How One Exec Went from Intern to Owner
In our fifth installment of “Profiles in Success,” a series where NAA talks to successful apartment professionals to learn how they got to where they are, who inspired them and what their biggest challenge was, we visit with NAA's Legislative Committee Chair.
Name: Brian Chase
Company: Landmark Property Services, Inc.
Title: Founder and Owner
Years in the Industry: 26
What was your first apartment job?
I worked as a summer intern for the Charles E. Smith Companies in the Washington, D.C., area. Cindy Clare as my first supervisor. Tasks assigned to me involved leasing, management and maintenance. It was quite an eye-opening experience for someone from a small town, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Describe your job now
I and two business partners (Judy Olive and Pinson Neal) formed Landmark in 2002. I oversee the multifamily division, which includes supporting our regional managers, reviewing financial statements and budgets and managing onsite teams and operations. Additionally, I play an active role with helping my partners during acquisitions or when working on development deals.
Who was your greatest influence in the industry (how did they influence you)?
Ben White. He was a developer and manager in Richmond, Va., for a number of years. When he decided to leave the management side of the business 20 years ago, I became involved with managing his properties. I learned a great deal from him regarding management and development and acquisitions. He was great about sharing “life lessons” and has been a positive mentor for me over the years.
What was your biggest challenge? How did you overcome that challenge?
My biggest challenge was because I was so young (age 32) when I helped to form and start Landmark, it was hard to convince others that I had the knowledge and experience to manage and improve the operations of their real estate holdings. It took a lot of hard work and perseverance to work through many challenges, but I never gave up and always tried to keep the big picture in mind. There are always many obstacles along the way, but you just must take them as they come and keep moving forward.
What is your ultimate goal as an apartment industry professional?
I am not sure what my ultimate goal would be, but I wake up every day and look for new challenges. I enjoy what I do; working with a lot of great people makes that easier. I will continue to see where life takes me. Every time I think I have arrived or reached my goal, there is always another mountain to climb.
What’s your favorite apartment industry story?
At my first job after graduating college, I was an Assistant Property Manager at a community in Arlington, Va. We had a bi-annual inspection with the Vice President, who chewed out my property manager and myself the entire time. It seemed like nothing went right that day. At the end of the inspection he went out to get in his car and the towing company had taken it away. He let us know very “nicely” that at least someone was doing their job correctly!
What has the apartment industry given you, personally and professionally?
Personally, the apartment industry has helped me establish many great friendships from my business partners to employees, fellow board members and the apartment association’s staff. Getting to know so many different people from all over the country – who I would not otherwise have met -- has truly been a great and rewarding experience. Professionally, this industry provides you with so many opportunities and challenges. It keeps me invigorated and motivated to always do better. I enjoy the ever-changing and evolving nature of our industry and making sure that I and our company stay current and up-to-date in all aspects of the business.
Success is best when shared. How do you or your company find ways to give back?
We always try to listen to our employees and residents and make necessary changes where we see a benefit, even if it is not always a benefit to the owner or to us as a management company. Being as involved as we are and having a lot of long-term employees gives us great insight to our strengths and weaknesses and gives us a unique ability to make changes quickly without a lot of bureaucracy.
What volunteer roles do you currently hold?
We formed a service committee a few years ago and have become actively involved with our local food bank. We rotate weekly food drop-offs to participants and anyone in our company who would like to help is encouraged to do so. We have also helped the food bank with larger projects, such as backpacks for the summer for students and long holiday weekend meal packing.
How has your experience as a volunteer helped in your career?
Anytime you can volunteer and give back to those that need your help it helps to enrich your life and makes you a better person. As a company, we have enjoyed helping the food bank. Getting to meet so many people and deliver meals to them is satisfying.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
When I am not working, I enjoy working out (kind of), travel, skiing, hiking, walking and attending sporting events. As a Virginia Tech graduate, go to a lot of football games. Some of those are much more enjoyable than others, but the tailgating is always fun! I love spending time with my daughter, family, significant other and being around them for holidays, graduations, family events, etc.
What did you want to be growing up?
When I was growing up I knew I wanted to be in some type of business. My grandfather owned rental houses and a retail store, so I grew up helping him with various tasks. He also owned a farm and I learned very quickly that I was not going to be a farmer when I grew up.
What do you want to be doing five years from now?
In five years, perhaps I will be involved in more development deals. Only time will tell.
If you could talk to yourself 10/15/20 years ago, what would you say?
Keep grinding, don’t give up, and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Faith in others is very important but faith in yourself is where it all starts.
What’s your favorite quote?
“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.”
What’s your favorite song/musician?
What’s the biggest difference you see between our how our industry operates today compared to how it did when you started?
Technology -- and it is not even close. I did not have a computer or a fax machine when I started in this industry. I would get a credit report by strapping a phone down on some contraption and the credit report would print off on slick paper that was rolled up and had to be stapled to another piece of paper to view it. It was not high tech. Technology has changed so much in our industry that it is hard to fathom how we were even operating 25 years ago. The one thing that has not changed is that you still must have good people.