Supporting the Industry Through Education

Posted By: Jim Wiard (deleted) Articles, Industry Trends, WMFHA Updates,

With an increased focus on team associates’ personal and professional development and creating a culture of valuing team members, it has never been more important than to give back to employees by exposing them to life-long learning.

The industry has had to innovate over the past few years. Keeping up with new ideas and best practices is crucial to getting back to a sense of normalcy.

Last month, after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, WMFHA held the largest one-day educational conference and trade show exhibition in the area – EdCon. Over 1,100 attendees enjoyed a robust day of learning, connecting, and growing.

There certainly was an enhanced excitement in the air, with obvious pent-up demand for an in-person networking and training event.


The day included 24 separate training sessions taught by outstanding subject matter experts. They provided relevant content on subjects related to customer service, leadership, legal, leasing and marketing, and operational best practices.

Several sessions focused on topics relevant to maintenance service personnel, such as appliance repairs, hot water heater repairs, budgeting for maintenance, and top ten plumbing issues. 

Russ Pengelly from ApartmentAdvisor and Greg Cerbana from Weidner Apartment Homes kicked off the day with inspirational words on why investing in our associates and future leaders is important to our member companies and the industry as a whole.

Both Russ and Greg have leadership ties to the National Apartment Association and can attest to the success and quality of our local member organizations and their extraordinary teams.  

Brett Waller, General Counsel for HNN Communities, spoke on post-eviction moratorium operations and legal compliance. Brett explained that it is more important to keep up on all the changes to laws in the state and locally than ever.

Jessica Fern-Kirkland, who never disappoints with her thoughtful classes, spoke of the critical skills needed to succeed on purpose and avoid six common pitfalls leaders face when transitioning from surviving into thriving. 

You Bet Your Assets, taught by Victoria Cowart from PetScreening, Inc., covered the complicated topic of service animals vs. support animals and what you need to know about reasonable accommodations.

Other valuable classes included: Multifamily Tech Trends, Surviving the Great Resignation, Who is Interviewing Whom, The University of Life, and It’s All About Conflict (Resolution).


The Learn. Connect. Grow. Executive Leadership Panel once again thrilled attendees with real-world advice from proven leaders of their field, inspiring attendees to chart their own rewarding career paths.

Learning from others always gives inspiration to attendees to pursue their passion, build their professional network, and connect with peers and mentors. Each of us has had relationships with people who have helped us in our career path, and giving back to others so they can grow their career is rewarding, panelists shared.


The most powerful session of the day focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion, led by Greystar Management’s DEI team. They discussed how embracing diversity and building inclusive spaces has a ripple effect far past your organization.

This experienced team brought the audience real-world insight into why the stakes are so high and the rewards so great when everyone is valued and heard. They also shared valuable tips on how a company and its employees can participate in DEI conversations personally and professionally.

One of the most popular classes for maintenance associates was the series on appliance repairs, covering GE laundry room and kitchen appliances. The skill level of onsite teams to make repairs to appliances saves a property a lot of money in contract repair costs. These savings can get passed along to residents. 

National speaker Zach Howell from BEAR Consulting Services, a fan favorite, presented classes on preventive maintenance and post-Covid maintenance trends.

Better Together

Over 80 industry supplier partner companies exhibited the most updated products and services in the expansive EdCon trade show, meeting with attendees to offer advice and help solve daily problems.

The innovation of our member supplier partner companies in their products and services never disappoints.

WMFHA has the best supplier members in the industry and the promotion of a Members Using Members (MUM) philosophy ensures mutual support among our entire membership. 

Once again, the highlight of the day was the Maintenance Mania! skills competition, a maintenance Olympics of sorts, with seven challenging timed games built from maintenance materials and representing repairs or installations done at most apartment communities. 

Awards and cash prizes rewarded competitors vying for the lowest times of the competition, with a chance to go to the national Maintenance Mania! event hosted by the National Apartment Association in San Diego this summer.

The pinnacle of the Maintenance Mania! games is the car race event. Soapbox derby-style cars, made in part from everyday maintenance materials, pits cars head-to-head for bragging rights and cash. 

The thrill of building a car and racing it down a steep ramp, and hitting the finish line in top time, brings back the young kid in all of us.

Invest in Yourself

No matter the career path, interpersonal relationships are essential in the apartment industry. Your interactions will range from your colleagues and residents to supplier partners. Your ability to network with different people daily can open you up to opportunities you never knew existed. 

That is why participation in your local housing association is a critical part of your long-term career strategy and helps to give back to the industry that serves you and your companies.

By investing in your employees' training and success, your company can increase property performance and better serve the valuable residents of our apartment communities.