At a Glance
More than 700
Developing and managing multifamily residential communities
What’s a typical day like in your offices?
Pam McGlashen: I know it’s a cliché, but there is no typical day. At Orion, our work focuses on third-party property management, and we work with properties from class A to affordable housing, so today I could be assisting a client with a reconstruction due to fire damage, and tomorrow I could be working with my regional vice presidents on marketing a new property. Orion’s breadth of knowledge about the multifamily market gives us the ability to assist our clients with everything from selling and purchasing to renovations and due diligence. We even offer construction services through our sister company, Allied Construction, if needed.
Why the multifamily market?
PM: When Orion was founded 25 years ago, the partners saw a need to serve owners and developers trying to build quality housing in Texas. Most builders want to build, and they want someone else to handle the day-to-day aspects, so we quickly saw our business skyrocket as the real estate market skyrocketed.
But what happened when the real estate market stopped skyrocketing?
PM: Actually, we’ve added 10,000 units to our business in the past seven years. But while Texas did not have the huge collapse in all areas of the economy that other areas of the country did, I will say that the past three years have been the most challenging of my 30-year career. Although our business didn’t suffer, we did have to rethink the way we did business.
PM: There are so many levels involved now; in today’s market, every asset is being watched by multiple sets of eyes to ensure it doesn’t fall into a challenging financial situation. As a result, we had to streamline our accounting processes, ensure our reporting to owners was appropriately detailed, and be diligent in our monthly financial reviews. We also had to think about new ways to collect, to market, and, in general, to do business while keeping our same culture in place.
How important is the culture at Orion to your success?
PM: I believe 100 percent it has been the key to our success. All our executives came from the ranks; they’ve worked on-site at properties, so they’ve learned from the ground up. Everyone has the ability to succeed here. Everyone at Orion also knows success is about rolling up your sleeves and doing the work. We’re not always going to be perfect, but we will always make it right.
Tell us a little about Orion’s 2125 Yale development.
PM: Located in a historic area of Houston called the Heights, 2125 Yale is a mid-rise development that features 192 class A apartment homes. The property is built on the former site of Kaplan Ben-Hur—the oldest independent department store in Houston before it closed—and has helped revitalize the surrounding neighborhood. When developing the property, we incorporated the site’s history into the design, hanging historic photos of the store in the common areas and using 100-year-old wood flooring—uncovered during the demolition—in the lobby and premier corner units.
As the vice president of property management, what’s your secret to success in this field?
PM: I’ve learned that being a good leader isn’t about working with people who are the most like you, but being able to work with people who are the least like you. It’s easy to hire people just like you, but it’s best to surround yourself with people who possess the skills and strengths you don’t possess. You have to be humble. I am a leader, but I am not always right. The best leaders have the ability to realize other people are smarter than them at certain tasks and may have ideas that add value to the work at hand.
How has the field changed during your professional tenure?
PM: Everyone today has a need for instantaneous information. Technology has added challenges for all industries as we work to make technology work for us, not against us. For me, the downside to technology is that people don’t talk to each other anymore; many people prefer to text or e-mail, and, personally, it’s a trend I would like to see reversed. It’s hard to provide good customer service without personal contact. ABQ