One of Atlanta-based Lane Co.'s latest assets is a former Air Force fighter pilot and squadron leader whose favorite sales manual is the classic children's book Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. “It's a little manual on how to never take no for an answer,” says Rob Couch, who became president of Lane's property management subsidiary in March. Couch plans to employ that “never take no” attitude as he solidifies and grows the company throughout the United States. Born in Montana and raised in Idaho, Couch earned an undergraduate degree from Utah State University where ROTC pilot training put him on the path to attain his lifelong dream of joining the Air Force and becoming a pilot. Utah State is also where he met the person who would be instrumental in his eventual career in multifamily. Couch says that after “six great years in the Air Force,” that friend extended an invitation to come work for him in property management, a field neither knew much about. “We learned the business from managing duplexes and four-plexes, hundred-unit deals, and we bought and sold and did some condo conversions and all kinds of crazy things we thought we were too dumb to do. We did them anyway, and we were fairly successful … I made him all of his money.”
Along with a healthy sense of humor, Couch brings to his new position common sense and wisdom—he is a former Eagle Scout. What's more, he has more than 30 years of leadership, property management, development, construction, and acquisition experience. Prior to joining Lane, he was president of Centrum Management in Sterling, Va., for six years. Couch says in his new role he hopes to “build returns and a strong management organization.”
Q: How would you describe career opportunities in the multifamily industry?
A: Excellent, especially in the maintenance field. Maintenance people are few and far between, and I think it is an overlooked opportunity for a lot of able individuals who are bent in that direction. It's a great job—one that's crying for good, solid people who want to work and want a career path. The opportunity is huge.
Q: What are the big opportunities today for multifamily firms?
A: There're lots of opportunities with the economy like it is. There are people waiting to see what happens. The opportunity is there to provide housing for those who are waiting for whatever they are waiting for—whether its their own job stability or maybe a move or they don't want to buy their own home; they want to rent.
Q: What was the best career advice you ever received?
A: Probably more than anything else was a comment my grandfather made about me that I took as advice and remembered forever. He said I was always the one who would get the job done and then go play. So if there is a job to do, you got to get the job done, and then you do your recreation or your playing.
Q: If you were discovered at play, what would you be doing?
A: I love skiing—haven't done it in a long time, but I spent a lot of my youth skiing. Playing softball. Reading. Sports of any kind—I'm not very good at them, but I enjoy them.
- BRE Properties has appointed a senior vice president and four vice presidents. Deborah Jones has been promoted from vice president to senior vice president of associate relations and development; Tami Busse, from director to vice president of internal audit; Jason Crichfield, from assistant controller to vice president of finance; Debra Van Cleve, from director to vice president of associate learning and development; and Marco M. Vakili was named vice president of development, Southern California, after a stint at Barratt American Homes in Carlsbad, Calif.
- Steve Church has joined Jones Lang LaSalle's Capital Markets Group in Dallas as senior vice president. In his new position, Church will leverage his multifamily expertise to provide sales advisory, valuation, and marketing services to investor clients on a variety of apartment, condominium, student housing, senior housing, and residentially zoned land assignments.
- Thomas G. Kafkes has joined Chicago-based Stage Development Co. as its chief development officer. A licensed architect, Kafkes' experience encompasses several product areas, including mixed-use, multifamily residential, and industrial sectors, totaling more than 24 years in commercial real estate development and construction.
- Enterprise Community Partners, a national leader in community development and affordable housing, has appointed Lori Chatman as president of the Enterprise Community Loan Fund. Enterprise Community Loan Fund has closed 608 loans in the past 5 years, creating more than 30,500 low-income and workforce apartments, condominiums and single-family homes around the country. The company has also appointed four new officers in its Capital Markets, Tax Credit Syndication, and Structured Finance business units. In the Capital Markets group, Kari R. Fitzpatrick was named vice president of investment management, while Bill Ostrye was appointed vice president of fund analysis. Tom Eastman was named vice president of the Tax Credit Syndication unit, and John Ducey is vice president of the Structured Finance unit.
- Dixon Cos. has selected Graeme A. Foster as vice president of construction operations for Dixon Construction Group. Foster is responsible for all facets of preconstruction services, proposals, sales presentations, purchasing, scheduling, cost control, contract administration, owner relations, close out, punch list, and warranty. As a senior manager, he is involved in strategic planning, staffing and corporate process evaluation, and improvement initiatives.
- Ken Howell has been named chief financial officer of The Allen Group. Based in San Diego, The Allen Group is a privately held commercial development firm specializing in high-end industrial, office, retail, and mixed-use properties throughout the United States.
- The Habitat Co., based in Chicago, has appointed Bradford White senior vice president of acquisitions and development. In his new role, White will play a key part in the firm's expansion strategy, according to company president Valerie Jarrett. Previously, White was vice president of Related Midwest, where he oversaw the development of properties including Roosevelt Square on Chicago's Near West Side.
- Sara Soleymani has been named vice president of property management at Birmingham, Ala.-based Arlington Properties. At Arlington, Soleymani oversees property operations, technology-related initiatives, communications, acquisitions, marketing, and training for the 60 communities in eight states the company owns and/or manages. She joined Arlington in 1999 as director of marketing and has more than 25 years of experience in multifamily real estate.
- Angelica Madrigal joined Professional Community Management as director of human resources. Madrigal will work to update processes and train staff on a range of litigation issues. Lake Forest, Calif.-based PCM specializes in the management of homeowners associations for high-rise condominiums, master-planned developments and their subdivisions, active-adult communities, and boutique communities in Southern California. It manages a portfolio of nearly 100,000 units in 250 associations.Photo: Courtesy Lane Co.