State of the Association: AATC Annual Report

by Nicolle Block, 2019-2019 AATC President 

It has become a time-honored tradition for the outgoing AATC president to share a brief snapshot of what we’ve been up to for the past 12-months. Since I’m honored to have served this world-class organization and feel a deep sense of pride regarding our accomplishments, this year will be no different.

Let me begin with the not-so-sexy side of what we do, including governance (budgets, bylaws, strategic planning, human resources, and leadership). Thanks to our President-elect Candy Maxey, Treasurer Jason Busboom and Past-president Jeff Hoster for tackling those quiet behind-the-scenes important jobs. We’ll finish the year in the black with no long-term debt, and we’ll have a great group of new leaders taking over where the current group left off; enough said.

Our membership committee produced in a big way reporting 1,745 members with 209,997 units representing a steady 2% growth rate – not bad since nearly everyone in the Tarrant County multi-housing business is a member. Thanks to Lani Grant for providing us with a knockout year of membership.

I’m so proud of Bryan Downer and his colleagues representing our independent rental owner members. Bryan invested his time crafting programs relevant to smaller-volume rental owners. We’ve discovered sharing first-hand personal experiences on subjects like contingency and succession planning, asset protection, as well as paint and technology innovations that everyone does a better job serving our residents.

Since I’ve been actively pursuing empowering our next generation of leaders at the state and national levels, it has been my privilege, with the assistance of Casey Coon, to launch AATC’s NexGen program. One of the most critical responsibilities of any leader is to identify and encourage an emerging group of inspired new leaders. Tami Martin and Traci Hall helped me, so I’m working to help new future leaders get involved.

Education is an essential part of the Association’s foundation. Under the leadership of Anita Hord and Amy Alvarez, AATC’s education program is back at the head of the class. We delivered 270 hours of training this past year to more than 1,000 Association members. Our classes included all the basics from leasing to fair housing and pool school, as well as all of NAAs credential programs, plus our Big League Education Conference last fall that was an out-of-the-park home run. I’m also happy to report that nearly all of our education programs are sell-outs. Do you have a desire to learn? Then check-out AATC’s class schedule this fall and be determined to learn something new during the months to come.

Our infamous Divas Cup enjoyed another year of success. Thank you, Cindi Scoggins, for hosting our highly popular over-the-top ladies golf tournament. The work you do provides much-needed education sponsorships and top-notch keynote speakers for our annual education conference. Our Divas Cup is most definitely a hole-in-one.

I believe it was President Eisenhower, who said, “the most important quality of great leadership is unquestionable integrity.” That’s just one of the many leadership essentials we share with our Lyceum candidates. Thank you, Darcy Bixby, for leading another top-notch Leadership Lyceum class. I bet many don’t know that the ten most recent AATC presidents, as well as several of our TAA and NAA leaders, are AATC Lyceum grads.

 I’m thankful for our wonderful vendor members who consistently exceed my highest expectations. Jackie Cagle and her PSC advisory board met regularly to host meaningful discussions designed to strengthen relationships between the Association’s owner-managers and our vendor partners. We currently have 17 members of AATC’s President’s Club—members investing more than $10,000 a year into the Association’s programs—simply amazing.

Last year’s Trade Show at the Arlington Convention Center featured 164 supplier-partners exhibiting their products and services in 200 exhibition booths for nearly 1,500 in attendance. Our 2018 show was also unique in that we gave away a completely restored ‘67 Chevy Camaro. The culmination of our year-long 50th anniversary was a classic event that we’re still talking about. Thanks, Jeff Duerstock for hosting one of the greatest shows on Earth!

Communicating in the digital age brings an entirely new perspective. The people we serve are rapidly moving from “page turns” to “page views” and “sentence fragments” to “hits.” Dimensions Online continues to grow while our AATCnet.org website delivers the primary source of Association information. We sent more than 267,000 emails last year – and yes, you read most of them. Laura Williams, thanks for leading the charge.

Adam Keck’s team hosted another national record-setting Maintenance Mania program last February. It’s incredible to see 500 maintenance techs and 800 cheerleaders in a room yelling to encourage the fastest. By the way, maintenance guys and gals – you can no longer convince me that it takes an hour to change a garbage disposal because I’ve seen you do it in 20 seconds! Jason Wyles, thanks for representing your fellow Texans at the Maintenance Mania national championship. Great job, sir!

Advocacy anchors another side of the Association’s bedrock foundation. Our government affairs program chaired this year by Michael Payne worked to strengthen relationships with our government leaders. There are very few mayors, council members, JPs, legislators, or congressional leaders in Tarrant County that we failed to engage. And, when the going gets tuff, I think you know we’re not afraid to step-up and represent you. If you haven’t heard, after 3½ years of intense legal discussions, we’re anticipating the City of Bedford will soon approve a far-more-reasonable apartment inspection program—saving our members time and money plus providing them with an opportunity to be responsible managers rather than adversaries. Many thanks for the support we received from nearly all of our Bedford stakeholders, as well as our friends in Dallas, Austin, and our leaders with NAA. Representing your best interests was a fight worth fighting. Michael Payne, you’re amazing!

Last month’s Business Exchange led by Ian Mattingly set another national record for federal PAC fundraisers. Thanks to many of you in this room, we raised $158,000 for NAA’s PAC – money we’ll direct to help open a few doors in the minds of national decision-makers. If you missed this year’s Exchange, you missed an excellent opportunity to assure current business relationships as well as launch profitable new ones. If you’re an owner-manager, there’s no better place to see and hear what you need for your properties while supporting an important national cause.

For some strange undefinable reason, doing business has become an excuse for playing golf—or is it the other way around? Whichever you choose, 5 hours of conversation at a traditional golf course or 3 hours of more intense discussions at a Top Golf party has created a great way for our members to enjoy one another as well as transact a ton of business. Wesley Chapman and his team successfully produced $50,000 worth of state and local PAC dollars by hosting two highly-successful events this past year. Thanks so very much!

Past-president Char McCurdy launched a unique new fundraiser 2-years ago that we branded the Cowtown Epicurean Dinner. This past year, we wined and dined ourselves in an exclusive atmosphere at Fort Worth’s unique Whiskey Ranch. In the end, we put another $16,000 into the AATC PAC. It appears golf is no longer the only excuse for doing business. Great food and adult beverages have entered the game! Thanks to Jeff Duerstock for helping me make the annual Epicurean Dinner a great time on the town.

 Since I’m spending a lot of time talking about fundraisers, let’s talk some more about another essential part of the Association’s vision—community service. I’ll never be able to thank Keith McAndrew and the AAGD team enough for putting $81,000 into the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots campaign. You guys helped hundreds of kids enjoy a great Christmas. And if that’s not enough, thanks to the support of our members, we’re looking for helpful ways to spend $35,000 provided by this year’s Bowling Tournament. Union Gospel Mission of Fort Worth has been AATC’s community service partner for more than 20-years. Thanks to you, we’re determined to continue making a difference.

Cayce Coon and her Lyceum class first helped us respond to the need for housing for our homeless veterans, then John Gillespie stepped-in to help make that desire become a reality. After reaching out to our generous members, during the past 12-months AATC has helped more than 180 veterans find a comfortable apartment home. Thank you, John, for helping us respond to our veterans who’ve served us in ways we’ll never be able to appreciate fully.

Many may not know AATC has a unique program designed to quietly share our joy as well as our support for members of our leadership team who’ve experienced major life events – the good times and the hard times when our hearts and minds are working overtime. Becca Brown joyfully took-on this job and expanded its scope. She asked our board to help support the kids at Union Gospel Mission. If you’ve never seen Dee Cagle in a Hawaiian Santa outfit or Adam Keck with a challenging kid on his lap, then you must have missed our Christmas in July program at the Mission. Becca, it makes my heart happy to see the love you so abundantly share with people who need a helping hand.

This year’s Lone Star Awards has enjoyed a record-setting 273 nominations featuring 135 individual and community nominees spread across 14 award categories. Five weeks of nominee evaluations by 42 judges concluded in mid-August and on September 27, we’ll celebrate everyone involved including each of this year’s award winners. Patty Utley and her team did a fabulous job. Rest assured, heading up an event like this is no easy task. Thank you, Patty, for making it happen!

I’d be negligent if I didn’t share my appreciation for our leadership team, including AATCs executive officers, board of directors, committee chairs, and our wonderful staff. The work these people do is the reason I wanted to serve as your president.

In addition to me, this year’s officers include Past-presidents – Char McCurdy (Summit) and Sherry Jordan (LumaCorp); Treasurer – Jason Busboom (Busboom Group); and Secretary – Michael Payne (Allmark). Thank you all so very much.

Your board of directors include Darcy Bixby (Westdale); Paul Brown (MSHQ); Jackie Cagle (Rasa); Brenda Carpenter (MFI); Cayce Coon (Madera); Jeff Duerstock (Updater); John Gillespie (WAK); Anita Hord (Pace); Victor Huhem (Huhem Law Firm); Adam Keck (ATI); Jinger Lane (Lincoln); Keith McAndrew (The Liberty Group); Charles Stroud (ATI); Patty Utley (BH); Dawn Waye (CityGate); and Laura Williams (ALN). You’re the leaders of the band.

And, the balance of your committee chairs, those also serving as ex-officio directors include Amy Alvarez (MFI); Becca Brown (BG Multifamily); Wesley Chapman (Parking Badge); Bryan Downer (Community Enrichment Center); Mike Follis (Apartments.com); Lani Grant (Impact Floors); Ian Mattingly (LumaCorp); and Cindi Scoggins (Westdale). Your guidance and enthusiasm have been nothing short of fantastic.

To all of you, over 1,700 members, please remember that you have a choice, a voice, and the ability to make a difference. It was a privilege for us to serve you. Together, we’ve most definitely made a difference.

You’ve heard me say or perhaps read this encouraging quote from me many times during the past few months – Keep your shoulders back and your hearts open, my friends.

Adios amigos! Au revoir, mon ami! Thank you so very much!

Nicolle Block has served in many Association leadership capacities; most recently as AATCs 47th president during the past 52-years. For more information regarding AATCs programs, go to AATCnet.org or reach out to any member of the Association’s staff. We’d be pleased to help.