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Creating a Positive Legacy with Respect, Empathy, and Dedication

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Inside the Pod System
RELEASED ON 3/29/24

Adrian, Luisa, and Doug talk about the value of teamwork, resilience, and a service-oriented mindset in the maintenance industry.

[Adrian] (0:23 - 0:45) Hello everybody and welcome to another episode of Multifamily X podcasts, Masters of Maintenance. I'm your host Adrian Danila and today's podcast is powered by PyroSwatter and Apple. They are making this broadcast possible.

With this being said, I want to turn it over to my co-host Luisa Luperdi. Louisa, take it away.

[Luisa] (0:45 - 1:01) Hello everyone. Hope everyone's having an amazing beginning of the week. We certainly are excited to have our guest of the day, our maintenance master at work, Doug Geiken.

Welcome Doug. How are you doing? Pleasure to have you.

[Doug] (1:01 - 1:05) Thank you. It's great to be here. Great to have this time to talk with you guys.

[Luisa] (1:05 - 1:37) We're super excited. So I'm very, very excited about this because you actually kind of blend two topics that are very, very passionate topics of mine, which is operations, maintenance, and training. So I know there are guests who are really going to be excited to hear a lot of what you have to share with us today.

So I'd like to start with the first official question. Can you share with us your journey in the maintenance industry, from your beginnings in commercial maintenance to your current role as regional maintenance manager at Louis Companies?

[Doug] (1:37 - 3:24) As you can tell by the color of my hair, I've been in the business for quite a while now. Back in the early 80s, I actually went to Bowtech school for air conditioning refrigeration and ended up mostly working in the plumbing industry for a while. Moved down to Orlando, Florida and did maintenance and took care of troubled kids in Orlando, Florida for about seven years.

Then moved back to Sioux Falls and hired on with a company called Good Samaritan Society, which was a national firm that had elderly care and worked with them for 26 years in the main office, which consisted of three buildings and about a million square foot. We had 22,000 employees nationwide and 240 nursing homes. So I worked in that system, like I said, for 26 years.

Worked primarily in the HVAC side of it, which was mostly computerized. For many of you that have been in it, I worked in the medicine system of Johnson Control, which has long been removed since then. Worked into the train VAS system with VFD drives and variable air volume boxes.

Then the company started to slide and a local medical field took it over and with a lot of layoffs. Because of that, I was looking outside of where I was and came along with white companies. Ended up moving into the residential side of it.

I started off being a lead for a group of three guys. After about a year, the gentleman that had my position stepped out and asked if I would put my name into the hat. And seven years later, here I am as the regional maintenance manager for Lloyd Companies.

[Adrian] (3:25 - 3:32) Tell us about the seven years, right? You just started as a regional director with Lloyd or was it a different position? Was not, right?

Right.

[Doug] (3:33 - 4:18) So when I came on, they were toying with putting in what we call pods or teams, some people call them. At that time, most of our people or techs were answering or supervised by property managers. And so I was a team lead and we had about four properties with three guys.

So that went for about, I suppose a year, maybe year and a half. And we were fairly successful. I luckily had two great guys I worked with.

I've been blessed with the ability to kind of see where the strong points are in people. So it was very well balanced. And so when the gentleman that had my position was leaving, he asked me if I would put my name in.

And like crazy, they accepted me.

[Adrian] (4:19 - 4:41) So would you like to elaborate a little bit about the type of assets that your company is managing? Are they owned and managed? Are they third-party managed?

Is it a combination? And how many? Where are they geographically, right?

Lloyd not being a national company, I like for you to just kind of give us some insight right into the audience. I think it'd be very helpful to just kind of put you all on the map.

[Doug] (4:41 - 5:17) So Lloyd Companies is in the upper Midwest. We're located primarily in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, but we have properties across South Dakota and through Iowa. Presently, we're at about 10,000 units.

We have 122 properties. We have a sister company that handles a lot of our smaller properties called We have a group of maintenance techs for them. And I'm not quite sure where they're at.

They're probably at about 1200 units roughly. We have quite a vast group of people. I think we're right now close to just about 60 maintenance techs on board.

And we're growing quick.

[Luisa] (5:17 - 5:38) That sounds amazing. And it sounds like a busy, busy workload. What motivated you to transition from commercial maintenance to residential property management?

It's kind of like in the same vicinity, right? But multifamily so particular, I really want to know what motivated you to make that jump and put your name in the hat, like you said, like, what drove that?

[Doug] (5:38 - 6:33) So like I said, they did a lot of layoffs in our company when they took over with the new medical firm that's in Sioux Falls. And I just really didn't want to work for them. And one of the gentlemen that was laid off with us went to Lloyd companies and convinced me to come over and try it.

I'll be really honest, when I went into it, I thought, Nope, this isn't going to last. I'm not going to stay here long going in people's homes. And compared to what it was in commercial side of all office buildings, it takes a special breed.

It takes a special person that wants to be in property management. And thankfully, I kind of got the hang of it and enjoyed the team I was working with. And then this opportunity came and I have probably one of the best bosses in the world, actually, is our VP and is very proactive in helping the maintenance side of things.

So it's kind of meshed really well.

[Adrian] (6:33 - 6:58) Your company does something a little different than most management companies, right? So I want to touch on that, because I'm very, very interested in how that model works. So could you tell us more about the transition you spearheaded from a manager supervised maintenance team to a maintenance managed team at your company, at Lloyd companies?

So when I took this job, we kind of were hemorrhaging a lot of techs.

[Doug] (6:58 - 9:26) We were going through them quickly, losing them to other companies, to other types of positions. And so one of the questions I started asking as we were losing people is why are you leaving? What's the cause for you stepping out of your position?

And the big one seemed to be they didn't want to be managed by a person that had no idea about maintenance. They were tired of being under a manager. They felt like there was nowhere to move within the company.

At that time, it was you were a maintenance tech, or you were the maintenance supervisor. And there was nothing else. Like I said, I worked with my boss and a couple of the other regionals.

Once I took on the supervisory role to set up all of our people in what we call pods, we geographically looked at where all of our properties were in Sioux Falls and set them up so that three to five properties, six depending on size, will be part of a pod, you would have a pod lead, and then you would have three to four guys depending on the amount of units within that pod. That person then at the time answered to me. Since that we've grown, we've added positions.

And now I can say that we have a maintenance and training position. So we can hire somebody on with little to no training. We have a maintenance tech or maintenance professional position, then they can move up to a team lead.

We have three maintenance managers. One is a preventive maintenance manager. One is a maintenance manager in training.

And the other one is our Iowa maintenance manager. And then myself as the regional. What we've noticed over the last few years is our retention has been amazing.

We are losing so many less people. They like the idea that they are working with a maintenance person that knows what they're doing. And there's a place to grow.

We are recently I think we're at 10 pod leads now. I have just recently have gotten all of our outer market now also into the pod system. So none of our maintenance actually answers to any property managers.

They all answer to a maintenance person. That being said, we have also over the last few years have had to do a lot of redoing with communication between how things are set up with the maintenance managers and with how we work with our multi-site managers and regional managers to make sure our communication is constant. What we're finding is our people are more satisfied.

They're leaving less. They feel like they have a voice. For us, it's worked very well.

[Luisa] (9:27 - 9:58) So inspiring to hear because you really led a team in a company and built something that works. I think that you created a culture in Lloyd with that listening to your teams. And I want to know more.

The whole setup sounds so interesting to me being in multifamily being in operations myself as a regional manager. How has this shift impacted the efficiency and the effectiveness of overall maintenance operations? You kind of gave us a little bit.

I want more. And my audience wants to know more. So curious.

[Doug] (9:58 - 12:10) With our setup, which, by the way, did not happen overnight. This is taking us probably four solid years of working in this system. Just recently, I think the last two guys in our Sioux Falls region, which is our largest group of units, just joined into a pod.

I would say overall, the big thing has been communication. Our guys now have somebody to go to. One of the great things too, it was always a scramble on if somebody was leaving for vacation, or they were out for a holiday.

Who do you get to cover in their property? Now everything within a pod has somebody there to cover it. Also within the pods, we're very safety conscious.

We don't want any of our guys moving anything heavy without help. They don't have to try to get somebody from another area or contact me or a manager and say I need help with something. They have somebody directly to go to.

They have a group that is on their side and on their call all the time. It's made an amazing difference for our guys as far as having somebody there as a friend. We're seeing a lot of our groups actually go out for a drink together.

They hang together. Their families get together, which has just been amazing to me. I'm kind of a people person.

I always joke with my boss that I'm the world's worst maintenance person because I don't like to maintain things. I like to do new and different things. This has been very inspiring just for myself because I've been able to work with so many different individuals.

I will say if this is a system you ever try to put in, you definitely have to watch personalities. It's an ongoing type of system. We're always watching to see if you bring in a new tech personality wise if they work with their group.

If they can't work with the group, we can move them to another group that might work better. Budget wise, this has been a big help because we can get more units per person because we can divide out the time better. Our properties, I feel, look the best they've ever looked when it comes to work orders or current or make readies.

We seem to be able to be more effective in getting those done too.

[Adrian] (12:10 - 12:49) Part of what we try to do here on the podcast is to shine a light on amazing initiatives that are actually working. I don't want to take a side and just say maintenance centralization doesn't work just because I want it to be that way. I have a strong belief that if initiatives that are showing the other way around are successful, I really want to bring them into the public eye so maybe more companies will get inspired by copying these successful initiatives.

Are these pods made out of whatever number of people overseeing more than one property?

[Doug] (12:50 - 14:37) We have a pod lead who answers. We have them divided out amongst different managers so that everybody has a few people under them. We can keep better contact with them.

We do one-on-ones on a regular basis. From there, they will have a group of individuals. A lot of times, the people stay on their property, so to say.

If there's four properties and we have three or four maintenance techs, which would include the lead, the lead still does all the same things as if our maintenance tech would do, but they would make sure that the team is keeping up with everything. They check time cards. They do all those little things.

They're the main contact between property managers. We have what we call a multi-site manager, similar to how we set up our system. You have the regional and you have a multi-site that will have numerous properties.

We have our team leads meet with them on a regular basis so that they can touch bases on budget, things in the property that need to be accomplished with just work orders or terms, or if there's a capital expense project coming up, they can touch bases with that. It gives us a lot more diversification and it gives our guys the ability to move within their pod to keep everything working right. As far as centralization, we've geographically set it up so that there isn't a lot of moving.

They may be on the southwest part of town and even on the southwest, we may have two different pods so that there's a minimal amount of travel time. It's worked well doing that. Sometimes I feel like maybe we need to make our pods a little bit larger, but in doing so then we might also have a lead who has to do a lot more travel time between places.

As far as we are right now, it's working very well.

[Adrian] (14:37 - 15:03) When it comes to how the money is being spent, who is ultimately the person that says, we will be spending the money on this project, or we'll be buying this AC system, or we will not be buying, or we try to refurbish? Who is ultimately responsible for making, for approving those expenses, whether they're just regular day-to-day expenses or capital type expenses?

[Doug] (15:03 - 16:31) I would say that most of the day-to-day type expenses are worked out between the team leads and the multi-sites on the property. If it's a capital expense, it'll probably go to a regional for final approval. But what we've noticed with the way we're doing things, that the maintenance professionals, techs, and team leads have a lot more say, and they can also see more of what's going on with the budget.

When it was a property manager, basically being the supervisor to a tech, budget was never a thing. Our guys never knew what the budget was. They didn't know how they were affecting the budget.

Initiative for this year has been very much more communication on budget. Unfortunately, occupancy isn't as good as it was in the last couple of years, so we're really being more budget-minded. Economy in the Sioux Falls area never really seems to go down a lot, but we are noticing with high interest rates and stuff like that, and the price of rent occupancy is down.

So our initiative this year is that all maintenance leads and multi-site managers must meet weekly to at least hit the top, maybe five or six points on budget, make sure that we're staying where we need to. And then monthly, we go through the bulk of everything in budgets with them. So that way they can trickle it down to the maintenance techs, and it's less time where everybody's going to meetings, but yet we're covering all the So interesting.

[Luisa] (16:31 - 16:53) It's like creating a whole separate branch inside multifamily on-site operations. I'm still processing that. I want to be part of one of your pods.

FYI Doug. Come on. How do you approach building a career path for maintenance technicians within your company structure at Lloyd, within the Lloyd companies?

[Doug] (16:53 - 18:41) We've, I think, created a good career path. Our goal within the next, I think it's six to seven years, we should double in size. I keep looking at our spreadsheets and the amount of properties that are coming on board, both in the west side of South Dakota and into Iowa.

We're in the Des Moines, Iowa area. That's growing like crazy. We'll end up having to add more positions on and probably, especially in the manager side of things, we're going to probably have to add there.

So the guys at least have a good path. One of the great things with this pod too is that because we've been able to bring in so many guys that have no maintenance experience, we're finding that when we hire, I don't look much at their maintenance experience anymore. And we can talk a little bit later about the training center.

We are literally able to bring them on board. Our training center has an onboarding area now to where we, once HR is done with them, we bring them in here. I have a new employee starting today.

He's with HR. But for the next couple of days, he'll be here with our maintenance manager. That's also our trainer.

And so we can get them on boarded with all of our systems and our apps. And we can start doing our training on everything from appliances to electrical to HVAC. And so they can move up from there.

Once they get experience, we can have them move up into the maintenance leads or the managers. And they can also move laterally. Right now we have a preventive maintenance manager.

So we become much more proactive with that so that our property's budgets, we can look at 2, 3, 5, 10 years and take care of that. We also have a manager in training. We have an outer market manager.

So even if they move up, they can move laterally too. So I think we've given them a good stepping stone for a career. And I think that's also helped tremendously with our retention.

[Adrian] (18:41 - 19:24) This is like gold for, you know, for me. I'm sure for Lisa too, because you know, like she's done training. It's part of what her heart is, right?

In training and developing. So I want to start to, you know, I want to go back a little bit, right? What made you start this program?

And then after you tell us about the rationale, you know, why did you start it? I want to get into more detail about how it works besides like just the onboarding and the first two days. Like what is the extent of your in-house training program?

Like what does it entail? What can someone expect entirely from the in-house program that you have?

[Doug] (19:24 - 23:27) A big joke with my wife has been for years that doesn't seem like I can walk into a hardware store or a lumber yard without somebody asking me how to do something. And we've always joked that, I don't know, I must have that look like I know what I'm doing because I never understand it. But we've always joked that I would love to start a help center in a lumber yard or something like that, where people question, hey, how do I do something?

I'd love to tell you what I know. Right after COVID, we had a fairly large warehouse slash shop area where people could come and check out tools that maybe the property didn't have on hand. A couple of people were officed here in the mezzanine area and it ended up being a junk area.

And I went to my boss and I said, I would love to start a training center in there. She was on board, loved the idea, said have at it. So myself and both managers basically cleaned out this area.

And I had a vision of what I wanted in it. And I asked my managers, one has got great vendor relationships with HVAC or HVAC supplier, and one is predominantly appliances. And I asked them if they could go to them and see if we could get good used equipment to train on.

Much to our surprise, our vendors jumped on with both feet and said, no, we want to donate all brand new equipment. So we stripped and fixed walls and painted the color scheme. I've got a vinyl cutter, so I cut wording out.

And it's quite nice looking. I'm very proud of it. I love training.

I love teaching people. So we at present are able to teach everything from electrical. We have a full line of appliances.

We have plumbing. We have HVAC, full air conditioners. We're actually starting now with a vendor to teach our guys painting, drywall repair.

That being said, when we start a new employee, we do their onboarding, getting them all set up here in the training center with what they need to know for apps, what apps are available. Everything that we use, we get them onboarded and at least getting started with that. Also, what I didn't mention too, with our systems with the team lead, when it comes to training, it gives them somebody to shadow.

So with the pod system, they can move around and people with maybe better painting knowledge or better HVAC knowledge, they can work with them for a short period of time or long, whatever it takes to learn specific items also. But in our training center, we have recommended and training that they have to do. Our manager that deals with training sets up schedules.

If they're a new employee, they must attend the training. We do refresher courses. So if we're getting into spring, we know our conditioning is coming up.

We do refresher courses. One of the other things I didn't, I failed to mention is our vendors have also donated their techs and some of their, our HVAC has a guy that is, anybody that's out in the field, he's kind of the all-knowledgeable guy that they call. He actually comes in and does training for our guys too at no cost to us.

Our appliance techs have come in and done training for our guys. We do in-house training also. I don't know of anything we're not touching on as far as training, but one of the big things that I'm pushing this year too is something I think that is kind of failed in our industry is just teaching how to troubleshoot.

So many guys are YouTube and Google guys and that's wonderful, but I don't want parts hangers. I want guys that know how things work and can figure out how to troubleshoot. So we're really pushing the troubleshooting training so that they know how to figure things out.

And I think we've kind of done well with having everything covered in training. Plus we still have that option of having them out in the field with a team lead or another tech that can help teach them.

[Luisa] (23:27 - 24:42) It sounds like you have a very robust training program coming from a training background like Adrian mentioned and that's really where my heart and passion is. I always believe that having the time to come up with a training program that's going to suffice both the expectations of the job but also the fulfillment of a professional in growth. I think that's quite admirable to tell you the truth.

And you answered my next question which was what type of resources and training programs do you offer? But you pretty much mentioned it's a well-rounded multifaceted and very diverse set of skill sets that you're encountering within your courses including on-the-job training with a type of mentorship program with a shadowing component. How has the creation of all this in the training center transformed the way Lloyd Companies recruits and develops maintenance talent?

I mean we know the answer is obviously going to be something that's amazing but I want to know how this change must have changed the culture internally and probably helped your recruitment and like you said your maintenance efforts in retention.

[Doug] (24:42 - 28:07) So when I first took this position most definitely we had to look for somebody with experience because once they were hired on they were put on the property very little interaction with anybody else. Their supervisor was a property manager. Most of them had little to no knowledge of maintenance.

It seemed like we were just losing people too quickly. They didn't like that there wasn't that team setting. I will say Lloyd overall has a marvelous culture.

We love our people. We want them to be better at everything they do in life both professionally and personally and they very much push that. I've always been a proponent for maintenance anyway because I've been in it.

There is a TV show called The Zoo I think it was called and it was about it's kind of a documentary but it was a you know normal type weekly show and it was about the Bronx Zoo. Introduction to the show was done by the guy who runs the Bronx Zoo and he said if you ask any child to draw a picture of the zoo they're going to draw a picture of an animal behind bars and he said I want to change that perception of what people feel is a zoo. I feel the same way about maintenance.

If you ask most people what is a maintenance person they give you the same picture of the guy that was in Friends who had all gray outfit with a big ring of keys on and he was kind of stupid and he only did things when he felt like it and it really bothered me. With our systems it's kind of my hope to make things better but my son is a licensed plumber and I showed him the training center. He plums all over Sioux Falls and does an amazing job and when he saw the training center he says I wish they have this for the average homeowner because he said there's so many things I can do plumbing wise but I don't know how to do all the things your guys do and he said it would be so nice to have and they thought that's the ticket.

People don't realize how much knowledge a maintenance tech has to have and so that kind of inspired the whole idea of training and the whole idea of I mean it was always there but it really made me think we need to really expand on this. How it's changed us. I had the great opportunity to talk at the NAACP conference in Atlanta last year and it was partially about this but one of the things I had said at the time is we hired three, I think it was three of our guys at that time came from a car wash company here in Sioux Falls.

None of them had any maintenance experience and came on board and have turned out to be tremendous employees but we had to train them in our systems, we had to train them in our ways. Of those two those are already leads. Since then we've added two more car wash techs that have no idea how to do maintenance but because of our training program have turned out to be amazing and we're just so thankful for them.

That's probably our biggest change is very seldom do I look for just experience anymore. I'm more looking at a personality, I'm more looking at how are they going to work within our team. I look at their way they do things and immediately try to assess what group of people could I put them with that they would work best with and it's been amazing.

The change has been great. Like I said our group of guys, the pods, have become friends. They go out together.

There's just so much more of a culture than we could have ever got if we were just looking for experience.

[Adrian] (28:07 - 28:58) Can you give us insight on your current training timeline for starting non-experienced techs to fully HVAC certified and not just certified because we know EPA is just a prerequisite. It doesn't really give you the knowledge of troubleshooting but for someone to be able to do at least like the basic troubleshooting. How did you create this timeline and then was it based on personal industry knowledge?

Clearly sounds like it has been a hugely successful program. Walk us through getting someone that's really green, never done a part of a maintenance before or maybe they've done a couple of things that are related to maintenance but not really a part of a maintenance. How do you get them from there?

Welcome to your program. Follow me please. What do you expect from them when they graduate?

[Doug] (28:59 - 30:53) I would say I don't know if we have a specific timeline. Most of what we bring on right now has been the gentleman that's joining us tomorrow has no maintenance experience. We just loved him.

We thought he'd fit in great. So with him coming on board, I would say training wise it's going to be a good solid six months. Within three months I'm hoping to see a big change in how they attack.

They should be calling less. They should be checking less. They should be taking the initiative to do things.

If I'm looking at a timeline within a year I think everybody who's been through our system should be able to do most everything in the maintenance field. As far as an HVAC certification, we don't do that because we limit our guys and what they can do just for liability sake. We don't allow our guys to do any soldering and or brazing.

There's been fire issues so we've kind of taken that out of the realm. And Sioux Falls is plumbing wise has a lot of things. We can't switch out a hot water heater.

It has to be a licensed plumber. We are looking now that we've got our systems in place. If that's something we want to expand to where we bring in you know maybe a small group of licensed plumbers and we use them throughout the properties.

We haven't totally figured out how we want to do that yet. But on the whole the basics for everything that we do I can't imagine within a year they don't know everything they need to know. I mean there's always stuff we're learning.

There's things changing. Appliances changing. I look back at refrigerators in the last 10 years and change night and day.

You can't fix as many things as you'd like to fix anymore. I call it the Bic Lighter Syndrome. It seems like we get these manufactured and the only thing you can do is throw away and put a new one in.

I'm really looking to my guys to have all the knowledge that they need to have within a year.

[Luisa] (30:53 - 31:20) How do you are in this process and even going back before actually having someone step into your training center back into the recruitment process maybe. How do you identify talent and determine who is the best candidate to invest in? Training is such an investment.

How have you been able to pick up on trends that have helped you successfully pinpoint maintenance talent or is it more complex than what it seems?

[Doug] (31:20 - 32:55) We are very blessed. We have two recruiters on board that are amazing. Briar who is our main one who has worked with me a lot does amazing when it comes to looking at an applicant.

Having that first initial talk with them to see if this is something we want to even move forward. Once that's done I'll usually do an interview with them. We do have an assessment we have them take that gives us an idea of their basic verbal and math skills and also their personality type.

It's fairly simple. It's kind of a yes or no. I always joke.

I said there's no right or wrong answer. It just gives us an idea. I put very little stock in that unless of course they're way off the chart.

It's something that we go no no not even going any farther. A lot of what I would say that really brings me to somebody is the person's personality. The questions we've come up with for interviews have changed a lot over the last three years basically because we no longer are looking specifically for that experience.

I'm looking for what the person is like, how they handle situations. A lot of our questions will have to do with as simple as who is your best supervisor you've ever had and why. Is this person going to fit within our culture?

Is this person going to fit into a specific group that we're looking for? That's kind of how we've hired and it's gone well with us. We've had a few hiccups because in an interview you can only learn so much about a person but on the whole we've had very good success with it.

All in all I can say our groups are probably stronger than they've ever been.

[Adrian] (32:56 - 33:06) What advice would you have for a young person that's trying to enter the multifamily maintenance field? What are some great pieces of advice that you know you would have to share with them?

[Doug] (33:07 - 34:56) We in Lloyd Companies actually have something we call the mentor mentee program. I didn't sign up for it but unfortunately my boss signed me up for it. So I have a mentee and he's a gentleman that has come into the field with little to no experience and he kind of asked me the same question.

Surround yourself with people that make you better but also surround people that probably have the strengths that you don't so that as a team you can accomplish a lot. I've been very blessed with the people I've worked with. One of the things I've noticed as I'm getting to the end of my career if I'm working with the people that I enjoy working with I can accomplish so much more.

One of the things I've said to people that have been leaving us is I want you to be happy. Don't stay here if you're not happy. Because you're not going to do the job we need you to do.

You're gonna affect the people you're working side by side with and you're gonna affect the residents. And so what we want is people that are here because they enjoy the people they work with. It's a very taxing job.

Maintenance can be very stressful. I'm not saying property management isn't also on the manager's side but you're in people's homes. They're mad at you because something isn't working but they're also the reason we do it and it's amazing when you do fix something for somebody who's appreciative.

That feeling you get. But I would say always work with somebody you admire. Somebody that pushes you.

Somebody that's going to make your weaknesses stronger. I always laugh when I see somebody who has hashtag lifelong learner. I don't think anybody can't be a lifelong learner.

You have to learn constantly. Our world is changing constantly. Working with people is always a struggle but always look for those people that strengthen you and they'll bring you down.

[Luisa] (34:56 - 35:49) I appreciate that so much. Lifelong learning. I totally believe that if we don't really see the importance of continuous learning and development I think we're lacking a little bit of self-awareness in my experience.

In my opinion as well. That is a great kind of introduction to my next question. The multifamily industry is changing.

We know that. We have a lot of technology integration of tech in every single angle that we can. And from the maintenance operations perspective, I'd like to know what are the best technology advances that have helped maintenance operations in your opinion and why?

And do you see the need for additional tech to be integrated into on-site maintenance operations? And the third part even further, how do we change in ensuring that seasoned maintenance professionals accept and learn how to use the new virtual tools?

[Doug] (35:49 - 39:09) I actually sat down with one of my managers and we just talked about a few things that I was going to talk about on this podcast. And they said, I'm not the best techie guy there is. He's younger and much more tech savvy.

And they said, what do you look for for something that we can use in the tech side of things? One of the things he brought up was something new in the Yardi system that we use. And it integrates all of our terms and our call map systems.

And it pre-fills in for work orders. So we have to spend less time putting anything in the system. Unfortunately, we're not using it yet, but we're just kind of looking into it to see if it's something that we want to use.

One of our vendors, a young gentleman, which is very impressive, he has come up with an AI system that helps you troubleshoot. So you can basically like a flowchart, you can put in my refrigerator doesn't work and it'll ask you questions. It doesn't do this or that.

And it basically will bring it down to where, hey, this is probably what your problem is, which I think is amazing, especially for newer, younger people or something you've never worked on. We always have Google. We always have YouTube.

I'm a YouTube fanatic. The only problem I see with some of those is it's created parts hangers and not troubleshooters. What I don't want is guys to instantly think, oh, hey, this guy on YouTube did this.

And now this is how you fix it. Because that may not be the issue. I have seen the virtual training tools.

I'm old school. I like my hands on items. That's one of the reasons we have all the equipment we have here.

I'm ADHD. I don't sit still very well. And my mind goes crazy all over the place.

But if I think if I've got my hands on something, it seems I always joke if you're ADHD, you're the guy for me, because it seems like a lot of techs have to constantly be on the move. And I love that. But I also think they learn best with their hands on something.

I think there is a place for the virtual trainers. But I also know that a lot of my guys will say, hey, I didn't realize I had to do this and this to get to where I needed to be. AI is kind of our anything techie is a little bit foreign to me.

I mean, we have our phones, we use our phones, we do turn sheets, make readies are all done online now. That's awesome. We can have input from managers and not just ourselves.

Or we used to have the old turn boards in the shop and somebody would lay it on them. It's much more integrated now. So I think there's a lot of stuff coming down the line.

That's good. I also think there's a lot of stuff that's out there that may be more time consuming than it's worth. As far as adding techs on specifically for that, I think it's something we need to look at.

I think it's something that's going to be the future. You're still never going to be able to replace the tech that one on one with a resident. We've noticed that even on the manager side, when you get a lot of automatic call systems going, that sometimes you lose that personal one on one with the person, the resident that's coming in.

We've noticed kind of going back away from some of that has helped our occupancy where we're getting more people in because we're talking to them. And you get that personal attachment and people like that. Yeah, there's a lot of stuff coming out and I'm kind of anxious to see what all does come out.

Probably the world's worst to ask about tech type stuff.

[Adrian] (39:09 - 39:22) We're only around for a limited period of time or argue that a short period of time, whether it's at work or in life in general. I want to talk about legacy next. How would you like to be remembered?

[Doug] (39:23 - 40:52) I would go back to my father. My father owned a garbage business for 40 years. It was just him and Sioux Falls at the time was probably 200,000, maybe a little bit less when he was busy.

The one thing my father did well was he treated everybody equally. Didn't matter skin color. It didn't matter your financial status.

And my father was known all over town and loved all over town because he didn't care if you were homeless or you had multi millions in the bank. He respected you and treated you that way. And that's what I'm hoping people take from me.

I do love people. I try to always be empathetic. Sometimes I work with people that say, oh, let's fire him.

We're not doing this or that. I'd rather find out why they're not doing it. Is it something we're failing them with?

I'm hoping that when I'm gone and I'm out of this, it's probably going to be sooner than later that people say, hey, he made a difference because he cared about the person. And that's where I'm at. I love people.

So I want to see everybody succeed. I unfortunately had a gentleman a while back that sometimes maybe I poured too much into a person. He just didn't make it.

And when we had to let him go, he surprisingly came up and gave me a hug and thanked me. And it just took me back. Almost brought a tear to my eye and I thought, well, at least I tried.

So as far as a legacy, that's kind of what I'm hoping. I don't care if anybody thinks he did a great job in maintenance. But I just want people to say, hey, he liked people.

He respected people and he treated people decently.

[Luisa] (40:52 - 41:45) That's beautiful. I think you're creating your legacy right now in the present moment. And I'm more than sure that that hug and that action probably is a common feeling throughout the people that have encountered you in their career path.

Very, very happy to hear that. The journey to the top could feel lonely at times. We definitely know that.

Is that how you felt at your journey or where you are right now? How did you overcome the feeling of loneliness or emptiness, let's say at times when you look where you are today, and you created something beautiful, but you're up there on your own. A lot of people are looking forward and looking towards you looking up at you.

And sometimes we need support, too. How do you feel being at your turning point, looking at the rest of the environment and your awesome individuals that you work alongside with when you're up there on your own?

[Doug] (41:45 - 42:43) I would say yes, sometimes it does feel like you're by yourself, especially maintenance, because I look at the manager side of things. And my company treats me like gold. I can never complain about that.

But there's one regional manager in maintenance, and there's five or six in the manager side of it. And so sometimes you feel like you're kind of heading into a windstorm because they are together in their mindset. And sometimes I come in from a different angle.

But I will say, as I said before, surround yourself with people that make you better. I work very closely with my two managers in Sioux Falls. I think they can read me pretty good.

They'll notice, hey, he needs a little bit of extra in his life right now. I'm a joker and I'm a laugher. And so that makes my day go well.

I find humor in the goofiest stuff. Yeah, sometimes I would say you do feel lonely. But I think you know, you have to rest on your beliefs and the people that surround you.

And I think if you surround yourself by the right people, they'll lift you up.

[Adrian] (42:44 - 42:53) That's super amazing conversation today. I really, really, really enjoyed our chat. I want to give you the opportunity to share some final thoughts with us and with the audience.

[Doug] (42:53 - 43:56) I would say if you're in multifamily, it's a taxing job dealing with the people dealing with each other sometimes. But I think keeping everything in perspective of why you're doing what you're doing. One of our things is improving people's lives is part of our mantra here.

And I really feel like you have to remember that on days when you walk into a turn and the people have put holes in the doors and their cats have urinated on the carpet and you have all that to do and you just get tired of it. You have to remember why you're doing it. And that's for the next people that come in.

So we want to make it look wonderful for the other person. But it's also your co workers. How can you improve their lives?

How can you help them on a day to day basis? You always have to remember who you're doing it for why you're doing it. And that's basically what it comes down to if you're doing it for yourself.

I'm sorry, this probably isn't the business you want to be in. If you're remembering that you're doing it for that resident, you're doing it for the co worker, you're just doing it to help people better their lives. I think your days are going to be a lot better.

[Adrian] (43:57 - 43:58) Louisa, any final thoughts?

[Luisa] (43:58 - 44:38) I think you're doing an amazing job, not just at Lloyd companies, but in the multifamily industry as a whole. Doug, it's really inspiring. Sometimes we need that extra perspective, especially coming from the admin operation, going into maintenance operations, a lot more respect and acknowledgement for the hard work put into place to be able to offer these housing opportunities for our residents, that we should be striving to give them the best that they can have as far as their living experience.

And like I said, again, I think you're already living up to your legacy expectations. It was great to meet you, Doug.

[Adrian] (44:38 - 45:01) Great to meet you. Thank you, Doug. Thank you so much for being with us today.

I want to thank our sponsors from AppWork and Cairo's Water for making this broadcast possible. You just watched another episode of Multifamily X Broadcast, Masters of Maintenance. I'm Adrian Danila, your host, and with me right here, my co-host, Louisa Luperdi.

We hope to see you back here soon. Have an amazing day.