By: Cassandra Sprigg
Social Media Coordinator – South Bend, IN
In 1967, when we were still the Holladay Corporation, we merged into the multi-family residential market with the creation of our first Midwest apartment complex, West Jefferson Apartments, in Mishawaka, IN. Several multi-family projects and 23 years later, we developed Maple Lane Apartments in Elkhart, IN, which, along with West Jefferson Apartments, we continue to manage to this day. As we prepare to further expand our portfolio with the addition of the Promenade at Founders Square and Burlington Station, we sat down with our Property Managers, Melissa Morin and Gary Stump, to hear about their experiences in managing these successful residential communities, and why they love what they do.
Melissa Morin – Property Manager – West Jefferson Apartments
Tell us a bit about yourself:
MELISSA: I joined Holladay Properties in March of 2011 as a housekeeping and grounds crew member at West Jefferson Apartments. In the following years, I worked my way up to leasing agent and was promoted to Property Manager in 2015. In 2016, I earned my Accredited Residential Manager (ARM) certification. My duties are to find prospective tenants, take care of day to day operations of the property, manage any issues that our tenants are having, and ensure the property is in good working order.
GARY: I first came to Maple Lane Apartments in 1988, when I was hired in as a maintenance technician. I became the Maintenance Supervisor in 1990. Then, in 2015, I was promoted to Property Manager. I have a total of 35 years of maintenance experience. What most people may not know, is that this was not my original career path. I studied Music Education at Ball State University, but eventually decided not to go into teaching.
In a few words, describe your apartment complex:
MELISSA: West Jefferson Apartments was built in 1969. We have 96 very spacious 1, 2 and 3 bedroom units on our beautifully landscaped grounds, located minutes from major shopping and dining. We also offer off-the-street parking, 2 on-site laundry facilities, and 24-hour maintenance service.
GARY: Our property is located on 33 acres of wooded land, where we coexist with a variety of local wildlife. We have 308, 2-bedroom apartments, with variations including 1-2 bath units, and units with fireplaces. 77 apartments also come with the convenience of attached garages.
What is your favorite thing about managing your property?
MELISSA: My favorite thing about managing my property is the people. I meet pretty unique people every day, and treasure the relationships that I have with my residents. There is never a dull moment, and that makes me love my job even more!
GARY: I’m really proud of the property and how our residents take ownership of their spaces. It’s amazing what some will do to make it their home. It’s more of a home to them than an apartment. I, myself, have lived here for 25 years, and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
Gary Stump – Property Manager – Maple Lane Apartments
Are there any challenges that you face?
MELISSA: The most difficult part in managing my property is making sure that the residents are following the rules and regulations that have been put in place for the property.
GARY: Unfortunately, not everyone follows the community rules. Noise and parking issues are an everyday occurrence. It’s always a few that cause issues for the many. Most of our residents do a great job at following the rules, though.
Without naming names, what is the craziest situation that you or your staff have encountered, and how did you meet the challenge?
MELISSA: One of the craziest things that I have ever come across is, one time – when Kurt and I were performing our annual smoke detector inspections and checking for plumbing issues – we went in to a resident’s bathroom, and found a turtle swimming around in the bath tub. It turns out, it was his home! I had to explain to the resident that the turtle needed a cage, and that letting it live in the tub was not a good idea.
GARY: I could write a book, but the one that stands out for me is an instance in which two adult residents were changing into their swim suits at the pool…in front of everyone. When we approached them, they acted as if it was okay, since public nudity was not frowned upon in their home country. They were promptly told that it was unacceptable, and that it would not be allowed to happen again. The funny thing was, their apartment was right next to the pool! Go figure.
Is there anything you wish that your tenants would know/do to make managing their properties go smoothly?
MELISSA: One thing I wish the residents would be more conscientious of is that, while our lot is private, there are not a lot of parking spots. When they have company over, their guests should not take up all of the other spots. It is very important to follow the rules and regulations.
GARY: I would like our tenants to carefully read their leases. That way, if a problem occurs, they will be aware of the consequences and the steps we have to take.
Melissa and Gary have experienced great success with their residential communities. In the past 3 years, they have maintained quarterly occupancy rates at West Jefferson and Maple Lane Apartments at 98% or higher. Way to go, team!