If you've ever met Randy Ell, you'll remember him. Tall and outgoing, he is committed to the multifamily industry and the property management people who keep those apartments running. Now he's dedicating that energy to Fifteen Group, a Miami-based firm that Ell joined in July as president. Previously he served as president of Summit Properties' management company and as an executive vice president at the public REIT, which recently merged with Camden. Ell has a bachelor's in economics from UCLA.

Q: What appealed to you about this job?

A: Fifteen Group is an entrepreneurial, family-owned, private company. They have done an excellent job acquiring a portfolio of properties and have a keen eye for value.

Q: What are the big opportunities for multifamily firms?

A: With interest rates moving up and single-family home prices going ever higher, I think there is a real opportunity for us to increase our rents as our occupancies have firmed up.

Randy Ell
Randy Ell

Q: What was your first job in the multifamily industry?

A: I was hired by Oakwood in 1983 as a leasing manager, which meant I supervised the leasing effort and the leasing consultants. It also meant that I made about half of what they made in salary. It was really a "manager-in-training" position, where you learned to be a property manager. I loved the job, as I learned sales, leasing, marketing, maintenance, and the financial side.

Q: What's the best advice anyone ever gave you about your career?

A: Two things: "Be flexible," and "Go where the opportunities are." Whenever my company asked me to transfer to another property or city or even state, I always moved for the opportunity. I believe that is why I was able to move up in the business. As for the multifamily business itself, the best advice I ever received was: "It isn't rocket science; we're just trying to rent apartments." That means quit trying to make this business any more complicated than it is. Just use good common sense.

Q: How would you describe the multifamily industry in terms of careers?

A: It offers some of the best opportunities available. Geographically, you can work in any market in the country. Financially, we offer good starting pay and benefits. Good times and bad, there will always be people who need to rent a home from us.