Heather Edwards - Certified Apartment Supplier of the Year

Posted By: Heather Edwards Articles, WMFHA Updates,
National Apartment Association's Certified Apartment Supplier of the Year is our very own Heather Edwards from Apartment Advantage Staffing Services! Our members are absolutely #WMFHAbulous and nationally fabulous as well.

Activities and Involvement:

As Marketing & Training Director for Apartment Advantage Staffing Seattle, I oversee many aspects of our business operations.  I teach our Career Advantage Academy Leasing-In-Training (LIT) classes, bringing new associates into our industry.  Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I have trained 162 rookies. Our team has seen continued growth, provided new career opportunities in property management, and meets the staffing needs of the clients we serve.  I am consistently looking for new and creative ways to brand marketing campaigns and generate business. 

I ensure our social media platforms are active and up to date. Due to these efforts, our online presence has grown by more than 25% over the past two years. 

As Co-Chair of Washington Multi-Family Housing Association's (WMFHA) Marketing Committee, I also support augmenting industry visibility. This opportunity over the past several years has been an opportunity that I wholeheartedly love being part of. I will continue to participate in association committees for many years to come. 

I plan our company’s industry tradeshows and events throughout the year. We sponsor and attend events such as WMFHA's Emerald Awards, EdCon, Business Exchange, and Washington Apartment Outlook. 

I am also charged with recognizing our employee of the month and year and planning quarterly team building and celebratory events. 

My work encompasses organizing and managing our annual charitable giving which includes multiple food drives over the last 7+ years in support of Northwest Harvest and Move for Hunger, our Socktober month in support of Mary’s Place for the last four years, and our annual 12 Days of Giving for the last five years.  Our 12 Days of Giving focuses on helping those less fortunate and thanking those who support our communities, such as our local police and fire departments. 

In addition, I help our company to participate in, sponsor and donate to several association charitable events each year.  The Chili Cook-Off supports Domestic Abuse Women’s Network and is one of the events when we volunteer our time to assist the judges with testing the contestants’ chili.  The Holiday Giving Gala raises funds for Childhaven and gifts for Toys for Tots. It is my favorite event of the year, as it is the perfect start to the holiday season by focusing on giving back to our charitable partners. 

Overall, I feel most successful when I’m helping others reach new heights in their careers.  I love bringing new LIT Agents into the apartment industry and sharing with them my 25+ years of experience, stories, and career growth.  It is incredible to have the opportunity to watch them grow in their careers, especially when they find the perfect apartment community team to join.  Then I can continue to witness their achievements and ultimately be proud when they have their own success story to share.  In the twelve years I have worked for Apartment Advantage Staffing Seattle, it has been humbling to see so many LIT Agents become Assistant Managers, Community Managers, and Emerald Award Nominees!

Job Performance and Professional Accomplishments:

My career started in 1995 when I obtained my real estate license.  Since then, I have completed continuing education coursework to ensure my Managing Brokers license stays active and keep my knowledge on changing industry trends and laws up to date.  This allows my 25+ year career to improve continuously.  Moving from working onsite to corporate housing, I eventually became a recognized and respected vendor partner working with Apartment Advantage Staffing. 

As the Marketing & Training Director, I assist our employees with training, mentorship, and overall career growth support.  When the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, we had to pivot and adjust to support our employees in new ways.  We began holding Virtual LIT classes to continue our renowned industry training services and quickly prepared a plan to provide PPE kits to all employees to make sure they returned to work safely, ensuring we met our clients' staffing needs in the process. 

In addition, I take care of planning all the industry events we participate in, providing our clients with up-to-date information for the staffing support they need.  Throughout the pandemic, our clients knew that we were there each step of the way with them, adjusting and rethinking how things will be done in the industry moving forward. 

During my tenure with Apartment Advantage Staffing, I was honored to be the team member to accept our Industry Partner of the Year Emerald Award in 2012.  I was personally nominated for the Community Service Individual Emerald Award in 2017.  Apartment Advantage was nominated and became a finalist for the Community Service Award in 2020.  I was nominated again for Credential Holder of the Year and became a finalist in 2021. However, I am most proud of my selection by WMFHA for an Emerald Award for Outstanding Volunteer at their 2022 awards gala. This recognition came as a shock, because my participation in association activities has always been because of my love for the industry, not to win any personal award.

One of the aspects of my career in property management that has been the most challenging through the years has been learning the art of delegation.  I have always felt it is best to lead by example in all that I do, which has given me a positive outlook throughout my career and promoted a teamwork-focused environment. 

My most significant leadership growth has been achieved while working for Apartment Advantage Staffing.  Having dedicated, reliable, and trusted colleagues to learn from has allowed us to work together efficiently as a team and achieve excellence in all that we do.  We have steadily built our market share year over year because our team embraces our culture to achieve success and is always willing to go the extra mile to meet our clients' staffing needs.

Why She Deserves to Win the Award:

As a person passionate about and committed to our wonderful industry, I believe it is essential to bring my positivity to our industry, clients, employees, fellow suppliers, and charitable partners.  In this, I have developed a reputation of trust and integrity among my peers. I bring kindness and generosity to all the work that I do. 

In partnership with my local apartment association and our programs at Apartment Advantage Staffing, I have successfully facilitated and participated in many community service programs and events throughout my career.  My most treasured opportunities are giving my time and support to the charities we focus on for the WMFHA Chili Cook-Off, Holiday Giving Gala, Socktober, and the “12 Days of Giving.” Helping our most vulnerable populations: children, seniors, veterans, animals, and the homeless warms my heart to make a difference. 

Dedicated to continuing education for both myself and Apartment Advantage Staffing as a whole, we partnered with NAA, WMFHA, Grace Hill, and several other excellent resources. We’ve given access to a variety of courses to increase industry knowledge, improve leadership skills, and promote career growth.  My philosophy has always been to stay a lifelong learner, and I strive to learn something new every day. 

Earning my CAS credential has shown me that as industry suppliers, we need to be committed to ourselves, our companies, and our clients because what we do has an enormous impact on how the apartment industry operates.  I have a greater sense of achievement and accomplishment and feel more confident that my contributions ensure I “walk the walk” when assisting our clients. 

Being recognized as a Certified Apartment Supplier has given me the ability to see all sides of how property management operates. I can effectively put myself in the industry’s shoes to see how the staffing services impact communities now and long term.  The support I’ve received from fellow suppliers, clients, supervisors, employees, and the great industry resources available to me during my tenure in property management allows me to constantly improve, grow in my career, develop professionally, and continue to become the successful person I am today.