properties at the forefront of people's viewing. We have a lot of plans in place in that regard. But I think the most thing is...

We focus more on retention versus attracting people because we have good people in place. We've hired people. We've hired people for a reason.

Mostly, it's our interaction with them, what we're doing through the interview process, what we see in them so that we can train people to do. Attitude goes a long way in retention of people. You can train people to do certain things if they have the attitude.

I think it's the biggest to want to learn and want to be there and want to do a good job for you. The rest of the stuff you can help people learn. I want to ask you about legacy.

How would you like to be remembered? Personally, my hope is that I've left some small impression on everyone that I come into contact with. I saw your post earlier today when I was on LinkedIn about you're starting with one person at a time.

And I think that's very true and very important. I try to be kind. I try to treat everyone just like I want to be treated, always ready to lend a helping hand to anybody that may need one, whatever the case may be.

But I've had many maintenance people come up to me along the way and say things like, I remember you helping me move that refrigerator or helping me do this or helping me do that. We just have to remember that we see things that impact us, also does the same for everyone else. There's things people go through in their lives that we don't know anything about.

So it's hard for me, though, because I generally don't ask for help or accept presents and things. I struggle with that, trying to get better. But I guess the answer for that would be for me to be remembered for being a kind person, a friend, and willing to lend a helping hand.

So what is one piece of advice you would give to an instructor in the industry? My advice would be to make sure you're able to reach everyone that learns those different ways in the classroom setting. Your student's success is your success.

You can offer one-on-one time if you have to. I think that's why our school teachers do what they do and do it so well for so little money. They have the passion for those students, and they only want them to succeed.

A lot of times, that's at their own expense. They're buying materials, pencils, pads, class materials out of their own pockets. I think you need to have the passion for your students and meet them where they are in their learning process.

[Adrian] (31:18 - 31:36) I could totally resonate with this, Mark, since my wife's been a teacher for 20-plus years, over 25 years. If you don't have the calling, you need to be called into that profession. If you don't have that calling to do it, then you're just not going to be around for too long.

She's been going on probably over 25 years.

[Mark] (31:37 - 32:01) That's very admirable. It's a struggle now, because it's different environments. When I was a child in third grade or whatever, we were coloring and playing outside.

Now, I think the kids are introduced to cell phones, and they have classroom computers. It's a whole different way of learning now. It's a lot to keep up with, a lot of pressure.

[Adrian] (32:01 - 32:11) You can go into that for sure. What are some challenges and opportunities you see for us as an industry, as a multifamily? 2024 and beyond 2024.

[Mark] (32:11 - 32:41) I think it goes back to the labor shortages. It's going to be requiring employees, keeping them. We as Americans, I'll classify us that way, have a short attention span.

In my career, I've seen maintenance guys leave one job for 10 more hours. I think the challenges are going to be keeping people, acquiring people, paying them a decent wage, and having that work-life balance is going to be the key, I believe.

[Jason] (32:42 - 32:55) One of the issues we face a lot down here is the lack of training for Spanish-only speaking personnel. I'm not sure how it is in your area. That's something we really struggle with.

Do you have any advice on how we can get better access to training for those who speak only Spanish?

[Mark] (32:56 - 34:26) Well, I've tried to do that. I would say that some of my Spanish-speaking friends would say I speak Spanglish. I can speak some Spanish, but not to be understood.

But it's broken and fragmented. Fortunately, here in the United States, we've got several great programs in place in this country to assist not only our Spanish-speaking friends. Many colleges, technical campuses offer English to multiple language needs.

The CPO online classes have interpreters that we, as instructors, can use. There is a small fee associated with that, but it's worth it trying to get the information across. I've had students that speak Spanish.

They even have Spanish materials in those CPO classes, which don't translate exactly into the English version. So it's been difficult in that area. But it's like the saying goes, where there's a will, there's a way.

It not only applies to the individual seeking it, but also to the one providing it. So I think additional work is needed there for sure. Over my career, I have seen several Hispanic people come through the workforce, cleaning, maintenance techs, supervisors.

Having someone there that can help with that, that language barrier, is a great tool. The AI comes into play now. There's AI that you can speak in whatever language it is.

Maybe Google Translate or one of those other type products. But there are tools out there to help with that.

[Jason] (34:27 - 34:37) I was just saying, Google Translate is a must-have tool in this industry. You have to be able to utilize that. It's not a question of if it is when you need it.

You need to utilize that.

[Mark] (34:37 - 35:01) Even doing work orders and things like that, if you need to communicate with a resident, there's any languages that... I mean, it has every language in there. So you could say what you want to say in English or Spanish or whatever language you're speaking, and use Google Translate and it'll translate it for you into whatever language you want.

So AI is a good technological advance that we're seeing and we'll be using much more.

[Adrian] (35:02 - 35:15) Marc, one of the things we don't talk enough about in society in general is failure. The fact that we fail all the time on a daily basis. How did a failure or apparent failure set you up for future success?

[Mark] (35:16 - 37:07) Yes, we do fail every day. I generally don't focus on past failures, but we should always learn from our mistakes and take what we learned to move on. And staying in any failure isn't good for anyone.

I can't think of anything that would have set me up for any future successes. Again, it's just once you make a mistake on it, whether it be a personal one, working, there's nothing that people shouldn't be able to overcome as far as... Or nothing too bad.

I guess I would say they can't either be forgiven or moved on from. I think the biggest thing is going to be to own it, move past it, learn from it, and keep on moving. What are one of your favorite books, professional and nonfiction?

I don't really have a lot of time to read anymore. I spend a lot of my time... If I do read, it's going to be more business material type things, things that relate to either my position or the industry.

I stay really busy in my off time, helping personal projects for my family and friends. I stay very busy doing that. I take piano lessons.

I spend some time at the gym. I was taking karate classes, but I had to stop that due to an injury. But I also find time to play golf when I can.

So as far as books to read, there's only one book for me, which is a good book. My personal library consists of a lot of religious writings, mostly from different authors. C.S. Lewis, which did The Chronicles of Narnia. There's some other books that I have in this collection. John Bunyan is another person that I read, which would be The Pilgrim's Progress or Grace Abounding. I have a lot of other good reads from different authors.

Norman Geisler, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, David Jeremiah, Ravi Zacharias. It's all in the Bible for me when I do get a chance to. I should make more time to do that.

I will clarify that.

[Voiceover] (37:07 - 37:11) And now a word from Sean Landsberg, co-founder, AppWork.

[Adrian] (37:11 - 37:28) The ideal experience from an end user perspective is the Uber experience. What I mean by that is that you put the app in the hands of anyone who would know how to video. They should be able to figure it out and order an Uber.

How is that AppWork providing that type of Uber experience for maintenance?

[Sean] (37:29 - 38:24) We've done a lot of research behind each and every end user of the product, whether it's your property manager, your leasing agent, your regional manager, your maintenance supervisor, and your maintenance technician. And we did a lot of research behind them. For example, the app is used by maintenance supervisors and maintenance technicians.

So we have to build a profile around them, who they are, how they think, how they're going to interact with the app. And we have to design it in a way that requires little to no training. Like you said, we used Uber as our model.

Aside from incorporating features, such as reviews and other really cool components to the Uber style, it was designed behind the same concept of Uber. Whereas when somebody goes to call an Uber to take them from point A to point B, there's no how-to videos or even instructions. So, hey, let's teach you how to use Uber.

It's you download the app and you know how to use it. So that was the same thing for us. We use that from a design perspective.

We need this to be as simple as it is to call an Uber.

[Adrian] (38:24 - 38:32) Now it's time to turn tables, to switch roles. And we're going to have you ask the questions, and Jason and I will answer.

[Mark] (38:32 - 39:36) Perfect. I'm interviewing the interviewers, which is awesome. Yes, I do have some questions.

And maybe your viewers may like to know these as well. I know you've been around a long time and you have many connections. And a lot of people have watched you over time on LinkedIn.

You've had some wonderful connections, wonderful relationships. Throughout some of the times that I've seen and been connected with you, I think you came into the States from Romania in 2003, where we're talking about. Just wanted to know some of the challenges you faced, if you spoke English when you came, when you arrived, if there was any fears, language barriers, job search challenges.

I noticed through your LinkedIn posts, you've had, I'll go back over this here in a second, through your LinkedIn posts, I've seen you take photos on airplanes and with team members. And I've also noticed you moved through different positions. So just wanted to know some of the challenges you faced when you arrived, language barriers, job searches.

Through those positional moves, what was your motivation for those?

[Adrian] (39:36 - 44:19) All great questions, Mark. And I'm excited to have the opportunity to speak on each and every one of them. Fear of the unknown, knowing the English.

When I first came, when I first landed in the United States in 2003, my vocabulary, English vocabulary, consisted of probably 30 to 50 words, none of which I would probably express in a conversation like this. I wouldn't be proud to use most of them that I knew. So the bad words.

I started doing any type of job that would come at me. I was staying with a Romanian family. They introduced us to, my wife and I, to some church members at the church where they were going to.

And they were starting to give me small jobs. Demolition, basically construction-related. Most of the people over there at the church worked some sort of construction job.

And I used to go and just help as a helper. I was going to night classes, English classes. I only went there for 2 or 3 months.

I had to quit because I had to work extended hours. Everything that I've learned was through listening to others, watching TV, and listening to others and conversational. So basically, that was 90% of me learning English.

This is how I've learned to speak English. As far as being afraid, when you don't have too many opportunities where you are currently, knowing that you're going to go on a place that historically has been offering the most opportunities ever. In human history, I don't think that there's any fear.

At least it wasn't for me. I made a decision to leave my family, leave my friends, leave my entire life that I had previously behind. I just made that decision.

I didn't look back. Not because I didn't care, but I just know that you can't live in 2 worlds at the same time. Trying to be mentally back there and missing the stuff all the time wouldn't be of much help to me.

So I just left. Of course, I go visit often back there with family and friends. But my life is here.

It has been here for 20 years. I'm a proud American. I wanted to say becoming an American citizen was one of the proudest moments in my life.

I'm very proud to say that I'm American. This is one of the biggest differences between America, United States, and the other countries. When you go to live in Germany, you're going to be an American or a Romanian.

Living in Germany, even if you're going to become a citizen, people will still look at you as an immigrant. Right here, the difference is that if you come and you do the right thing, you become an American. That is the major difference between the United States and other countries.

I think that really contributed culturally to the success the United States had for centuries now, for at least a century. I never started a job thinking that this is going to be short term or I only have to be here for 6 months or a year or even 3 years. Timeline was not important to me.

Most of the times I've left a company because I outgrew my position and the next position up was not available. Or maybe it didn't exist, period. There were also two situations when I got laid off.

So there was no choice. My position was eliminated. And there was also a situation where I was hired to be a leader, to basically help a company grow their assets, grow their people.

And it turned out that all I was needed for was just to float and be present when a service manager was not at the site, whether they're on vacation or there was no service manager at the site. Which was... At that time, I was a director already.

So that was a couple of steps back for me. So that was a short stay. It was only 5 months with a particular company.

I wanted to say that looking back into retrospect, I worked for companies up to 7 years. I had short stays and I had long stays. Looking back, I think I'm grateful that I was able to work for several companies.

And here's why. I've gotten to know a lot of leaders. I've got to learn a lot from leaders.

I learned a lot about different cultures, different ways of doing things that I took with me. And I also learned about things that... Ways of how I shouldn't be doing things.

They were all amazing experiences, every single one of them. Even the short-lived ones were amazing experiences. I hope I answered your questions.

If I missed on anything, then please let me know.

[Mark] (44:19 - 46:09) No, not at all. I agree with that. I think we also need to get out of the stigma of looking at different...

As hiring people, looking at the stigma of your job hopping. And we don't know all of... Just by looking at the information on the page, we're not having a conversation with the person that we may be interviewing.

Throughout all of that, you have these... You're a real estate investor, you're the founder of this Multi-Family X consulting, you hosted these 3 podcasts. All of that is impressive.

I think going back to the Spanish-speaking conversation that Jason had asked about, it sounds like total immersion in language is the way to overcome any language barriers, not with just Spanish-speaking. But I personally have taken inspiration from your story of emulating some of your site visits that I've noticed, posting photos of our maintenance teams. They are the unsung heroes that come out at night.

They can feel me as a maintenance person. I know all about being on call. They can feel under appreciated at times.

But our company, as a result of my social media posting, has come up with Maintenance Mondays as a result. And they're posting these on PRG's social media. So I think it just takes like-minded people to start these movements, for sure.

But Jason, I'll turn it over to you. Just wondering where you're located. I know you said you had started as a grounds-person, was promoted to a supervisor within 6 months in the industry.

So I just wanted to see how you achieved those great strides in such a short time. As the second part of that question, I did see a post on your LinkedIn account. You mentioned the challenges of maintaining your NOI while trying to put your residence first.

So I wanted to see where you're located, how you became a supervisor in such a short time, and your challenges in maintaining your NOI.

[Jason] (46:09 - 51:43) I am based out of Midland, Odessa, Texas. Hermion Basin. We're basically known for producing most of the oil in America, other than if you go up north of Montana.

Without the oil, this entire area would not exist. Realistically, there's nothing here but oil and places for people to live. And I did the oil field most of my life.

I salute everyone who does that for a full time. I did it for quite a while. I got married, and I wanted to be around my wife a little bit more.

And when you work in the oil field, you are working more than you ever have your entire life. You're going to work an insane amount of hours. And if you're one of the guys that can handle it, you're better than me.

It takes a very strong individual to consistently work. My journey to a supervisor was honestly a mix of spite and dumb luck to be completely honest. And there's a lot of hard work.

I'm not going to sit here and pretend I didn't work hard for it. But I started as a groundskeeper. Within the first week, the maintenance supervisor there got fired.

And it was literally just me out of property by myself. Workers started piling up. And of course, they're like, you think you can do any of this?

I have hand tools. I've worked a little bit on cars. I had some basic comments.

And so I just started doing them. And I consistently do and kept doing things. And I tore up a lot of stuff.

I'm not gonna lie. I definitely tore some stuff up in the beginning. I did not know what I was doing.

And I had no one to guide me other than YouTube, to be completely honest. And over time, I got a little bit better. I got a few more tools.

And they couldn't not... They just couldn't keep hiring anybody. And we had a sister property that was a classy sister property.

And they were desperately for a technician. So they offered me a promotion to a tech if I went over there. And everybody did want me.

They're like, Hey, it's a classy property. You're going from a class A to a class C. You're not going to like it.

And I'm like, I don't... I didn't know what the difference was. I'm like, it's an apartment.

It'll be fine. It can't be that bad. It was that bad.

My first day, I had over 350 service requests. They hadn't had any maintenance in about 4 months or so. It was rough.

They had been contracting every single make ready out with a contracting company. And it was tough. It was an honestly absolute nightmare.

But it was a nightmare that taught me everything I knew. Within such a short amount of time, I had done just about everything on a daily basis. And you name it, I was there doing it.

It was a new, unique challenge every day. I tell everybody now, if you want to become a good supervisor, go to class C and that will cut your teeth and that will show you everything. Class A is fantastic in its own right.

But class C, I heavily suggest everybody needs to spend time in class C properly. It's going to teach you a whole different skill set. I did that for just a few short months.

We got an EPA... They hired one other guy. They still couldn't find a supervisor.

So it was just me and one of the tech. We got an EPA certification. We got a CPO.

And honestly, we thought we were going to get paid a little bit more. And we were making considerably less than the industry standard for what we were doing. So we thought we were ready to make a little bit more cash.

And we got into a conversation with an upper who basically told us, don't expect that to happen. We understand we were upset. We have been busting our hump for months.

We wanted something more. So we rage applied. I got on Indeed on my phone and I saw a job listing for a maintenance tech.

I just hit quick apply. About a day later, I get a call. Hi, this is so-and-so from this company.

I see you're interested in our maintenance supervisor position. And my heart dropped. All I saw was maintenance tech.

He was a maintenance tech supervisor. And I was like, yeah, yeah, yeah. Of course.

I set up the interview and I told my wife, I'm like, I'm not ready for this. I don't have the skills. I don't know what I'm doing enough.

One thing she told me that I'll never forget is you do not let somebody else judge you. You let them decide if you have a skill set or not. Don't shoot yourself in the foot.

So I went to the interview and I realized I had all the skill sets they wanted. I knew HVAC. I knew plumbing.

I knew electric. I learned it all in such a short time because I had so much just insane, crazy stuff happening. So I let them decide and they hired me.

One thing I will say is I don't think I'm still... That first jump to managing people is 10 times harder than me actually doing any of the job. I think managing people is the most difficult aspect, period.

That was how I ended up as a supervisor. And I've been one ever since. We're pushing on year 4.

When I started as a groundskeeper, I was able to connect with the residents on their complaints because I'm just a groundskeeper. They're just doing whatever they're doing in the office. I'm not part of them.

And then I realized earlier with the residents that I should have when it came to that. And I would want to just give them whatever they want. Because we're basically friends.

That's not the reality of the situation. Every time I got a bump up in my career, I realized that we don't necessarily work for the residents. We work for a client.

If you're working for a third-party company, we're working for a client. We want to provide them with the best possible service. But we also...

We are looking at a client. And it's hard to balance that. You're balancing it with your career.

But you also... Everybody here, everybody's got to do a hard thing. That's a hard thing to balance.

It really is. And I don't have a perfect answer to that. But I keep in my head now that I work for a client.

I will give my residents everything that I can. But I'm not going to bend a knee to give them things that they don't need. You're not getting into a oven just because you don't like it.

That's not going to happen.

[Mark] (51:43 - 52:38) It's a tough balance for sure. Residents... Let's be honest.

Vacant apartments doesn't pay our salaries. It doesn't pay the mortgages. It doesn't do a lot of things.

It is a fine balance there for sure. I'll switch over to... Back to you, Adrian.

In one of your recent posts, I noticed that you had mentioned a void existing between what we as supervisors receive in training versus what's passed down to our on-site teams. And my attempts to bring awareness to our personnel, I've realized the challenges with access to or interest even in social media. Can you speak more to your passion for helping your maintenance teams?

And how are you reaching your targeted audiences? And elaborate maybe why you started these podcasts, who you're trying to reach, given these challenges with a lot of maintenance folks who are not social media or even computer savvy at times.

[Adrian] (52:38 - 58:41) I think it's important. Social media, whether we like or dislike, is going to exist. It's going to be here for a long time.

And just because someone does not want to be... They're not naturally inclined to be present. Like to be in, let's say, everybody's face, it doesn't mean that we shouldn't actually show them some of the benefits that are out there for being on social media.

I'm going to... Let's just stick with LinkedIn. Because I think LinkedIn is really the platform that I'm spending probably 98% of my time.

I do have other social media accounts. I'm just randomly posting out there. But I'm staying on LinkedIn.

And I spend a lot of time on LinkedIn because I understood a few things. So this started probably 12-13 years ago for me, where I heard about LinkedIn. And I heard that people, professionals are on this platform.

And I thought that maybe some opportunities will come my way. Job opportunities by me connecting with certain people. So it started as a resource for possible opportunities, career opportunities.

And then the platform has evolved. We started seeing more content being created. I started being there more often.

And I ended up being there a lot. Because I'm firmly convinced that someone that has a personal brand that's present in people's space has a lot better chance to get access to amazing opportunities than someone that's not. Social media today is what the newspaper was 30 years ago.

You get up in the morning, you make your coffee, you pick up your phone, and you scroll down on a feed. LinkedIn, let's say, for professionals. If someone is not on your LinkedIn feed for you, they don't exist.

Of course, unless they're close friends and family. But I'm talking about professionally speaking. If they're not in your feed, they could be in your connections, but you don't have a realization in your mind, in your brain, they don't exist.

Right? So the way for someone to be in someone's environment, they have to post, they had to comment, they had to interact, they had to be present. This helped me get three different opportunities with three different companies.

And they weren't even from the hiring manager, the person that was looking to hire. There was someone in that company that knew of me from LinkedIn, and they reached out saying, Hey, we have a great opportunity. I've been following you on LinkedIn.

I think you'll be great for this. Are you interested? And I was.

And I ended up getting the job. Imagine me and imagine probably 20 or 50 or 100 other people that went on Indeed or where the position was posted. Imagine how was their experience versus how my experience was.

Someone reached out. They presented me to the hiring manager. I interviewed.

Of course, it wasn't... I don't want to make it look like it was so easy. They just handed me the job.

You had to go through a process. Sometimes there were two or three interviews in the process. But still, for me, not having to stand in line and a lot of times not being able to have my resume being seen due to the volume of applicants, which that happens often, I think it's a testament of how powerful social media is, how powerful brand awareness is.

Building a brand, intentionally building your brand is and how beneficial it is for you. I started highlighting high performance in my teams because I think that we're... Like you said, sometimes we're overlooked.

It could be a very tempting job to be a maintenance at a site level. You will hear from the higher-ups a lot of times just when something is wrong, when you did something wrong, there's a resident complaint. But how often do you hear when someone wants to say thank you, just a simple thank you, to acknowledge that you exist, to appreciate that you're there, and to appreciate the work that you do, the difference that you make in people's lives.

So I said, I'm not going to wait for any other higher-up. I'm in a position where I could actually make a difference. And every time I would go to a site or make a point to talk to my people, grab an amazing story about something great that happened out there, take a picture with a group of my teammates or a single one that can excel at something, and just tell everybody else the story about them.

How they got a certification, how they moved up the ladder, how they completed 20 work orders in a day, whatever that might be. I also wanted to provide my teammates with an opportunity to be the best that they could be, even if that might mean they're not going to be within my organization. Which sounds kind of counterproductive.

People are typically very protective of, hey, we don't want to expose our employees to opportunities. Or I even heard, we don't want to send them to training at an apartment association because they will be meeting with other maintenance employees, and those employees might recruit them to come work for their company. I mean, to me, that's totally wrong.

It's someone that is very insecure, and they have a very good reason to be afraid. The reason being is that they're not offering a great environment for their own employees. Even when you offer a great environment, there might be an opportunity within your organization that might not be an opportunity within your organization that's right for them.

And that's absolutely fine. You have to wish the best for people. You want to help them be the best.

And at the end of the day, things will work out anyway. Because even if someone leaves because there's not an opportunity for what they need for the moment, the way they leave is extremely important. Because they're going to talk to a lot of people about that experience when they were out of the door.

And a lot of companies are making these mistakes. They're cutting all the ties. When someone gives notice, they're being looked at as they're marginalized or even hated for doing that.

And most managers forget that at some point, they had to leave another job to be in a job that they're currently in today most of the time.

[Mark] (58:41 - 59:12) Yeah, we have longevity. I mean, there's employees in PRG that's been with the company for 15, 18 years, 20 years. I think going to one of your points, if you treat people to the training aspect, you treat people and employees the way that you should treat them, and they're not going to want to leave.

So one of the other parts was why you started the podcast. And then you've mentioned that void being what we as supervisors receive in training versus what's actually passed down to the on-site teams.

[Adrian] (59:12 - 1:01:06) If it's not for conversations like we have now, that we could actually report and put out into the world, this conversation will stay between the three of us. This is not a scalable model. We, in person, could touch so many people in our lifetime, in a day, in a month, in a year.

I could only go, for example, to 200-something networking events every year because there are so many working days in a year. I could probably meet 1,000 or 2,000 people. But that's not scalable.

How do we make a bigger difference? I could only visit five sites a week. I could only meet with 50 or 100 employees a month.

But what if we just scale this? To me, this is a way to scale. We produce this content, we put it up in the world, and we try to push it to where our people congregate virtually, not physically.

Whether it's LinkedIn or whether it's Facebook groups that Jason just mentioned. They're multifamily maintenance-related groups that have 20, 30, 40,000 members. Those are the areas where we should be putting out this content and generate conversations.

I'm not scared to be wrong about things. I just want to start a conversation. Because what we don't have, we don't have enough conversation.

This is one of the reasons why I started this particular podcast. The other podcast that I have, for similar reasons. Most people in our industry, 98%, 99% of our industry, they're not part of the industry conferences.

They don't go to farm association trainings, gatherings, or activities. They're just in contact with their co-workers at the site level. How do we get them exposed to all that valuable information that's outside of their circle and outside of their reach?

And I think these conversations are a great way to do it.

[Mark] (1:01:06 - 1:01:53) I agree. I mean, we always encourage our employees, whether they're office of maintenance, to look into the CAM-T certifications, the Certified Apartment Leasing, the CALP, I think it's called, Portfolio Manager, the CAMs. We're always encouraging everyone to get as much as they can at the local apartment associations. Jason, I'll turn this one to you.

Based on what I've seen in conversations that you and I've had, and what I've seen on your LinkedIn, you're also heavily involved in the local apartment associations, serving on the BOD and co-chairing the Next Gen Committee. So I just wanted you to speak to that. What is the Next Gen Committee?

And what are your challenges or benefits that you see from being involved in the apartment associations?

[Jason] (1:01:54 - 1:03:36) It really depends on who you ask. The official definition seems it's more like a recruitment tool to bring people on the committees, to get people involved. But another way that I really prefer to look at it, it's really a...

It's more of an idea committee. We brainstorm a lot. We come up with fundraising ideas.

We come up with... We create the ideas and we push those ideas off to other committees. We bring people in.

Okay, so this is what you like to do. We push you off the PR committee to the Events and Planning Committee. We bring people in.

We get ideas. We just do a lot of brainstorming. One of the things that...

Another things that we are focusing on right now is we are creating a multi-family maintenance training program with a local college, a local Odessa college. So that's something we're working on now. As a New Z of a program, it's not been an easy task, but we are making things happen.

We're making grooves and strokes and we're getting there. We're basing a lot of our coursework off the KMT. Course itself with the goal to offer a KMT at the end of the course.

I actually am lucky enough to be one of those instructors in the program once we get everything set up. So that's our big ticket item right now. Another thing that we do is we create...

We created scholarships for those credentials you were just talking about. CAM, KMT, CALP, CAPS. We also have a scholarship for Apartmentalize.

That's the NAA conference and TAA1. That's our, of course, our Texas version of Apartmentalize. We do a lot of fundraising to fund these.

And that's basically the gist of NextGen is we... We're ideas, we're recruitment, and we're scholarships, more or less.

[Mark] (1:03:37 - 1:03:53) Speaking of that, you earned the Emerging Leader designation with the Texas Apartment Association, which I guess allows you to be part of the executive committee. I'm a firm believer in personal improvement. So what was your motivation for making those moves?

And what were you trying to accomplish?

[Jason] (1:03:53 - 1:05:07) I have always been a huge advocate for maintenance, period. I see... During this industry, I always saw the office staff getting this, getting all the recognition.

And it felt like we were thrown to the side. And it bothered me. It really did.

It got under my skin. And I realized, just to talk about those Facebook groups, those guys, a lot of these guys feel the same way. They feel like we are the redheaded stepchild of a multi-family.

And it bothers me. And one of my main reasons we're doing this is I want other maintenance to see that they can do anything. They can do absolutely anything.

I'm sitting here on this executive committee rubbing shoulders with some of the most hyper-intelligent people I've ever met in my life. People who are light years ahead in their career. I've noticed that people who are light years ahead and so intelligent, they're extremely competent.

I noticed that that treatment goes away at some point. But I do want one of their maintenance guys to really say that they can achieve anything that they put their mind to. That's one of my big things.

I just want them to be able to see what they are just as capable of. And that was one of my main motivations for even applying for that designation.

[Mark] (1:05:08 - 1:05:37) That's awesome. It's that saying, how does it go? If you're the smartest person in the room, then you're in the wrong room.

I'll switch back over to you, Adrian. We were talking earlier about different things and how you inspired me. But why did you choose to become an entrepreneur?

And what motivated you to represent people? I see that you're representing different people for different positions. But I just wanted to see what motivated you to do that and then to help them hand the job searches or people that are transitioning to different positions.

[Adrian] (1:05:37 - 1:06:55) I've been in about every single position that I could have been in maintenance. I felt like without being an entrepreneur, this wouldn't be in a full circle for me. When you become a vice president of maintenance and facilities, that's the highest that you would go.

I feel that being an entrepreneur, working for myself, building a company will allow me to work not just for one management company at the time, but I could work for maybe two or three or five. So I could help more than one company at once, making a difference. Representing different individuals, professionals that are looking for work.

This has been an idea of mine for a very long time. I think that we should have a talent agency, just like you have the sport agencies for talented athletes. This is the way you should work in our industry too.

Besides recruiting, having something that's talent representation. Have an agency, have a company that represents talented individuals. And then companies could look at their profiles and say, this is something that we could be using in our company currently.

We could be using a person like this to work for us. So it's something that hasn't been done like this before. It's pretty ambitious, but I'm willing to take on the challenge and see where the challenge takes me.

[Mark] (1:06:55 - 1:08:10) Yeah. I mean, the reach with social media, like you mentioned, that you post your stuff on your pages, all of your connections, then can either repost and then it can reach so many people. I probably am not going to watch this podcast because I don't like to hear my voice or see me in anything like that.

If I was a movie star, I'd never watch the movies, but I will certainly expose our maintenance teams and anyone else that I can reach as well. I repost things all the time. So I think that's very important.

Jason, we're talking about doing the CPO classes and my instructional opportunities, but I noticed that you're an instructor for the EPA exam. You do the in-class version of it, I guess. But I teach the CPO classes at times.

I do find it challenging for students to be engaged. I want them to be able, obviously, to get the most out of each session, but also be able to reach people where they're at in their learning, which we talked about earlier, as we do all learn differently. But you teach the class in person and proctor the exams.

What are some of those challenges you see in the classroom setting? What type of training would you like to see in regards to any upcoming refrigerant changes? I am still a new instructor.

[Jason] (1:08:10 - 1:10:18) I've only hosted a couple of courses, and it's completely different than what I expected, to be honest. I feel for our teachers now, to be completely honest. I have got my karma for not paying attention in class.

One of the hardest things is I walk up and I have 15 people just staring at me with a blank face. My first class, I was terrified. I was nervous.

I couldn't sleep the night before. I was panicking. I had two cups of coffee.

I got up there and everybody just staring at me, blank face. I don't know any of these guys. I'm tripping over my words.

I was so serious about it that it made it difficult for me. Whereas the later half, I kind of cut loose. I relaxed a little bit and it got much smoother.

I will say I was not prepared for a grown man to fall asleep and start snoring on his desk. I kind of looked and everybody stopped and we all kind of looked at him. And I walked up and I knocked on the desk.

Are you okay, buddy? And he's like, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm like, okay.

Pay attention, man. You need to pass this. One of the things I do think that we really need to coach for, and I'm still learning a lot about this new refrigerant.

So I am by no means an expert because I'm learning about this as we go. There's a lot of misinformation and a lot of fear about this new refrigerant. A lot of people are thinking it's just going to...

It's just going to blow up everywhere. It's going to be totally dangerous to even touch the new refrigerant. There's a lot of misinformation about the difference between being flammable and combustible.

I think we're going to have to combat that fear. A lot of these guys are terrified of this new refrigerant. They really think it's just like I said.

And so a lot of these guys are thinking it's a ticking time bomb. It's going to be a nightmare. And we're going to have to combat some of this misinformation with corrective training and show people that this is a somewhat safe refrigerant.

It's just as safe as your 410 and your R22. Anything can be dangerous if you're not doing the correct procedures. And if you're not watching your P's and Q's, anything can be dangerous.

You spray some 410 in your eye, you're going to feel that. You're going to feel that just as much as a burn on your arm.

[Mark] (1:10:18 - 1:10:34) It goes back to training and protecting our people. I mean, you can't speak enough to the training for sure. Adrian, I'll switch back over to you just to see what your main prediction is for multifamily maintenance in 2024.

Technology, labor force, outsourcing, contracting.

[Adrian] (1:10:34 - 1:14:16) I believe we're going to see two trends. One of the trends is going to be companies that haven't started or that just started last year. Centralization efforts, they will continue to push for centralization.

Companies that have been in this game for maybe two or three years, they will start scaling back. And I'm talking about large institutional companies, right? If we're talking about a small group of properties in the same neighborhood, 20 here, 30 here, 50 here, there's many ways in which you could skin the cat and some centralization is possible.

But I think we as an industry, we tend to forget the fact that, you know, this is a business that's already scaled. When you have 200 or 300 apartments in one place, that's a business that's already being scaled. You don't have 300 homes scattered all over town.

They're all in one place. Trying to scale what's already being scaled, it becomes difficult, not impossible. There are certain things that could be done too, but we're very, very limited to that.

So I think that companies that have started, the institutional ones that started like two, three, four years ago, the strength, they're going to be scaling back. They're going to be going back to the classic model of like having one person per 100 units at a site. That's kind of the main trend.

Another trend is going to be, because of the labor shortages, and I'm making a prediction here, I'm saying at a worldwide level, the businesses are growing at a faster pace than the population grows. So the labor shortage, not just for multifamily maintenance, but for everybody, for all the companies, is here to stay at least throughout our lifetimes. I don't think it's going to change.

We're still going to see companies starting to outsource more. Because if you don't have full-time employees to do the work in-house, you're going to have to start outsourcing. There's no other chance.

And I think that some companies will take a serious look at making their operations more efficient. Some people, I think, wrongly call this centralization. For example, let's just say that you have your classic deadbolt locks on the doors, on apartment doors.

If you were to change those with keyless locks, and commercial grade, not just regular stuff that could be very cheap, like $50 from Amazon, something that's commercial grade, I think that that will make a great difference. Actually, I have cases of individual leaders in Mainz that shared that with me on a podcast here that they went through those programs and they would never go back to the classic deadbolts. Their teams are extremely happy, and it puts a lot of time back into their day.

And it eliminates that clutter, that long line of vendors in the office waiting to pick up a key, or waiting to return their key and get their ID back. We're also seeing some increases, significant increases in insurance rates. And I think companies are looking now, they're forced to look at solutions to prevent expenses that are insurance-related, like floods or major mold issues.

And one of the ways in which you could prevent that is to install leak sensors. Again, the conversation is going to go back to what type of leak sensors are we using? Is it something that you could buy for a few dollars from Amazon and expect it to do miracles?

Or is it just something like a commercial grade solution that's being developed that's very reliable and it's also scalable? You could install it at scale. So I think those are the trends that we're going to be seeing this year.

They're becoming more of a norm, not just like isolated initiatives here and there. We'll see more companies adopting those solutions.

[Mark] (1:14:17 - 1:15:39) Yeah, we use some of that technology now. A lot of the older communities have the water heater stuck underneath kitchen cabinets in the corner, which is difficult to get to. So we have some water leak processes in place with those.

It was a company many years ago, I don't even know if they're in business, but it's kind of like you're saying with the centralization and they operated this way. They had multiple different trades that operated in vans and they would just move around from property to property, depending on what all the work orders and those type things came to a central location. And then they dispersed them to whatever needed to happen.

If it was painters that needed to go out, there was a couple of guys in a van that would go do that. If there was HVAC calls, they would be assigned 10, 20, however many tickets operated, just like a service company, I guess. It may be headed that way.

I don't foresee us operating in that way. Some times change and things. You have to make adjustments, but I don't even know if that company is still in business.

Jason, I'll transition back to you. You said, and I heard you say, you had worked at several assets from C to A class, or you went from A to C, as well as HUD properties. You mentioned that you had been in the business about four or five years.

I wanted to see which type of style of community do you feel that you performed at best?

[Jason] (1:15:39 - 1:16:40) I'm going to have to say Class C. Class C will keep you on your toes. You will stress, and you will think about work, even at home, and you will take it home with you.

And when I feel like I'm at my absolute highest performance, when I am nonstop, 24-7, go, go, go, go, go. To be fair, though, I couldn't do all this extra stuff I do outside of work. I wouldn't be able to do it without a Class C.

To be completely honest, I would not have the time allowances to do what I do at Class C. I think every property has its perks. HUD will teach you a ton about fair housing.

Go through a REACT one time, you will learn so much. But I would say, I would have to say, C property is where I had my absolute highest performance. Because you just don't have a timetable, right?

You are going, going, going. I kind of like that. I'm not going on seven days.

There are days where I miss it. And there are days here where I'm cleaning like pictures in a brewery way. And I'm just like...

[Mark] (1:16:41 - 1:17:31) I've been at a range of properties myself. A to D properties. Some also HUD properties.

And I found that, as technology advances, your supervisors are going to move from being actually able to be out on site, performing the work orders and the service duties. They're going to be more of a managerial type position. Monitoring the work orders through the operating system improvements, those type of things.

It is a lot of transitions coming in for sure. Adrian, if you'd like to speak more, I just had another question about the current challenges and opportunities in the multifamily maintenance fields. We've already touched on a lot.

Do you have anything else to add to that?

[Adrian] (1:17:31 - 1:18:51) Yeah, I want to speak on opportunity. That's here for all three of us here on this call. For those that are watching, the opportunity is to elevate maintenance to where it should have been for decades.

It's a very important part in property management. A part that affects how residents are seeing the management companies, affecting retention rates, resident retention rates, making our companies more money. Especially in the context that I mentioned before with floating interest rates where budgets are tight and everything.

The companies can really raise rates at a rate that they used to two and three years ago during COVID. So the rate increases are reduced. There's only two ways to make money with a property.

One is to increase your income by increasing rates and auxiliary income. And then one is to keep expenses in check or maybe reducing them. So the biggest controllable expense is going to be, as we all know, is going to be maintenance.

So having qualified people doing a great job, saving companies money, that's going to make a difference and put us on a board right there, put us in a spotlight as trade professionals, as important as we are. So I think that's the opportunity for us as an industry this year. I spoke about it earlier.

[Mark] (1:18:51 - 1:19:13) I'm extremely grateful and fortunate to work with a company that does value all of the employees but does definitely see the value in our maintenance teams. Very appreciative of that. The last thing that I'll...

I mean, I have some other questions. I know that these are limited in time. So I just wanted to ask both of you what you would like to be remembered for.

[Jason] (1:19:14 - 1:19:59) The fella who taught my CPO and EPA, he changed the trajectory of my projected income for the rest of my life, not just by a little bit, by a ton. And I know that he's gone all over the country doing that. Basically changing people's lives, giving them a better opportunity to provide for their family.

And that's something I want to emulate. And when I teach this EPA course, it's very near and dear to me because I understand that this may just be a certification to their property manager or their boss or whatever. But this gives their people opportunity to practically make considerably more money, at least in my area.

I want to be remembered as somebody who gave them an opportunity. I want to help these guys. I want to be remembered as somebody who gave them a hand.

[Adrian] (1:19:59 - 1:20:51) I think I'd like to be remembered for the person that left the places he's been into a little better than he found. That's a desire of mine. I hope that that's going to be the case.

The little bit that I could touch someone's life. Of course, we don't know how many people we're going to touch when it's all said and done. But if I could make a difference in one person's life, that's sufficient for me.

I hope that that's not the case just for one person. But again, I think the main thing is if people would remember me as someone that left the places where I've been in a better way than they were when I first got there. Mark, this has been an amazing conversation.

It's been a real pleasure having you interview us. I thought that was amazing. That was an amazing idea.

So Jason and I went for it immediately. I'd like to give you the opportunity to share some final thoughts.

[Mark] (1:20:51 - 1:21:10) I appreciate what you're doing with your platform, with your podcast. I think it's very helpful and insightful. People are enjoying it as well.

I try to catch it when I can and go back and watch some of the ones that I miss. I appreciate Jason getting to know meet you and know you as well.

[Jason] (1:21:10 - 1:21:20) Jason, any final thoughts? It was fantastic to learn a little bit more about you. And it was definitely, definitely not what I expected to get interviewed.

That was that was cool. I like that.

[Adrian] (1:21:21 - 1:21:49) I'm glad you were able to be here. Everybody, thank you very much for watching another episode of Multifamily X podcasts. This was a different episode, right?

This was the episode where the guests turned the tables on us and interviewed us, which is amazing. I think it was an amazing idea. I want to thank our partners from AppWork for making this podcast possible.

We hope to see you back here soon. Have an amazing rest of your day. Take care.