Monday, April 13, 2009

Washington Multi-Family Housing Education Conference and Exposition

Being a member of
WMFHA has been amazing for us. Eric and I were new to the industry when we started Community Northwest. We had served for 2 years on-site, and had managed other teams. But we had never worked with the management side of the industry. It has been a huge learning process, but it has been fun. One of the first things we did when we joined WMFHA was join a committee. For some reason, I am a conference junkie, so I joined two years ago, and have been serving ever since. I don't think I've even missed a meeting! This month is the 4th Annual WMFHA Education Conference. It's going to great as always!
  • The classes will be very informative and relevant to our current economy.
  • WMFHA is very active in Governmental Affairs, and there will be a class devoted to this very topic.
  • The keynote is top notch, and seating is limited, so we suggest getting there early.
  • This is the second year for Maintenance Mania, which is a very popular event for Maintenance Staff.
I highly recommend checking out the website for more details: If you do stop by, please make sure to say hello at our booth, D-41. We will be giving out smoothie shots and an idea sheet on how to host a successful smoothie event. Hope to see you there!

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Slowing Economy Benefits Resident Events

This last summer we noticed an interesting trend.  Our resident event numbers were going through the roof.  We had always had good turn outs at summer barbecues, but this year we topped all the records.  And it wasn't just one property, it was multiple properties.  

So, of course, we did some informal research and found that many residents were looking for fun things to do with their families that wouldn't cost much.  Free food was a big attraction.  We also found that the price of gas, which was the highest ever through much of the summer, kept many people home or at least gone for shorter times.

While we hate for people to be going through tough times, we truly loved all the resident participation.

Has it continued through the fall and into winter?  Yes, to some extent.  We are still seeing great numbers (can't give you exact figures as our property sizes vary greatly), but we are seeing the normal slow down with the winter months.  Once it starts getting darker earlier, we find resident participation slows slightly.  People are not as apt to go out of their apartment once they are home. 

What we always find to be popular are the Saturday Breakfasts and the monthly dinners.  Our saying has always been that "If you feed them, they will come."  But we have also added, "If you feed them well, they will come again.  If you feed them well and introduce them to a friend, they will continue to come."  This will be true no matter what the economy does.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

In the beginning...

It all started back in 2003. We (Eric and I) were at a point of transition. We were waiting on some things to come through, and we needed a new living situation. We heard a guy named Paul talk about Apartment Life, and as he described it, we knew it was for us. It was everything that we were passionate about and loved to do: make people feel welcome, host parties, and help people get to know each other. We had been doing this since we got married back in '95.

So I guess you could actually say that it started even farther back for us personally. When we first got married, we lived in a 27' travel trailer in Ellensburg, WA. We were finishing our Bachelor's degrees at Central Washington University. Sundays in particular were our days for having people over, but due to space, we could only have two at a time. Our favorite people to invite were other college students, partly because they were our friends, and partly because they didn't mind that we were serving Hamburger Helper.

Every apartment that we moved to, we made it a point to host people in our home. We never saw a space as too small. We just wanted people to feel welcome. Our cuisine has vastly improved, and we have now served groups as big as 150...quite a step up from Hamburger Helper and two at time.

So back to the Apartment Life situation...We applied and were accepted as the very first team placed in Seattle. We served as the team at what is now The Reserve at Town Center (formerly Jefferson at Mill Creek) for almost 3 years as the Community Team. We even survived through an ownership change.

Apartment Life decided at the end of 2003 that the Northwest just wasn't the best market for them. They completed their contracts through 2004, and then pulled out of the Northwest. Eric and I really felt that there was still potential and a great need for this program. We both grew up in the Northwest and know that quite frankly, our area needs help when it comes to the concept of community. After the two of us spent much time in prayer and talking with trusted advisors, including Stan Dobbs, President of Apartment Life, we decided that we would continue by creating a new company.

Community Northwest launched in January of 2005, just six weeks after the birth of our son. Yes, two new ventures of this magnitude were a little bit crazy, but we had peace that this was the path for us.

We have learned some tough lessons as anyone in management or leadership can attest comes with the territory. I'm sure we still have plenty of lessons to learn. But we survived what one of our advisors called "The Bruising Year", and I'm still thrilled to be on this journey with CNW.

In January of 2005, we started with two properties. One in Portland and one in Seattle. You could call them our seed properties. Since then we have quadrupled in size; most of that growth has come from word of mouth. We are proud of our teams, and have striven hard to be a blessing to all of the residents and management teams we have served so far. It has been a joy, and we look forward to the future.