Taking it to the MAXX

April 17, 2017

As a company with a strong emphasis on education, business know-how, and an even stronger sense of family, MAXX Properties has grown from a New York-based multifamily management firm to a national company with property holdings in seven states.

In 1907, Max Wiener left Russia and made his entrance into the U.S. through Ellis Island. With his family in tow and a strong work ethic, Max had the hope and desire to see his family succeed. Instilling the importance of education into his children, he pushed them toward achieving great things. Eventually, he began a property management firm with his son, Ralph, and they made their first property purchase in Brooklyn.

“MAXX Properties is one of those great American stories about a migration to the U.S. and building a business with funds from family and friends,” says Edward Lange, Jr., newly-appointed CEO at MAXX Properties in New York. Using these funds, Max and Ralph grew the firm that would later span seven states.

The expansion to different territories was a no-brainer, says Andrew Wiener, managing director of MAXX Properties, and great-grandson of Max. “New York is a prohibitively expensive market. Our strategy was diversification—more units for less money,” Wiener explains. “Rick Wiener, vice chair of the company in Colorado, moved out to Colorado and saw it as the next market opportunity.” That initial expansion was almost 30 years ago.

Florida provided value not seen elsewhere and the barrier of entry for business was not as high as the barrier to enter in New York, Wiener says. Similar instances occurred with expansion to Arizona. In Utah, they saw an increased and stable demand for rental properties.

Around the start of the millennium, Lange says, “the portfolio was predominantly New York ... The team began to look at markets with opportunity and value-add strategy as places to improve returns.”

As a closely-held, family-managed firm, MAXX Properties enters new regions with the intent of managing the properties themselves. This organic, holistic management strategy supports the 300 associates in the two corporate offices and service centers, as well as the leasing experts at each location. Most of the firm’s associates have been with the company a long time.

Always Looking to the Future

After the Great Recession, MAXX Properties had to sit down and think about their future.

“It hit everyone at the table. It shook the foundation,” says Wiener. “It made us sit down and think about who we are, where we’re going, what are our strengths and weaknesses. We decided to approach growth one building at a time.”

They noticed that the markets in Utah and Arizona were more volatile while their New York properties remained consistent, bread-and-butter assets. Wanting to capitalize on that and continue their legacy, they strategically angled into the headwind and doubled down on current investments. This helped them achieve a long-term view to navigate the recession and hopefully exit on the other side unscathed and stronger than before.

Part of that redirect has been a strategic focus on improving the customer experience. “There’s a chunk of self-identity associated with how we live,” Lange explains. “We want it to feel like a place they own.” And by working to keep the living experience positive, the more they believe they’ll retain renters as loyal customers.

“We have a reputation—do it and do it right. Do it once. Follow through. Competitors say the same about us,” Wiener says.

MAXX Properties’ future is all about responsible growth, similar to the way their territory expansion occurred in the past. Always striving to create a residential experience with customization, Wiener says all team members get together to determine what success continues to look like for their company.

Lange echoes that sentiment, explaining that MAXX Properties gives its eye to growth and strategy, while delivering an experience to customers and a work environment for employees that’s well nurtured. “We balance the two. And we’re now considering outside funding for the first time,” Lange says.

While the family-owned and -operated firm has always focused on working with capital already earned or provided from family, relationships with institutions like Sterling National Bank have made a difference in how funds and purchases are handled. As a multi-decade client of Sterling, MAXX Properties uses electronic banking, deposits, and fund movement services.

“SNB is our go-to bank for nontraditional transactions. They are our first point of contact. They’re professional on the phone and bring tools to the table. We take advantage of the opportunity,” Wiener says.

Moving forward, MAXX Properties will look to Sterling for help with introductions for venture partnership developments. John Colardi, CFO, says that as the firm continues to grow, Sterling has been flexible and quick to react.

In fact, MAXX Properties’ relationship manager at Sterling was integral in the development of a new property by initiating an introduction for an opportunity. Fast-forward a year, and Maxx Properties, in conjunction with that new business, is building a 21-unit property.

“I can tell you, none of that would have happened if it hadn’t been for [our relationship manager] and his team thinking we should meet and have further discussions. He knew from both sides there was mutual interest in joining forces. It was a really nice union and you don’t see that with other banks like we have with Sterling,” Wiener says.

With Sterling on their side, the management team at MAXX Properties plans to steer toward protecting core values while continuing to improve on business processes. Improving within the company first, Wiener says, ensures that the company continues to deliver an experience that propels them to profit.

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