There have long been organizations that strive to strengthen and clarify the roles of owners, residents, and managers within the cooperative housing environment. But one essential player in the game—the superintendent—was the last to find representation. Thanks to the work of the New York City Superintendents Technical Association (STA), the workhorses of the multifamily building have a voice, too.
Work Boots 'n' Club Roots
According to Peter Roach, STA’s current president, the group boasts a membership of about 150 “supers,” (up 15 percent from last year), and attendance at the non-profit group’s free meetings is strong, with around 40-45 seats filled each month. Thousands of superintendents across the city read Building to Building, STA’s bi-monthly trade publication. “We’re about to launch our new and improved website,” Roach adds. “It will contain more links to educational videos and resources, and it's more user friendly.”
They’re on Facebook and are hopping on Twitter, too. But it’s taken awhile to get here. The story begins with Dick Koral, director of the Apartment House Institute (AHI), New York City Technical College’s continuing education unit. In the late 1970s, Koral, an engineering technician and expert on energy conservation, operation, and maintenance in multifamily dwellings, began teaching a group of supers the basics of running a building. Many supers were recent immigrants and knew very little about boilers or plumbing. Koral knew this was because of a simple lack of experience and education, not a lack of intelligence.
With grant funding from the now-defunct New York State Energy Office, Koral created the Los Sures Supers Technical Association, or STA. The group met each week in Williamsburg and discussed (with the help of a translator) topics chosen by members. The grant ran out a year later, and the group disbanded, but the seeds of the original STA had been planted.
It was several years later, in 1998, that Koral founded the incarnation of the group that thrives today. Originally called The Supers Club, STA has grown steadily over the years with help from dedicated members who knew the concept, as well as the people involved, had great potential.