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.

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