By Kathy Danforth / Published April 2017
Editor’s Note: There were nine 2016 Managers of Excellence. To read about the six Women Managers of Excellence, turn to page 36 in the November 2016 issue or visit pubs.royle.com/publication/?i=355672.
The path to community association management can be quite varied, as the men recognized as Managers of Excellence for 2016 demonstrate. These assorted paths are quite appropriate, since their challenges are also diverse, and association management brings tasks from many different fields each day. Each manager’s job does involve similarities—hard work, attention to people, and commitment to doing what is best for the community. David Givney of Island Walk, Wilfredo Lopez of Venetian Condominium, and John Kline with Bellaggio Residents Association have been recognized for their success in serving their communities well, and each shares some of his story.
The following questions were posed to each of the three men who were 2016 Managers of Excellence winners. The questions are listed in the order which they will be answered below by these Managers of Excellence.
1. What is a hot topic in community association management and how will it affect communities in 2017?
2. What did you do before you became a CAM?
3. Why did you decide to become a CAM?
4. What is the professional achievement you are proudest of?
5. What is the personal achievement you are proudest of?
6. What is the most challenging thing about your job?
7. What is the most rewarding thing about your job?
8. Who has been your biggest influence professionally, and how has this person influenced you?
9. Who has been your biggest influence personally, and how has this person influenced you?
10. What words of advice would you give to a new CAM?
11. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
12. What is your most effective stress reliever?
13. Who would you pick to sit down and have lunch with, and why would you pick this individual?
14. What one word would you use to describe yourself?
1. One of our hot topics is irrigation and Phase I restrictions. In Collier County, we are under a Phase 1 water restriction, which cuts down the number of days, hours, and gallons that can be used by the HOA to irrigate. This poses a problem on many fronts, so we are seeking xeriscape alternatives as well as cutting down water requirements by using Florida native plants, removing certain areas of sod, and addressing xeriscape going forward.
2. Before becoming a CAM, I had worked in several different industries as I was still unsure what I wanted to do with my life. I have worked in ballroom dance instruction and competition, health care, and apartment leasing, and finally in community association management.
3. I became a CAM because I like to solve problems and enjoy a good challenge. In the apartment industry, there are challenges, but not too many that are not day-to-day concerns. Within the CAM field of work, there are challenges each and every day that require education and an open mind. I like to be able to also look at a community I work for and over the months and years see great progress and make the community stable.
4. For the last two years, I have been able to receive finalist, winner, and manager of the year with the Communities of Excellence program.
5. Being the first child in my family to go to college and being able to give back to my family.
6. This community had been neglected for some time. Since we came to the community in 2016, we have been able to restore many areas, and we continue to enhance the community.
7. When you have that moment where a resident thanks you for the good job you have done.
8. Lee Gouny of KW Property Management has been a great influence. She always pushes me to continue to try and always builds up her staff. She offers great options and will get in the trenches with you any time. This is the mark of a true coworker, boss, and friend.
9. My grandmother before her passing. From the time I was a small child, she would always treat everyone with respect, build up our family, solve problems, and support me. She made it a point to always let me know I can be anything I put my mind to and shared the importance of making sure I always helped people and showed respect.
10. Never take anything personally! When you are dealing with an aggressive or upset resident, take the personal part out and understand that the resident is just as frustrated as you may be. Be empathetic and sympathetic, but hold your ground on certain subjects.
11. I enjoy exploring national parks and sports.
12. My most effective stress reliever is walking in the park and listening to my music.
13. My grandmother. I would love to be able to show her the person I have come to be today and how her energy, love, and life lessons helped me.
1. Aging members and aging facilities. As the manager of a 55+ community, I have concerns about aspects of the aging of the members of the association. We must be attuned to the needs of the future with regards to safety, activities, and the physical assets to accommodate the members as they get older.
2. Most of my life was spent in the insurance industry. I owned my own insurance agency for many years before selling it and moving to Florida. I have worked for a small insurance company and with a national company, which gave me different perspectives. I have the greatest respect for any entrepreneur who has to make payroll every week.
3. Like many property managers, I got involved in my brand new HOA and worked with committees to draft new architectural guidelines and new rules and regulations. That interaction gave me the desire to explore this industry. I felt my many years in the insurance industry gave me a distinctive advantage and a great chance to excel in property management.
4. My greatest achievement was to be named “Site of the Year” by Castle Management two times out of the six years at the Bellaggio Residents Association. This award meant a lot to me, knowing I have taken a very successful team and made it the best in the company. To obtain the highest recognition from Castle Management, considering the high quality of properties, was truly an honor and a real team effort.
5. I have two holes in one in golf.
6. Managing the details and dealing with interruptions.
7. Witnessing the development of team members as they grow into the roles of leadership and then are given the opportunity to manage a property themselves.
8. I have been blessed to have been associated with or worked with many influential people at different periods of my professional life. Each one has contributed to the way I think, the way I inter-act with people, and the way I treat others. I am thankful to each of them.
9. I was greatly influenced by my grandparents. We lived on a small farm in northwest Indiana, and hard work was a way of life. I grew up with that mentality and have lived my life with a do-whatever-it-takes work ethic.
10. Develop people skills as rapidly as possible. Interacting with people and dealing with people effectively is essential to your success. Become a great listener, be empathic, and provide Royal Service as part of your persona.
11. I am an avid golfer and enjoy the game so much. Golf epitomizes honesty and integrity and is a game that can be played most of one’s lifetime.
12. Being at the golf course practicing chip shots while the sun is coming up, with sunshine, fresh air, dew on the grass, and birds singing.
13. Without question, I would greatly value a lunch with Bill Gates, as the wealthiest person on the planet and the most philanthropic person in the world. He is also a golfer, so golf, then lunch.
1. Gaining approval of a life safety system by the fire marshal. In an older building like ours, gaining approval may require costly revisions. It appears from the initial review of our life safety engineer that despite opting out from sprinkler requirements, partial installation of same is still necessary as the most cost-effective way to comply with the code. However, this and other potential code applications will be costly.
2. I immigrated to the United States from South America after attending university and law school. My first jobs here were in construction, and from there I secured employment in condominiums, working my way up from janitorial, to security, to maintenance, and then to chief building engineer. In 2001, I secured my CAM license and have been working as a CAM ever since.
3. After working in various departments in condominiums, I felt I had the experience and qualifications to be a CAM.
4. Restoring and updating older high-rise buildings to today’s standards, keeping them in pristine condition, and working with directors, owners, and staff to achieve beneficial goals. My present condominium passed its 40-year inspection with no remediation required.
5. Achieving my own American dream.
6. Establishing those priorities to keep my building in the best condition in terms of structure and mechanics. Often, directors and owners exhibit more interest in more superficial cosmetic improvements, which are often necessary but not a priority.
7. Having our community, Venetian Condominium, designated as the 2015 Condominium Community of the Year by Florida Communities of Excellence and being designated one of the 2016 Managers of Excellence.
8. The president of the condominium where I worked in maintenance and was promoted to chief building engineer. He told me I had lots of potential and urged me to get a CAM license.
9. The same person gave me confidence in my ability to deal with the many facets involved in being a CAM, including communication with association directors, owners, and staff. He encouraged me to expand my knowledge of building structure and mechanics. He gave me the push I needed to accomplish what I was looking for when I came to this country.
10. Be prepared for challenging days, multi-tasking, and maintaining self-control.
11. Working out and working around my house.
12. Working out.
13. My old mentor. I enjoy his company, and I continue to learn from his advice and experience.