Don't try to tell John E. Smith that he can't do something–he'll prove you wrong. Years ago, someone warned the young man that he'd "never amount to anything" if he didn't attend college. So much for that prediction. "That person unwittingly ignited my drive and set me up for success by the challenge," says Smith, who in January was promoted to chief investment officer and senior vice president of Home Properties, a public apartment REIT based in Rochester, N.Y. And his educational background? Twenty-five years in commercial brokerage.
Q: What do you see as a significant challenge for the multifamily industry in the coming year?
A: Providing acceptable risk-adjusted returns to shareholders, investors, and partners while offering appealing housing alternatives to renters-by-choice and those who rent out of necessity. At the same time, companies will want to grow their asset base through acquisitions and development in an economically feasible manner.
Q: What was your first job in the multifamily industry?
A: At 25 years old, I started as a commercial-investment broker with no knowledge of the industry, just a dream and enthusiasm. It was very difficult. It took three years to make my first deal that actually closed and receive a commission, and five years to start making a living.
Q: What do you enjoy about working in the multifamily industry?
A: The sometimes fierce but competitive nature of acquisitions/dispositions and the vast opportunities for both success and failure.
Q: What would you change about the multifamily industry if you could?
A: Less governmental and municipal interference at all levels.
Q: How would you describe the multifamily industry in terms of career opportunities?
A: Boundless. Individuals must recognize their own inherent skill sets first, maximize their strengths, minimize the weaknesses, and have an insatiable appetite to learn the rest. Then, they need to set their own goals and figure out how and when to achieve them, while not being afraid to adjust those goals along the way. Then get to work, make it happen, and have fun.
Pacific West Management, a regional property management firm in Irvine, Calif., has hired two new district managers. Misty Fisher, who will be based in Irvine, will oversee property operations throughout Southern California, handling more than 1,300 units in a residential portfolio that includes senior, tax credit, bond, and conventional properties. She specializes in the operation of troubled assets, leasing, marketing, and budget preparation. Previously, she was an area manager for Village Green Cos. The company also hired Ken Weaver to oversee property operations in Northern California. Weaver, who will be based in Sacramento, will handle more than 1,000 units in a portfolio that includes affordable housing and conventional properties. He has an extensive background in affordable housing. Previously, he was regional manager for Wasatch Property Management in Rancho Cordova, Calif.
Dennis J. Travisano has been named director of business development at Bradford White Corp., an Ambler, Pa.-based manufacturer of residential, commercial, and industrial products for water heating, space heating, combination heating, and storage applications. Previously, he worked for Jacuzzi Whirlpool Bath.
Network Multifamily Security Corp. has hired two new senior sales executives. James Redfearn will serve as senior sales executive for its Western division, working with clients and new business in Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, and parts of Texas. Previously, he was a regional account representative for Brink's Multifamily Security. Mark Szittai also has joined the company as a senior sales executive in its Eastern division. He will handle new business and current customers in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina and South Carolina. Szittai most recently served as a regional account manager for Brink's Multifamily Security.
LaSalle Bank has named Charles Krawitz managing director of the multifamily finance group, which is a division of LaSalle Bank's real estate capital markets group. He heads the group's origination effort, which provides term mortgages on multifamily properties and manufactured housing communities throughout the country. Previously he was the national director of LaSalle Select, a securitized small balance loan program offered by LaSalle Bank.
Sperry Van Ness has added several new advisors. In San Francisco, Rami Batarseh, who specializes in the sale of multifamily and retail properties, has joined as senior advisor. In central California, the firm named Randy Thomas senior advisor. Thomas, who is based in Stockton, Calif., specializes in the sale of apartment and medical office buildings. Previously, Thomas served as president of Cornerstone Real Estate Group.
JPI has promoted Christopher Burchard to regional vice president and construction management partner for its Northeast region. He will be based in Southborough, Mass., and oversee all aspects of JPI Northeast regional construction operations. Previously, he was vice president and regional construction manager for JPI.
Kennedy Wilson, a national real estate services and investment firm based in Beverly Hills, Calif., has named Bob Hart president and CEO of Kennedy Wilson Multifamily Management Group, the company's newest division. He will be responsible for the acquisition, asset management, repositioning, and disposition of all U.S. multifamily assets.
Pinnacle, an American Management Services Co., has named Kevin Wilfley as regional vice president for Puget Sound (Wash.) operations. He will oversee a portfolio of more than 18,000 units and handle multifamily management and business development. He began his career with Lincoln Property Co. in 1980, working on-site in Sacramento, Calif.
Signature Worldwide, a provider of training and other services, has promoted Kelly Moneyhan to account executive in its multifamily housing division. She will work with Signature's sales managers, instructional design team, field-based training team, and call center to serve Signature's multifamily clients. Previously, Moneyhan was a regional training team leader.
Joanna Starling has joined Fogelman Management Group as district manager of the Memphis-based firm's mid-South region. Starling, who has more than 10 years of experience in multifamily property operations, has worked for Archstone-Smith Trust and ZOM Management.
Tarragon Corp. has hired Stephen W. Wolfson for the newly created position of director of sales and marketing and senior vice president for the urban homebuilding firm. Previously he was vice president of sales for WCI Communities, where he oversaw record-breaking sales of more than $3 billion in 2005.
AvalonBay Communities has promoted a number of executives. Sean Breslin is now senior vice president of investments and will continue to be responsible for acquisitions, dispositions, and asset management activities on the West Coast. Sean Sullivan has been promoted to senior vice president of property operations, where he will oversee 16 communities, managing some of the most complicated and valuable communities in AvalonBay's portfolio. Duane Carlson has been named vice president of construction, responsible for both high-rise and wood-frame construction in Northern California. Since joining the company in 1997, Carlson has been directly responsible for the successful completion of more than 1,000 apartment homes. Sarah Mathewson is now vice president of property operations and is responsible for AvalonBay's Massachusetts/Rhode Island region. Keri Shea has been named vice president, corporate controller, and treasurer, where she is involved in the public firm's Sarbanes-Oxley reporting requirements. Phil Wharton, who oversees New York area properties, was promoted to vice president of development.
Lane Management, the property management division of Atlanta-based Lane Co., has established four regional operating centers and expanded its senior team. Lisa Robinson is now Lane Co.'s regional vice president for Florida. Most recently, she was a regional vice president for ConAm Management Corp.'s Southeast region. Kim Lee has been promoted to regional vice president for the Carolinas, which includes assets in Virginia and Maryland. The company has also hired Jim Collins, formerly owner and operator of Marquis Asset Management (a consulting firm serving large institutional clients) and Melanie Gersper, who previously operated Gables Residential's Atlanta fee-management division, as regional vice presidents for the Georgia operations centers. To assist these senior operations people, Lane has also added senior staff to focus on ancillary revenue and new business development.
Scott Templeton has been promoted to vice president of business services, where he will handle national vendor contract management and the creation of ancillary income and expense recovery opportunities within Lane's owned and managed portfolios.
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