According to an article in the Cooperator New York, “If you had to name the single most valuable individual to your co-op or condo, who would it be? Certainly, your board president, managing agent, corporate counsel and accountant are key players. But boards and residents should never underestimate the importance of a competent, conscientious Superintendent. The condition of your building's mechanical systems, how well-maintained its public areas are and even aspects of its financial condition can all be traced to how well your Superintendent performs.”
But your Super doesn’t just manage the building - he or she manages the people in it. (We’ll use "he" for the remainder of the article for simplicity.) “The best Superintendents not only have technical skills, but also understand how to supervise and manage people, how to communicate productively with the board, management and residents, and how to deal honestly and effectively with the myriad of vendors and contractors who service the building,” according to Steve Kessler, Director of Management at Andrews Building Corp in Manhattan.
It's All About Communication
The main issue between Supers and tenants often comes down to how problems are communicated i.e. complaints about noise, broken appliances, clutter inside and outside the building, rent (even though they are not legally allowed to collect it), problem tenants and so on. The Super generally sees it as his job to solve the things he can and come up with a suitable middle ground for the ones he can’t.
Unfortunately, when it comes to rent increases, neighborhood construction projects, police sirens or nasty neighbors, there is only so much a Super can do. So instead of complaining to him about what isn’t possible for him to fix, say “thanks” for the things he IS doing to improve conditions in the building.
How Supers Make Things Better
Things are happening behind the scenes every day.
For example, if you have ever woken up to clear sidewalks after a particularly heavy snow storm, remember it was the Super, his staff or a vendor he hired, that cleared it. Let your Super know you appreciate his fast thinking. It's that kind of preparation that gets you out and about without delay.
If you have continuously running elevators, a clean lobby and working heating and cooling systems, again thank your Super. We often take for granted the work required to keep everything running smoothly. "People need to be educated to the fact that the Super has studied to do his job and that he has the ability to potentially save the building tens of thousands of dollars," says Pat Goldwater, Vice President of Aptek Management.
Sustainable Solutions that Cut Costs and Make Money
As Goldwater points out, another contribution Supers make is to explore ways to save money or cut costs. One of the major areas to cut costs in high rise apartment buildings involves trash removal and recycling.
So next trash day, look around. If your building’s trash is compacted and your recyclables (cardboard, plastic and so on) are baled, thank your Super for doing you, and the earth, a solid. Not only does compacting and baling trash lead to cleaner, clutter-free spaces inside and outside your building, it can have an impact on keeping building fees down for EVERYONE.
In densely populated cities like New York City, the cost of trash removal is high and fees related to additional pick-ups are even higher. By reducing the number of trash pick-ups and by baling recyclables, the Super is decreasing the number of trash pick-ups needed each week and may even be getting premium rates from recyclers for the cardboard and plastic bales - all while keeping those sidewalks clear for tenants and vendors who visit the building throughout the day. By compacting and baling trash on-site, business can reduce trash volume by up to 90 percent, reduce costs by about 50 percent and bring in money through recycling.
A Little Thanks Can Go a Long Way
So the next time your Super strolls by you to fix, shovel or bale cardboard boxes to help maintain the beauty and cleanliness of your building, say “Thanks.” A little appreciation can go a long way.