In his role as a principal for Newport Beach, Calif.-based Green Street Advisors, a research and consulting firm that covers the REIT market, Craig Leupold has visited lots of apartments. But he always notes something a little different from the competition when he visits a Camden property and talks with the staff.

“Ric [Campo, the company's CEO] and Keith [Oden, president and COO] are much more approachable through all levels of the organization,” Leupold says. “When I've been on-site, I've heard people refer to them as Ric and Keith, not Mr. Campo and Mr. Oden.”

This observation doesn't surprise Oden. In fact, he takes great efforts to establish a rapport with the REIT's site-level staff, doing every thing from performing an in-costume rendition of the Kenny Rogers-Dolly Parton version of “Islands in the Stream” at an event for employees to traveling around the country to personally discuss a property's budget.

TEAM WORK: Camden leaders get to know employees on a first-name basis. “Over a four-week period, our senior vice president of operations and I go to each market and sit down with our community managers,” Oden says. “They present their budgets. There's something that's compelling, unique, and powerful about our community managers sitting in a meeting with the president and co-founder and saying what they plan to do. There's a commitment that's goes beyond shuffling papers back and forth over emails and negotiating a budget. The result of is that I know all of our community managers by their first name.”

The goal of this hectic month of travel for Oden? To encourage property managers to develop a sense of ownership regarding the apartment buildings they oversee.

Camden encourages ownership in other ways too. Upon their hiring, both community managers and lead maintenance managers receive a handful of Camden stock shares, transforming these new workers into investors as well.

The company also provides restricted share grants very far down in its organization. Oden estimates that about 900 Camden employees received shares.

“You put your money with what you want to have happen,” Oden says. “We want people to act like owners.”

Camden Property Trust

  • Headquarters: Houston
  • Employees: 1,974
  • Turnover Rate: 36.5%