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Upgrading Is His Business

Greg Fricke, board president

2 Tudor City, Manhattan

 

 

Call it a question of balance – both literally and figuratively. First, there is the issue of balancing temperatures in a large property. And then there’s the issue of balancing shareholder cost concerns. In each case, Greg Fricke has risen to the occasion. In 2002, soon after he became board president at 2 Tudor City (the nickname of the 333-unit Manhattan co-op is The Gardens), he took the lead in instituting energy-saving programs that tackled, among other things, improved heat distribution throughout the property. Not long afterward, he took the lead in bringing cogeneration to his co-op. It’s no wonder he is so interested in mechanical systems; he is merely using the skills he developed during 40 years in building trades. He was chairman and CEO of the Fleet Companies for more than 38 years. Fleet is involved in the design and service of engineered products for the plumbing, heating, and electrical control markets throughout the New York metropolitan area. He is also presently serving as a consultant for Leonard Powers, which specializes in the repair and installation of high-pressure steam systems. Married, with three grown children (two of whom own apartments at 2 Tudor City), the nearly 80-year-old Fricke can’t imagine slowing down. “You have to take care of these things,” he says. “My personal philosophy is that you make sure the infrastructure is maintained properly. I don’t believe in putting off repairs. Things only become worse.”

 

Ten years ago, when we last talked to you, you were busy installing a cogeneration system. How is it going?

It’s been online now for 10 years. We’re in the process of upgrading it to the next generation, which will give some standby power for at least one passenger elevator on each side of the building plus one house pump that will allow us to bring the fresh water up to the roof tank. We’ll have fresh water and also have the elevators, at least one on either side, so that people living on the upper floors in a power failure aren’t stuck. That’s a big deal. We’re constantly doing something to upgrade the building. We just finished an oil-to-gas conversion, so that’s up and running. That took forever. God bless Con Edison. They can find a thousand reasons to delay a project. We went online [at] the end of January. Up to that point we were burning very expensive Number 2 fuel oil, which was killing me. We’re off of that.

 

Why did you run for the board?

I came here because my daughter was living in the building. We had moved from Westchester down to Hilton Head Island and bought a house down there. After three and a half years, we looked at each other and said, “All our grandchildren are in New York. What are we doing down here?” We came back to New York, but decided we would not go back to White Plains. We checked out Tudor City, particularly Number 2, which was where my daughter was living, and we decided we were going to come here. At that particular time, though, my son-in-law was the president of 2 Tudor City. He knew of my background and said, “Would you be interested in serving on the board?” I said, “I’ll tell you what. I’ll sit in for a year and just listen.” That’s exactly what I did. Then after somebody left, I got appointed. I’ve been here ever since.

 

What appealed to you about Tudor City?

Tudor City is just the quaintest little village that you could find in New York City. It’s really very private. You come off Second Avenue, and you don’t hear any of that noise. You hear an occasional siren or fire truck going down 41st Street, but you don’t have all that din of noise. The parks lend a great deal of comfort to the area, not only for the kids because there are two playgrounds, but [also] for the adults. I find myself sitting out there. I have a terrace, but it’s nice to sit in the park with a book and just read or read your papers. It’s like being in a little town.

What do you like to read?

Right now I’m reading one of Bill O’Reilly’s books, The Killing of Patton. It’s very interesting.

 

What do you do in your spare time?

I don’t have any. [laughs] I’m going to be 80 years old in August. I’m busy every day. It’s like having a full-time job. It’s something that’s become a routine. People say, “Please, don’t ever leave.” Nothing lasts forever, but I enjoy it.

 

What do you enjoy most?

It’s being able to make improvements in the building that I see are needed. It’s like being in your own house, and you know you need a new roof, and now you’ve got to go about it or some other major repair of some sort. I focus on that stuff, and then we try to find ways to pay for it. We’ve close to $3 million in our reserve fund. That allows us to do a lot of things, but we’re always looking for ways of putting money back into that reserve fund, which we do on a regular basis. We’re very good with our investments. We’ve an excellent finance committee. These people are all professionals, and they know what they’re doing.

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