- a message from Anthony Luna, Vice President
On New Year's Eve last year, I celebrated with my wife and a close group of friends in New York City. As we joyously celebrated the ringing of the New Year while staring at the Centennial Ball drop, the last thing any of us could have imagined was a global pandemic. Little did any of us know that this evening would be the last time we saw each other, our friends, and family.
January started like any other year for my real estate advisory and property management firm. Our property managers were preparing for a year full of capital projects. The tax code's recent adjustments meant many of our real estate investor clients were planning to spend generously on renovations and property improvements.
By late February, our team was quietly planning for what we imaged would be some worst-case scenario. We could not fathom this worst-case scenario coming true in our wildest dreams, but we planned, prepared, and worked through potential scenarios. We prepared for the potential of working from home, created new procedures, and retrained our team on the software systems we had available to us. Within a few shorts days, it became clear that we needed to execute our plan.
Our property management, accounting, and executive teams all went 100% virtual with the flip of a switch. Initially, our property managers only went into the field for emergencies. Our maintenance team solely focused on exterior projects and life safety issues in the pandemic's initial weeks. Our entire team began meeting virtually every morning for an "all hands call." Initially, these calls were to check in on our team's mental health, get a pulse on the business, and strategize further. Eventually, our morning calls became a way to keep our team engaged and focus on moving the business forward.
Within a few short days of the initial "Stay at Home" orders, our phones began ringing with tenants' requests for rent relief and lease modifications. Together, our executive team and property managers began collecting requests, pulling necessary data, and negotiating with tenants on behalf of our clients.
During the early weeks, my partner and I would be on the phone into the late hours of the night. We were doing our best to reassure our tenants that we would do all we could to help their businesses survive or explaining to our residential tenants that they would not be evicted during the state of emergency.
On the other end, we worked with our clients to restructure debt, negotiate loan terms, and forecast their property budgets. Internally, we knew that our clients and tenants would fall shorter than they expected for 2020, but we wanted to do our best to ensure everyone survived the initial wave of the pandemic.
2020 has been a year of many firsts for us all. It is a year that will be hard to forget, even if we wish we could. As I reflect on 2020 and prepare my team for 2021, I feel more prepared for the course ahead. Our financial projections are more conservative, our ancillary income is diversified, and our team is highly trained for the work in front of us. Tonight, I raise my glass to a prosperous new year ahead of us.