By Peter Madrid
John Carlson, President of Mark-Taylor Residential, takes the reins as 2019 AMA Board Chair. He will lead a board that is 50 members strong in an industry that has seen tremendous growth in Arizona, particularly in the Valley. He sat down for a Q&A with Apartment News to discuss his new role.
Q: How long have you been involved with AMA and what was your path to taking over as 2019 Board Chair?
A: I first got involved in 2010 and chaired my first committee – the Education Committee – in 2011. We were making a transition from more in-person classes to more online-focused classes. There were some hiccups along the way but we overcame them. I chaired the Government Affairs Committee in 2014 and 2015 and became Vice Chair in 2018.
Q: What are your priorities and what are your goals for the AMA as its 2019 Board Chair?
A: One of the things about a board this size is it understands the timing of the market. Things are going very well. Right now, we are coming from a position of strength in terms of financial stability, operational discipline, and forward- thinking organizational leadership. As incoming Chair, I seek to accelerate the significant momentum created in the past by amplifying our association’s impact, prominence, and importance. My goal is to drive engagement, connection, and candor. This will undoubtedly build membership value and underpin expansion of additional memberships statewide.
In an effort to move the organization from “good to great,” we introduced a new approach for 2019 and beyond at the 2018 board retreat. We introduced a “pod” approach; break down the 50 members into six pods. We identified three core areas of focus for the industry moving forward or “big rocks.” These “big rocks” include education, engagement, and the Tributes.
The expected benefits in creating a “little” team inside a “big” team will include increased connection and commitment as well as increased efficiency and speed to generate solutions. A new structure is never easy, but with a concerted effort and discipline to improve, we will succeed. As an organization, we cannot stop improving.
Q: What do see as the top issues facing the apartment industry?
A: For us right now it’s the negative perception coupled with negative reporting as it relates to evictions and the landlord being the big, bad guy. This perception is not just a statewide issue but a national issue as well. As landlords we make a concerted effort to work with each one of our residents when an issue occurs. We want everyone of our residents to have a safe and comfortable place to call home. If you were able to spend some time with management teams on-site or even talk to the majority of residents, the lifestyle and overall experience is very positive in nature. Living in apartments is also no longer perceived as negative.
If you drive around Metro Phoenix or tour a new community, the level of product being delivered is quite remarkable. The multifamily product in general is significantly different from what was being built 10 years ago. The overall experience for a renter is just better today and we will do our best as an industry to make sure this continues through 2019 and beyond.
Q: Multifamily is one of the hottest property types in the Valley. How long do you see this cycle continuing?
A: We have been in a strong cycle post Great Recession. Many casual observers ask, “Are we overbuilding?” People see construction all over the Valley and probably think so. Apartment demand is all about job growth. There is still a lot of runway ahead operationally. Demographics also plays a large role and that includes both the Baby Boomers and millennials. Baby Boomers are seeking out turnkey apartment solutions, and millennials are starting families later than generations of the past. Single family home permits are also a factor and not as high as they once were. As far as occupancy and operations, 2018 will go down as one of the best years on record in the Phoenix Metro.
John Carlson, President of Mark- Taylor Residential, is responsible for all operations, property portfolio performance, strategy, execution, new business development and growth. He has been with Mark-Taylor – one of the largest apartment developers and property managers in the Western U.S. – since 2002. He was promoted to asset manager in 2004, vice president in 2008 and president in 2016. His diverse background includes onsite property management, financial, and operational management. John is a licensed real estate agent in the state of Arizona and a member of the National Multihousing Council (NMHC). He is the 2018 Vice Chair of the AMA and Chair-elect of the AMA in 2019. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Concordia College.
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