Bill Morris in Board Operations on April 25, 2019
This article is part of our occasional series, “The Previous Lives of Property Managers.”
Ismet Radoncic was a successful small businessman in the former Yugoslavia when he started seeing fights in the streets, murders, police shootouts. So in the early 1990s he gathered up his wife, Remzija, and their two young sons and fled to Rome. The family arrived with $15 and what they could carry. Their homeland, what is now Montenegro, was soon drenched in ethnic strife and bloodshed.
“It was madness, and I can remember small fragments,” says the elder son, Anes Radoncic (pronounced RAD-on-chich), now 30 and living in Leonia, New Jersey. “When we arrived in Rome we knew we were in for a bumpy ride because we were war refugees.”
The family spent a year living in a room in a former monastery that housed refugees fleeing the war-torn Balkans. Anes and his brother Armin roamed the streets like characters in a Dickens novel, plucking coins out of fountains so they would have something in their pockets. Eventually the family flew to New York, where an aunt was a live-in super on the Upper East Side. The family moved into a spare room in her apartment. Ismet found work as a painter, Remzija as a cleaning lady. The boys accompanied their parents on jobs, painting baseboards, scraping paint, cleaning toilets. Work was a given.
When Ismet and Remzija saved enough to rent an apartment in Astoria, Queens, the boys continued to hustle, selling used toys and lemonade and iced tea from a street stand, collecting bottles. By the end of first grade Anes could count to 100 in English, a major achievement. By the end of second grade he knew his ABC’s.
After a brief stint as a super in Freeport, Long Island, Ismet got a super’s job back in Astoria, and the boys started doing light plumbing and electric work for him, hanging sheetrock, learning how to run boilers. After graduating from high school, Anes moonlighted as a security guard while studying business management at Queensborough Community College. All the while he was courting a young lady from the Bronx named Alisa Redzic, keeping in touch through – what else? – social media. They married in 2010, the year after Anes finished his college studies, and they now have two young daughters.
Given their upbringing, it was probably inevitable that Anes and Armin would go into property management. They worked in the back office at J.C. Management Services, handling work orders, soliciting new business. Armin stayed, but Anes, the restless one, moved on. “I’m hustling, always going to job interviews, always looking for something better,” he says. Then came a day of reckoning: “I had worked for boutiques and big management companies, and I’ve always believed I can do it better. Is this really what I want to do – make all this money for other people? My brother and I started talking about buying out our companies and merging.”
And so, in the fall of 2017, Venture New York Property Management was born in Long Island City, Queens. Its staff of 11 handles 52 properties, mostly co-ops and condominiums, and the growing company is guided by principles forged during the founders’ hardscrabble upbringing.
“Property management is about dealing with personalities,” Anes says, “and our philosophy is intimacy. The size of the building doesn’t matter. What matters is the personalities of the board, their expectations. Our job is to create a self-sustaining system in the building that keeps the board from getting bogged down in minutiae. This actually gives them a life and lets them focus on the big picture. I will not manage a building if the board has unrealistic expectations and treats its management company like a personal assistant.”
Anes believes the company’s success is built on something simple, yet profound. “It’s appreciation,” he says. “As somebody who had nothing growing up, I can put myself in somebody else’s shoes. I can almost shape-shift, depending on who I’m talking to, and genuinely feel what they’re going through. When we get a new building, I’m grateful – I’m actually proud – and I want to make them proud for choosing us.”
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