In theory, a slowdown in apartment construction in recent years might lead property owners to take it easy and rest on their laurels. At the same time, that means residents have fewer options when they want to relocate to an apartment community that offers the latest designs and amenities.
Leslie L. Etterbeek, owner and president of LR Management in Troy, doesn’t allow market conditions or other factors to cloud her focus. Her goal is simple: Provide concierge-like services to the more than 12,000 people who reside at 19 properties (3,100 apartments) she manages in metro Detroit and Lansing.
Earlier in her life, Etterbeek attended medical school and was on track to be a neurologist, but she couldn’t shake her love for property management. “It’s like therapy mixed with design for me,” she says. “I like providing new services, overseeing the finances, and staying ahead by adding new elements to the marketplace. Right now, we’re looking at adding dog spas complete with tiled floors and grooming areas.”
Some of the amenities she’s helped bring to the apartment communities she manages include putting greens, gyms, libraries, energy-efficient appliances, LED lighting, UBS ports, and upgraded kitchens. If her properties resemble a four-star hotel, there’s a reason.
“I’d like to double in size in the next few years, and the only way you can set your company apart from the competition is to offer the latest amenities and services,” Etterbeek says. “If residents stay at our communities longer, there’s less need to move people in and out, which can be costly, and your employees tend to stay longer knowing they’re working at a sustainable and forward-thinking company.”
A certified property manager, Etterbeek grew up in the business. Her father, Richard M. Lewiston, built hundreds of homes, apartments, and commercial developments in western Wayne County and around the region. She says his laser-like focus on property management rubbed off.
“He always said you should treat everyone the same, whether they’re living in a mansion, a large apartment, or a small apartment,” she says of her father, who has since retired from the development business. “And the apartments have to look great on the inside and the outside. He was big on curb appeal, the landscaping, even the flowers and what color of flowers.”
Most recently, Etterbeek began managing apartment communities in Southfield and Lansing. “I like to be within 90 miles of the properties so I can drive there easily,” she says of her managed portfolio — which, combined, generated $33.4 million last year (rental total).
“We also began managing packages for our residents,” she adds. “If someone’s not home, we accept the packages and then let them know we have their Amazon box or whatever it is. That trust is what helps set us apart.”