It occurred to me that in order to publish my book that a number of years and a number of diverse activities and operations were required to provide the background content, activities and operations prior to publishing the book. I determined that 58 years of content and experience provided the chapters and the technology addendum’s for publishing. This article will identify the times, the places and many of the events relating to the book content. It also identifies major personal events that shaped my professional history.
I was attending the University of Illinois at Navy Pier Chicago in 1957. Unfortunately I had indicated an interest and choice of an electrical engineering major. To some extent that choice resulted as of an active duty Marine Corps Reserve training assignment. It included recruit training at Parris Island South Carolina, Infantry training at Camp Le Jeune North Carolina and Marine Corps Air Familiarization school at the Jacksonville Naval Air Station, Florida, I completed the course as one of the top three attendees in a 45 man class. lt was highly technical and included a great deal of physics.
However, l was lacking the higher math classes required for an electrical engineering major. It was at the end of my second semester at U of I that lt was clear that I was not suited for an electrical engineering career. I decided lo seek a job and begin classes at a community college. I was very fortunate being able to interview almost immediately with IBM at their Chicago IBM Education Center. I was assigned to provide various assistance and services to the group of instructors that provided training on IBM’s huge collection of popular card accounting equipment. This included preparing instructional materials and helping with both equipment demonstrations and assistance in the wiring and use of the equipment.
I did this for about 18 months and then was promoted to IBM’s Chicago Data Center which was on the second floor of the same building as the Education Center. The Data Center maintained a number of first generation mainframe computers.
My new responsibilities included managing and scheduling mainframe computers systems being tested by the IBM customers preparing for the installation of their systems at their locations. A main task was to maximize the time the customers had available for their testing. About six months later I was asked whether I would accept being tested for aptitude relating to programming and computers. The testing was successful and l was promoted once again. I now joined the systems engineers that were already in the computer center working directly with the customers writing and testing their programs. I began on one older system and within six months began work on IBM’S second-generation of transistorized computers.
I had been attending night classes at Northwestern University with the intention atf some point in time acquiring a four-year degree. I had already completed my Associate Community College degree in 1960 and immediately. began classes at Northwestern University in Chicago downtown a few blocks from the IBM Data and Education Centers. I was really enjoying my classes and the business fraternity I pledged to. My social activities tripled.
One aspect of Data Center operations that affected the systems engineers of the Data Center was the four weeks of first shift operations, followed by two weeks of second shift operations. Second shift was a challenge for me in that it conflicted with my Northwestern classes. I was almost always able to switch shifts on my class nights, but that involved a night, day, night schedule that was a bit of a challenge, Generally second shift was considered almost a special benefit based on the many Chicago day time activities that were available to the staff; i.e. golf, the lake beaches, the Cubs and White Sox, etc, Winter second shifts however, was not as highly appreciated as the rest of the year.
I had been attending night classes with the intention of some point in time acquiring a four-year.
degree. I had already completed my Associate Community College degree in 1960 and
immediately began classes at Northwestern University in Chicago downtown a few blocks
from the IBM Data and Education Centers. I was really enjoying my classes and the business fraternity I pledged to. My social activities tripled.
Shortly after I was asked to what new location I was interested in moving to. An important element of the IBM culture is what IBM actually means according to IBM personnel; it means “I’ve been moved”. In one respect I was really enjoying myself. At the same time between my IBM schedules, my night time classes and my social life with the fraternity I was a bit too busy.
lt occurred to me that I might be able to transfer to San Diego which is where my brother and sister-in-law currently lived. I acquired the option of checking with the IBM San Diego branch office, In late December 1962 I flew to San Diego with the intention of interviewing with the Branch Manager of the IBM San Diego office. The branch manager initially had one important question when we met. He asked “how soon can I be in San Diego”? I was interested in attending one more semester at Northwestern University in Chicago. My response therefore was May. His response was February. He then said “Our first systems deliveries were scheduled for April. So much for my Spring semester at Northwestern,
I would be celebrating my last New Year’s in Chicago. I would be missing my friends, coworkers
and a number of special ladies that I had met at Northwestern University. I sold most of the
furniture in my apartment that I shared with two other fraternity brothers. I packed my clothes, books, etc. in large trunks for shipping via Railway Express and in the first week of February I began my drive to San Diego in my Sunbeam Alpine sports car. I spent 3 and 1/z days driving to San Diego and generally enjoyed the drive.
I spent a few days moving in to my duplex that my brother ( a real estate broker), purchased as an investment two years earlier. At the beginning of the next week began to meet the 60 or 70 IBM staff in the office which was time consuming and a bit of a challenge. As I recall I was assigned with two or three other systems engineers and their clients. lt was only a relatively short time before I renewed some common activities at the Los Angeles IBM Data Center.
The rest of my time was focused on much of the new training materials being provided on the new systems. Later a new operating system for a utility company client I was assigned to generated a major issue. I promoted the operating system as a big improvement in productivity and assisted the clients in its implementation. As a result the utility company backed off the second system they had ordered. Result! One very unhappy IBM Sales Man.
The quandary I had created was an office issue for months. The newest technology could create a completely different systems solution resulting in obsolete equipment and reorganization. IBM had to recognize the conflicts it would be confronting. The massive IBM card equipment installations would disappear and be replaced with equipment requiring significantly less space and significantly greater capabilities.
I began to appreciate the diversity of the San Diego customers. They included aeronautical companies, a utility company, military organizations, and financial and retail companies. During the rest of the year I taught some classes and I attended classes and spent a number of 3 or 4 day trips at the LA Data Center.
Later that Summer I took Scuba lessons and then began exploring the ocean depths. That Winter I joined a Sky Club and had the unique experience of being 50 feet below sea level one weekend in San Diego and qt 9000 feet at Mammoth Mountainthe next. I experienced the lows and highs also that Spring. California was special,
I decided to visit my folks in Chicago June 64. I was expecting to connect again with some of the young ladies I knew when last in Chicago. I was disappointed. Fortunately however, I made contact with a good friend from high school. He was married and I was a godfather of one of his kids. He invited me out to the suburbs to a barbeque on Monday night. He mentioned that one of his cousins, Judy had just graduated as a nurse and was overdue for a visit to their home. “ Bring her out” he said. I did and I was impressed. The rest of the week filled up with Judy seeming as interested in me as I was with her. She came to the airport with my folks to see me off and indicated she would be in Phoenix in July at a wedding.
“Would I be interested in flying over for a few days? She asked. “Great idea” was my response. “At the airport I was thinking I would probably have to come back to Chicago again soon!”. Judy however, mentioned she had some vacation time in September and had never been to California: “Could I arrange some time to spend with her then?” I believe I had trouble responding.
We spent most of each day in enjoying San Diego and on the 7th day I proposed. She said yes. We drove to San Francisco for 3 days and I saw her off back to Chicago. For the next four months we talked regularly. My phone bill was over a $100 a month. I flew to Chicago on December 23rd for our wedding on the 26th. Next morning we left for Mexico City and Acapulco. We later calculated we spent part of 17 days together before we were married, We will be celebrating our 55th anniversary this coming December. We have 3 grown kids and 7 grandkids. It’s been good, real good.
About 2 years after our marriage IBM management began the “time to move on again” conversation. I spent over a year visiting a few IBM cities and had one recommendation from management was to move to Mexico City t o teach. We had our first boy than and he was a deciding factor to stay in San Diego and leave the company. It was an IBM salesman friend who told me about a bank customer looking for someone with my background, I interviewed and was offered the position. I accepted.
It was 1967 and I was about to spend 7 years managing a group of Corporate and Banking Systems analysts and programmers. I was also going to become the Assistant Manager of the Bank Computer Center and its 80 staff members. We bought systems, modified systems and created systems at what I believed was a record pace. I focused on training of staff, establishing documentation standards and then cross training staff so each member had a minimum of 3 systems they were responsible for. There were about 20 local bank branches when I joined the bank and 7 years later there were 60 branches including LA and Orange County Branches. We were finishing up a new system that provided the ability for a customer and teller to verify his/ her balances from the teller’s window by phone. The San Diego branches were operational.
At that point the long festering differences between the President /CEO of the bank and the US Treasurer finally ended in the bank being sold to another bank in San Francisco. Most of the bank staff was offered employment as new staff especially in the branches, I was offered a management position and five of my programmer/ analysts were also offered positions. , After spending a couple of days in San Francisco interviewing and asking a lot of questions I chose to pass on the offer. Two of my staff took the positions offered . Only one stayed with the bank until that bank was acquired by Wells Fargo 3 years later, It would appear the majority that had passed on the offers had not foreseen an appropriate and stable future.
In 1969 I had received my community college Teaching Credentials in Business Data Processing and usually taught one course a semester. Even though I did not have a BA or BS I had 9 Years of IBM and 7 years of bank and corporate systems. I was able to increase my course activity when needed which was fortunate since I had not yet found new employment. One year I assumed a total of 16 units between Grossmont College and San Diego Community College, As I recall I had twice in the mid 70’s organized field trips to the San Diego Naval Station Communications/ Physics Building. We activated the University Of Illinois – Champaign Urbana on-line Physics course. We had seen at that time the beginnings of the Internet which was still pending about 20 years.
I also increased my course levels at San Diego State University with a plan of completing my BA possibly iin Summer 76. I did graduated with 176 units and 2 Majors; Business Management and Industrial Psychology. I had found that the Industrial Major r was helpful with IBM and the many issues associated with automation and the people struggling with automation. .
In 1977 I was offered a property Management job by my brother. He owned and managed a Real Estate Investment Brokerage and was beginning to pick up more management units, I had some owner management experience; ( the duplex was exchanged into 6 units). I suspect my brother had also had some additional thoughts about my past systems experience. He would become the San Diego Association of Realtors Board President at that time. I acquired my real estate license and became a member of the San Diego Association of Realtors ( SDAR) Member. Over the next three years our company grew to 400 residential units plus commercial property,
I was also appointed as Chairman of the Computerized Investment Multiple Listing Service, I became primarily responsible for the design and implementation of the IMLS. It was the first in California and possibly in the USA, I acquired a lot of exposure in the early 80s as the Chair of the IMLS. Some of my past IBM and bank systems experience initiated inquiries from brokers about real estate systems especially property management systems. Based on the accounting and record-keeping property management was a natural candidate as an early and successful system candidate. I installed my first property management system in 1983 . More systems followed as I implemented systems as and independent consultant / real estate agent and later with two different companies,
My brother sold his business and I transitioned into real estate Investment properties sales and exchanges. I was attending weekly real estate marketing meetings and this was where much of my early clientele was contacted. I also acquired another following based on co-chairing the SDAR Computer User Group. This was an increasing group of brokers and some agents introducing real estate automation into their businesses.
I also became a California Association of Realtors Director and for a short time became a CAR Systems Instructor. CAR had created some real estate software and a PC based system and initiated some training dates, I was one of about 5 CAR instructors, That program lasted about a year. Later company out of Orange County acquired special status by offering a CAR endorsed package of IBM PC equipment and a suite of Real Estate programs. I was contacted and invited to participate in the CAR endorsed systems deliveries, installation and training, It did include a Property Management System, The company however, had an ongoing problem with making its payroll and after a year or so failed. I suspect someone was “tapping the till”.
In 1989 I became aware of a company at a CAR Expo, The company was Yardi out of Santa Barbara and was a large and long time player in property management and related systems, I would become a Dealer and at one time would grow to 500 systems installed and provide consults and computer lab training. Yardi at that time offered a property management System , a Real Estate Brokerage system and a Construction Accounting System, I marketed all three of the systems but the property management system was the established and best known system,
In 1994 I finally opened my office and quickly created a small computer lab in the office. I also took on a second program that was primarily an owner / operator system. I brought on associates to help with the training and the growth of the business . In 1995 Yardi introduced its Windows Professional System which was a major product upgrade and a popular product. We acquired a segment of new business from Yardi DOS users choosing to upgrade to the new version and new Yardi System users, Microsoft Windows was becoming very popular at that time so it helped sell Windows applications including Yardi,
Other aspects of the management business in California became a greater concern as I met with property managers re: their systems, The Department of Real Estate, (DRE) was initiating audits of property management companies and it was apparent the DRE was not a general concern of senior management, It became a concern for me based on the number of data breaches, embezzlements, forged checks and other scams I had become aware of. My relationship with the property management broker often initiated inquiries as to identifying corrective measures to the recent problem and discussing other potential issues and solutions.
In 2003 I chose to move to a larger office and a lower rent cost. I created a larger computer lab while I offered two more programs; one being specifically for owner operators. The lab could now support 8 trainees and the instructor. The number of classes and system demonstrations increased. The programs were acquiring more technology including e-mail and Internet support. In 2005 I had a conversation with one of mu Associates re: a future book. Based on the articles I had written he suggested I was ready for a book. The associate was my co-moderator of the SDAR Computer User Group. He was alsp a Community College instructor and had access to Real Estate books, He provided a couple of well known publications. The lack of systems content in the books was primarily the motivation for my commitment to a book. I got started in l 2006.
I recognized three major issues that I believed required more training of senior management. They were DRE Compliance, System Security Policies and Procedures and Senior System Management. Risk Management is associated with the three issues, but it also is an important issue based on the many significant risks associated with the property management, All four of those issues generated their own chapters in my future book.
In 2007 we lost a major system as a result of the owner taking it off the market. The company was buying up systems, integrating Credit Checking and Renters Insurance to the 7 or 8 systems they had. They were cutting back on general support and basically destroying their business. I was told I had 30 days to “close” on the sales of the system that they were talking off the market. I was also told not to tell my clients that the program was being “trashed” and no support except for my office
would be available, Considering the lack of integrity and intelligence of the individual I was talking to ti was a loud and nasty hour that day, That program at that time was almost 60 per cent of our total income, I decided I needed to downsize. I really hated to close the office and shut down the lab.
I set up an office in my home and began looking for another program to replace the one we lost, The company that that shut down removed our lead program did end up in Chapter 11, At that time they had 21 million in liabilities and 1.4 million in assets. It would seem that some kind of IQ test be required in order to become a company supposedly providing benefits and services to customers,
I spent 5 or 6 weeks on the phone and Internet talking to developers and managers about their products and marketing. Do they work with Dealers? If they did my past Dealership would probably allow me to become a Dealer for them. The company that matched the description of software I described in the 2008 magazine article was Rent Manager out of Ohio, Even though I was now a one man office I almost immediately made an impact by providing information related to DRE Compliance mandates to be programmed in the Rent Manager programs. It also carried over to the ACH technology in that their current ACH service was non-compliant in California. One of my first Rent Manager clients was audited in 2008 and the ACH services were non-compliant. I immediately notified Rent Manager of a local ACH service company that Had worked with on an ACH product, They were compliant and became a Partner with Rent Manager providing compliant ACH services.
In 2008 I wrote an article Identifying the key elements to be considered in evaluating and acquiring a property management system, Partially based on about 6 non-compliant property managers I was referred to by a senior DRE auditor who discovered during an audit that the Califoria fee property manager was using a program that was not compliant. There is no discussion on that issue. The Property Manager will either shut his doors or he will acquire a California DRE compliant program. The DRE maintains a very robust set of compliance regulations. The article appeared in the May 2008 National NARPM Magazine and was called “Shopping For Software” and does address Federal, state and local regulations that must be accommodated in the system .
Other issues is the lack of a strong set of training and support resources. Programmers and IT people in general tend to underestimate the needs of their customers for training and support. The additional hours that staff will require on a program lacking training and support resources most likely become a major problem shortly after its installed, I review the reviews of a number of well known programs, One of the programs generally well received, has had a number of reviews identifying 24 to 48 hours for a support request by e-mail. No phone support and no formal training resources. . A change / upgrade usually develops a new problem , etc, Those kind of reviews get old fast and for some customers become an unacceptable product. .
I have continued with more Rent Manager installations at a a slow pace and periodic consults on-site or via the use of Go To Meeting Collaboration software. I have created a presentation on the use of Advanced Features . These are features often provided after the basic features are implemented and possibly available as a result of an upgrade. I have also provided my clients a seminars on system security and consults on DRE Compliance.
My clients and prospects have been offered my E-Book of “Property Management Systems – From A To Z” and some clients have bought the Soft Cover. I have also expanded upon book associate training in that I created Power PoInts for all of the book chapters, My current efforts are focused on distributing a minimum of 2 articles/ blogs a month and beginning work/ notes on the second book,