- May 19, 2015
- May 14, 2015
- May 11, 2015
Eileen Subinsky walked into the apartment industry.
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.”
Says Subinsky, whose husband was a construction engineer for 40 years before retiring from the apartment industry, “I had never even heard of an apartment manager as a job, much less a career. 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 6 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, the Subinsky children didn’t swear off the apartment industry.
|Eileen Subinsky, daughter Trish and granddaughter Morgan all work in the apartment industry.|
Her daughter, Trish Thompson, CPM, started cleaning the community pool when she was 12. In 1980, 15-year-old Trish approached Subinsky’s former employer—and former NAA President, Roger Greer—and asked if he could give her a summer job so that she could save for her first car. She spent the next three months organizing files for the forthcoming conversion to computers.
Now 48 and a mother of four, Trish works on the commercial side of the industry and teaches a course in property management at Houston Community College. She says her mother taught her to put family before career—advice she has heeded throughout her life. Her husband has worked for the last 20 years at The Liberty Group, a national executive search firm representing the multi-family housing industry.
Trish’s daughter, Morgan White, CAM, has also followed in her grandmother’s footsteps. After growing up in the business—frequently joining her grandmother at 5 a.m. to hand out donuts and orange juice to residents—White joined Milestone Management in 2008. She spent three years working as a leasing agent and assistant manager before transitioning to the vendor side.
“I’ve learned most of what I know about the industry from my grandmother,” White says. “My mother, grandmother and I talk about work all the time. I think after my first day I came home and said, ‘Oh my goodness, all my residents are crazy’ and they said ‘yep!’”
Now Vice President of Houston-based Michael Stevens Interests, Subinsky says the industry has evolved tremendously since 1970—most notably on the educational front.
“The national, state and local apartment associations have made tremendous in-roads in teaching and training industry members how to lease, manage and maintain rental housing,” she says. “Additionally, we now have curriculum in community colleges and universities that offer anywhere from an associates to a master’s degree in real estate management. In 1970, property management was a job. Today, it is a profession.”
And a great one for women, at that.
“You can advance to your true potential without gender bias and be recognized for your contributions and hard work,” Subinsky says. “Equal pay is not the issue it is in many arenas and the benefits you receive are the equivalent of most well-respected fields.”
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