For This Select Group: It’s Been Nearly 30 Years of Joyful Work at BH
The most tenured employees talk about what has kept them at BH, and what they love about the company.
The BH employee family continues to flourish at 2,800 people strong and growing. This year’s 30th Anniversary is an ideal time to celebrate our culture and those who live it every day.
There are few who understand BH’s storied success more than its longest-tenured employees. Seven dedicated staff members have worked the past 25+ years with the company, serving a variety of roles while delivering on the BH Mission.
The group includes Antonio Dewhart, Groundskeeper (29 years); Angela Holt, Regional Manager (29 years); Melony Collins, Regional Manager (28 years); Melissa Cox, Property Accounts Payable Specialist (27 years); and Sandra Stewart, Senior Regional Vice President (27 years); Leonard Malvo, Maintenance Technician (26 years); Jennifer Dubeck, Regional Manager (25 years).
Leadership and Support Starts at the Top
Receiving company support from the top and from their colleagues is the common thread for this committed group.
That comes from BH insisting on work-life balance, offering flexibility and uniquely fantastic benefits that are hard to find in this industry, and the opportunity for associates to grow their careers.
“A main reason why I remain at BH is all the amazing humans I get to work with daily,” Sandra says.
“You never have to look far to see someone willing to help you celebrate the victories or prepare for the challenges.”
Jennifer began as a leasing consultant and steadily moved up, and today, she’s a regional manager. She said that Sandra was one of her most supportive colleagues early on.
“I still remember when there were only two other people in the corporate office,” Jennifer says. “Everyone was busy, but you knew you would get what you needed if you asked about something. That’s not always the case in this evolving industry. I’d say today it’s a BH trademark.”
As the company has grown significantly to become the eighth largest property management company in the country, Jennifer said that dependability hasn’t changed.
“Now it’s more people with more tools who know more things in more areas – and they do all still get back to you,” she says.
Putting People First
BH President & CEO Joanna Zabriskie says, “We are in the business of putting people first, both in our communities and at work. Compassion and humility light our way, allowing us to foster growth, connectedness, and a better livelihood for our residents and employees.”
That philosophy originated in 1993 with the Founder and Chairman of BH Equities and BH Management Services, Harry Bookey (fun fact: the BH company name is his initials, backward).
“Harry is a great guy and owner, and he is the main reason I’ve stayed this long,” Angela says.
She still remembers that on her first day, Harry called her property and was more interested in learning about the residents who were moving in, and not about how much rent was being charged, or occupancy data.
Sandra says Harry’s vision, integrity, and sincere desire to provide quality housing and employment for folks, while ensuring a healthy return for investors, puts BH among the elite property management companies.
She said that when Joanna was brought on board as a company leader in 2013, it helped to drive the team toward its mission, creating spaces where people live and thrive.
BH’s mission is to embrace evolution, create community, have the guts for greatness, hear every voice, and do business the right way.
Leonard said what he’s enjoyed most in his years is the understanding of how to treat residents.
“You’ve got to have some love for people if you work in this industry,” he said “You have to be understanding and not judgmental. When you do that, they treat you better.”
Leonard said he was not in any hurry to go anywhere else.
“I’ve never found a better place to work than at BH,” he said. “There’s no better company. Great people.”
Colleague Support and Memories
“BH is my family and always has been,” Melissa says. “Our company’s understanding of work-life balance and flexibility has enabled me to learn different areas within the company all while growing personally and raising a family.”
Sandra appreciates that so many BH employees have shared so much over the years: weddings, births, graduations, and celebrations large and small.
“We’ve shown a deep commitment to being there for each other and during those challenging times such as 9-11, recessions, major weather events, and market fluctuations,” she says.
Looking back, Melissa says the kindness and warm welcome she received from everyone on her first day is what stands out.
Melony adds that the “awesome support” is everywhere, ever since her first day. “I was new in the industry and BH was taking over the community [where I worked],” she says. “They were so welcoming. I was extremely excited.”
How BH Has Improved Over the Years
Witnessing the growth of not only BH’s property and unit count (Sandra, for example, had a 21-community portfolio in seven cities shortly after she began), but the addition of support departments with their unique expertise has been invaluable.
When Angela started at the company, “We barely had a desktop computer and there was no internet,” she says. “I started as a community manager, then became a floating manager, then an acquisitions/travel coordinator, and now I’m a regional manager.
“When I started, the same guy did HR and processed payables. Now we have all these support departments to assist as needed. The automation of processes has been extraordinary.”
Sandra said the department expansion was rolled out, not as a “change,” but as a way to “embrace a new way to manage,” helping BH further excel in property operations.
“We continue to be very tech-forward in exploring new programs and systems,” she said.
Laughingly, Jennifer said there was a time early in her career when she thought she was a marketing genius.
“We’d get some reports and put together our pricing manual,” she says. “We thought we were so smart. We were B properties and we saw what rent the As and Cs were charging, and we’d fit ourselves in. Today, this has become a more specialized position with a lot more data. You can see the border outline of markets, demand forecasts, and more. It gives you so much more confidence in your decisions.”
Melissa says the upgrades from handwritten phone messages to voicemail, letter dictation to email, and monster computers to slim laptops show progression.
While BH continues to manage communities within its fluctuating portfolio, the culture, attitude, and dedication to the mission have never been stronger.