Olmsted Savannah, a 163-unit property in Savannah, Georgia, that RPM Living developed, owns, and manages.
Courtesy RPM Living Olmsted Savannah, a 163-unit property in Savannah, Georgia, that RPM Living developed, owns, and manages.

RPM Living experienced its largest year of growth in 2022, expanding its footprint strategically and adding nearly 50,000 units to its portfolio.

The Austin, Texas-based company ended the year managing 148,603 units across 25 states, landing it at No. 6 at the National Multifamily Housing Council’s 2023 list of Top 50 Apartment Managers. It also owns 76 multifamily communities with 18,600 units.

“The opportunities created for our associates is truly what excites me most about our growth, expanding our footprint purposefully and strategically allows us to stay one step ahead of the competition,” says CEO Jason Berkowitz.

Multifamily Executive checked in with Berkowitz about the company’s growth; its refreshed vision, mission, and values; and what’s ahead for the remainder of the year.

MFE: 2022 was the largest year of growth for RPM Living. What are some of the key factors that attributed to this growth?

Jason Berkowitz, CEO, RPM Living
Korey Howell Photography Jason Berkowitz, CEO, RPM Living

Berkowitz: Our growth in 2022 was organic and included the addition of several large portfolios as well as expansion into six new markets—Indiana, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, and Wisconsin. While we’ve had amazing growth across the entire country, we’ve seen the largest net unit growth in Houston; Orlando, Florida; Detroit; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Denver; and several other Texas cities.

Our growth has enhanced our ability to reach new clients, residents, and talent, while also building strong client partnerships that foster diversity throughout our portfolio—all of which contributes to our overall health as a company.

Another key factor that has always contributed to our growth is our award-winning Transitions & Due Diligence department; this team has developed, built, and refined proprietary systems and processes to allow us to take on a large volume of transitions in a seamless and efficient way.

MFE: What are some of the ancillary benefits you’re seeing from this growth?

Berkowitz: As a company, we’ve never believed in being complacent—we don’t do things just because that’s how they’ve always been done. We are always looking for ways to improve and enhance the associate, client, and resident experience, with a focus on innovation and technology. Being able to both develop internal talent and attract great external talent is what really gives us a competitive edge in the multifamily industry. That is why one of the main—and most exciting—benefits we see from growth is the opportunity created for our associates. Our growth allows our associates to further grow their career at RPM and enables us to attract and bring on incredible talent from both inside and outside the industry. Top-tier talent is always sought after, but even more so in today’s workplace where companies are vying for the best of the best.

MFE: Tell me more about the vision for the company that was introduced at the end of 2022.

Berkowitz: RPM has grown considerably over the past few years, and who we are today has evolved alongside our growth. However, one thing that has never changed is our focus on our people. We celebrated our 20th anniversary last year—the perfect time to refresh our vision, mission, and values to be more representative of who we are (and want to be).

Our people have always been at the center of what we do; it was important our vision clearly reflected that commitment to set up our teams to excel, both personally and professionally. With that in mind, our new vision—to be a place where extraordinary people thrive—was born.

Our five core values (be a good human, stay curious, create wins, be decisive, and relentlessly seek solutions) thoughtfully ladder up to our mission (foster people-centric work environments where associates thrive and create living experiences residents recommend to others, while delivering exceptional performance that nurtures longstanding client partnerships), which ultimately drives to our vision. By mindfully and intentionally connecting our values to our mission and vision, we provide a cohesive, direct set of aspirations for our associates to strive to embody.

We’ve seen a lot of excitement from our associates surrounding the rollout of our new vision, mission, and values. It is clear our people want to be connected to the big picture and driven by values that mean something.

MFE: With over 3,200 associates, how do you prioritize your people?

Berkowitz: You can’t prioritize people if you don’t have a people-first culture. But you can’t simply buy or put a culture in place—culture is something that is earned over time. To do this:

  • We put our associates first. We know our residents and clients will be taken care of by our people as long as we take care of our people. We internally grow our best and brightest talent by promoting from within; last year alone we had over 400 promotions at all levels of the company. We invest in our talent through career development, including in-person hands-on learning and various recognition programs. We offer competitive pay and PTO, a flexible work-from-home policy, weekly payroll for on-site associates, a variety of wellness perks and discounts, and an associate-funded grant program. Associates receive eight paid volunteer hours every quarter and have the opportunity to get involved with our Diversity & Inclusion Council and our in-house charitable arm, RPM Serves.
  • We listen, and we act. We know how feeling “heard” impacts feeling valued and appreciated. Annual engagement surveys and pulse survey check-ins from the corporate level, coupled with a prescriptive approach for our managers to hold quarterly conversations with direct reports, are a few of the ways we gather associate feedback. This translates to clear action to address feedback themes—for example, introducing weekly pay for our on-site associates and reinstating quarterly town halls for the entire company were spurred by the feedback we received during our annual engagement survey.

MFE: What are the biggest challenges you’re seeing today in the industry?

Berkowitz: Balancing occupancy and rent growth is an art—especially so in today’s economy. Rising inflation and shifts in the economy surface challenges to how we typically operate, from strategically continuing to deliver solid results with fewer resources to being more creative in attracting prospects with smaller marketing spends and reduced concessions.

MFE: What’s ahead for the remainder of 2023 for RPM Living?

Berkowitz: Engaged and thriving associates have the energy and commitment they need to create truly memorable experiences. To make sure our teams have the time and space to create those experiences, we’re simplifying as much as we can for our associates, pushing on innovation and technology to foster a more efficient, effective, and streamlined way of working. We want to enable them to deliver best-in-class service and operate at their highest potential, to drive performance and increase our leadership bench strength at all levels. Simultaneously, we’re working to modernize and standardize our processes to continue enabling sustainable growth and enhance cross-collaboration among our departments.

While growth isn’t our goal in and of itself, we’ve proven that by cultivating the best associates in the industry, and allowing them to focus on our clients, residents, and performance, growth will come naturally.