I have two sons, ages 5 and 7, and they’re the best of friends … except when they’re not.

It amazes me how quickly they can go from happiness to hatred, from friendship to war, in the blink of an eye. They’ll be playing together nicely, all will seem serene, and, then, something will spark a feud and they’re suddenly at it like cats and dogs. And I’ll have to separate them—like boxers retreating into their corners—until they cool down.

I’ve witnessed this love–hate ritual for years, so you’d think it wouldn’t faze me anymore. But one recent morning, I had had enough of this fussing and fighting. So, I turned to Aesop’s fable “The Bundle of Sticks” for help.

I took Miles and Nate into the backyard and handed each of them a stick about 8 to 10 inches long.

“That stick is you,” I told them. “You are one person—that stick is one stick. Go ahead and break it.”

They both shrugged, and each easily broke his stick in half.

Then, I took three of their now-smaller sticks and tied them together with some string.
“Now, try to break this bundle of sticks,” I dared. And try as they might, no matter how many flexing muscleman faces they made, neither of them could break the bundle.

“That bundle is our family,” I said. “That’s us three. As long as we’re together, we can never be broken.”

They looked at each other and smiled, and I was pretty proud of myself there for a second. Then, a minute later, all was lost: They started fighting over who would play with the bundle.

Aesop has his limitations.

But now, I’d like to present a bundle of sticks for your consideration.

This year, MULTIFAMIL EXECUTIVE is joining ­forces with two powerhouses, strengthening the magazine and cementing our reputation as the definitive journal of the apartment industry.

First, for the first time in their respective histories, apartment finance today (AFT) and multifamily executive will unite. Starting with this issue, on page 33, a special section of the magazine “powered by apartment finance today” and devoted to financing will appear four times a year.

What’s more, the Apartment Finance Today Conference will be incorporated into the 2014 Multifamily Executive Conference this September with a special track of sessions dedicated to everything you always wanted to know about debt and equity. And the AFT Web home page will also migrate over to MFE’s this year, becoming a special section of our website.

But that’s not all. Not by a long shot.

It gives me a tremendous amount of pride to announce that the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) and MFE are also joining forces this year, on our industry-defining Top 50 rankings of the largest owners and managers. In April, a special NMHC 50 supplement will appear, and a month later, MFE’s rankings of the top developers, general contractors, and renovators will complete the picture.

This partnership with the NMHC is a natural fit—the industry’s top trade organization and magazine belong together. Likewise, our partnership with the ­industry’s only magazine focused on market-rate finance just makes too much sense.

And in bundling these three planks together—the NMHC 50, MFE, and AFT—we’ve made multifamily executive stronger, more powerful, more indestructible, and more important than ever.