All in the Family—Multifamily

My Dad has been a teacher for over 35 years. Take a minute and think about just how many annoying high schoolers that shakes out to be. It’s, like, a million.

Growing up I considered following suit, turning the shaping of young minds into a family business of sorts. And then I grew up a little more and realized that, truth be told, I don’t really care for teenagers. Nor do I care for grading papers until midnight or raising my voice (I physically can’t). Add to this my irrational fear of chalk—the feel of it against my fingernails seriously makes me want to throw up—and it became quite clear that teaching wasn’t for me. 

Apologies, father.

Fortunately, the notion of a family business is alive and well in the apartment industry. As NAA celebrates its 75th anniversary, several industry families shared their unique stories of growing up in the business. 

Eileen Subinsky’s family is a great example. 

In 1970, the former elementary school teacher was searching for an apartment to rent in Jacksonville, Fla. Subinsky found a community under construction and walked into the office, but was asked to fill out a different kind of application.

“They assumed I was there for a job,” Subinsky, CPM, says. “I wound up speaking to the owner who hired me as their first resident manager with no industry experience. Earning $75 per week plus a two-bedroom apartment exceeded the salary to teach elementary school class. It was a no-brainer. Daycare, however, was $55 per week, so getting rich as a resident manager was not going to happen.”

Subinsky’s early years were trial and error, “using common sense as a guideline.”

“I had never even heard of an apartment manager as a job, much less a career,” says Subinsky, whose husband was a construction engineer for 40 years before retiring from the industry. “There were no educational programs or classes available.”

Living onsite with her husband and two children, Subinsky says her job allowed her to spend more time with her family (no commute!). In exchange, her children spent a lot of time around residents.

“Anyone who has managed and lived onsite with children knows that they grow up under a resident microscope,” she says. “Everyone seems to know who the manager’s children are and what they are doing every moment they are not in school. And even when they are in school, should you ever lease to any of their teachers.”

On occasion, her children were the ones keeping an eye on the residents.

“When our son was about six years old, he wanted to be a garbage man ‘because people throw away the neatest things,’” Subinsky says. “Very early one Saturday morning, unbeknownst to me, he was inside a Dumpster checking out the trash when one of my older residents was tip-toeing to deposit several empty vodka bottles inside. Her story was that the Dumpster said, ‘Good morning, Mrs. Smith.’ She immediately took the pledge and swore off alcohol for the remainder of her days.”

Fortunately, her children didn’t swear off the apartment industry. To find out how Subinsky’s family followed in her footsteps—as well as the fascinating stories of four other families—check out the June issue of units Magazine. The full story is also available online.

Lauren Boston is NAA’s Staff Writer and Manager of Public Relations. Unsurprisingly, she writes a lot—most often for units Magazine and as a weekly blogger for APTly Spoken. She enjoys making people laugh, sharing embarrassing childhood stories and being the (self-proclaimed) Voice of the Apartment Industry. She welcomes feedback, unless it’s negative (in which case, please keep it to yourself).