The Role of the Super Super Men

The co-op we owned in Astoria was a huge brick prewar building. Three of its sides were either attached to other buildings or else sealed off by high barbed-wire fencing. The only way into the building was the front door, and that meant going through the lobby, past the super’s apartment.

The super, a tall youngish man with tattoos on his arms from his days in the Serbian military, had an almost preternatural ability to detect untoward noise in the lobby. Slam the door by mistake, and Poof!—he would appear, making sure everything was OK.

One night, a drug addict tried to sneak into the building to sleep in the lobby. The super was having none of it. When the intruder refused an order to leave, the super physically picked the guy up and through him out—literally, like they do on TV cop shows. Our co-op was like a fortress, and our super kept it safe. That was one of his many jobs in the building, and he one he did with aplomb.

The Captain of the Ship

A good super is essential to the well being of a building. He or she is generally hired by, and reports to, the property manager. In larger buildings, the super has his own staff, comprised of porters, doormen, and handymen, who perform the more menial tasks, while the super focuses on larger issues and liases with the shareholders. In smaller buildings—like mine in Astoria—the super does it all, from changing batteries in fire alarms to baiting the mousetraps in the basement.

“The super is the captain of the ship,” says Peter Grech, president and director of educational services with the New York Superintendents Technical Association (NYSTA). “He/she oversees and supervises all staff, all contractors.”

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2 Comments

  • I agree with this article, that the role of the super is Communication. Every individual has its own leadership style, but most important is communication with the tenants, But also association with the tenants is just as important as communication. The super needs to know his tenants, in order to be able to do the role of the super and be able to serve them well. Wish means that the super has to have the ability and the knowledge of his profession. Leadership is an art, like communication is an art. When tenants look at a super like a servant, then the super needs to change the way he communicates with the tenants, he needs to most of all, show the tenants how reliable he is and his importance of being there. The super if he feels that he is being treated like a servant, then he should find a means of communicating with the tenants throught association while on the job in conversation of anything and everything, not just about the job but of anything else, for example current events, sports etc However, not in politics nor in gossip. This will improve on how the tenants look at the super, both after hours and on hours. Association is the key to communication. Therefore, the super needs to change his tactics in order not to be treated like a servant or even looked at like a servant. However, there will always be a generation gap between tenants and the super and that is the Social Class. But that can always be overcome, just by association. I in particular beleive that supers should be taught Human Relation courses.
  • Yes, I agree with the both of you.But, let's not forget the big picture. Super's control the whole environment, from water to air.To the drive on the property, the walk thru the lobby and the ride in the elevator. And finally the opening to there palace. This is a very special job, it takes a very special person. I know I have been a Super since 1978. From Florida to Boston to New York, New Jersey. I love it, there is no other career I would choose. I incourage all the supers to be true leaders in there communities, and to assit in any issue that comes there way. And please teach your staff to always be safe and secure. Nice article