Peculiar as it may sound, the union of a building and management company can be likened to a marriage: the mate that suits you best might be incompatible with your friend. Likewise, a management company that works well for one building might not work for another. "Each co-op building is like a different human being," says Greg Carlson, president of Carlson Realty Inc., a co-op management and consulting firm in Queens. "Each one’s needs may be different."
According to Carlson, who is also president of the Federation of New York Housing Cooperatives in Queens, the proper match arises when a management company’s abilities meet a building’s needs. "Each management company has its strengths and weaknesses." A company’s size has little to do with its performance, he adds. "I’ve seen it all. There are small ones that do fantastic jobs and small ones that do terrible jobs–the same goes for the larger ones." So where should a building start? Should the management company’s size even be a factor? Is there anything typical of a large firm versus a small one? While there aren’t any definitve answers, a careful and thorough search will lead your building in the proper direction.
The Personal Touch
Of paramount importance to every building is reliability; knowing it can count on the firm it has hired. "The one feeling all co-ops have expressed is, ‘I’m afraid I’ll get lost in the shuffle,’" says Philip Carrubba, board president of Allendale Apartments, an 82-unit building in Queens. When his co-op was interviewing prospective companies in 1994, they feared their current management, the Argo Corporation, would be too big. "We wanted to go for personal attention," Carrubba recalls. "At first we thought we’d get lost."
Considered a mid-size company in the industry, Argo has 12 agents and handles 62 co-ops and 6,200 units. The Allendale board ultimately hired Argo because they felt the company could "step up to the plate and fight" for the building, says Carrubba. Still, Allendale gets the attention it wants. "I have a good relationship with my agent," Carrubba says. "I feel I can call him at any moment."