Interface Student Housing Conference

This past week LeaseMagnets had the privilege of attending the Interface Student Housing Conference in Austin, Texas. The conference featured industry leaders from across the country who shared their thoughts on trends, challenges, and successes.


ESI, Guerdon, FaverGray, Weitz

ESI, Tanner Job & Rinaldo Hunt - ESI is a construction company based in Meridian, Idaho that specializes in development across many different divisions including; Student Housing, Multifamily, Commercial, Retail, Industrial, Federal , and more. They are the largest student housing contractor in the state of Idaho and have built projects in California and Nevada as well. They are currently operating in 43 states. What differentiates ESI from others in the business is their unique commitment to safety, training, and ability to travel. “We are rather nimble for our size, and have a lot of different crews that travel well. We can service multi-site and market needs for clients at a rather large scale” says Rinaldo. According to this ESI duo, the onset of COVID-19 has caused roadblocks in terms of material prices and labor shortages but through it all ESI has been able to offer services to build facilities that house amenities students care about the most. According to Job & Hunt, these include features such as bike acces, storage, computer rooms, study spaces, and a recent push towards single, private, bedrooms and bathrooms. According to Tanner, when it comes to construction in the student housing industry, “Everything is a little different. It’s all its own puzzle. Every owner wants something new and there are lots of parties involved. This makes the end product so much more gratifying and we have a sense of pride in our work. That’s also why I love this industry most.”

Guerdon, Joe Uhlenkott - Guerdon is a pioneer in the area of modular construction. Their technology combines traditional on-site construction with an off-site factory assembly line process. They are especially prevalent in affordable and market rate apartment industries and have been changing the game of student housing! After sitting down with Joe, a business development manager who has been in the industry for years, it became apparent that modular is the wave of the future, saving on construction time by an average of 9-15 months. Joe describes the industry as “similar to adult legos” and explained how “you’re really only confined to transportation space. Once you get going on a production line, you end up building 6 apartments every day. It's amazing.” Currently, Guerdon has a strong reputation and is paving the way for many new players in the industry. Joe explains that they are in expansion mode and now building multiple facilities across the US! 

FaverGray, Paige Rosenberger - FaverGray is a leading student housing general contractor based in Jacksonville, Florida. We had the privilege of speaking with Paige Rosenberger, Director of Marketing, who described how “Student Housing and Multi-Family are FaverGray’s bread and butter.” They have completed more than 100 student housing projects all of which were on time and within budget. As construction managers and project managers, FaverGray promotes a “team first” mentality with all members of the construction team: owner, architect, engineers, subcontractors, and regulatory agencies. This spirit of cooperation is fostered during pre-construction and continued beyond project completion. Working alongside such trusted partners helped the company navigate shortages and challenges that the pandemic brought about. Paige explained that “In the student housing industry, any chance for delays are completely off-limits. We understand the demands to maximize space and dollars on a tight site, placing heads in beds as a priority. Our team works closely with developers and owners to finish on time and minimize disruptions to students and the community." With her 10+ years of marketing experience, Paige has helped bring new and creative marketing strategies to FaverGray. “I love working in the construction industry and I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn from our seasoned team of dedicated professionals,” shared Paige.

The Weitz Company, Emily Kessinger & Chad Schleicher - The Weitz Company is a National General Contractor who has built in all 50 states. They are committed to superior quality, value and complete customer satisfaction, which is done through collaborative relationships with their clients, designers, subcontractors and suppliers. Emily Kessinger, the National Business Development Manager, and Chad Schleicher, Senior Business Development Manager, took the time to explain some of the challenges and opportunities within the space. According to Kessinger, “The main challenge COVID brought to the industry was ensuring our people were safe. Weitz has always put people first so by ensuring we had safety measures and protocols in place that were proactive and people-oriented, our projects remained on schedule, our clients happy, and our greatest asset (our people) protected.” According to Chad, what draws him to Weitz is “how ingrained Weitz is throughout the life of the project. Weitz focuses on creating a trusted partner relationship with our clients and partners, which leads to creative problem solving and going above and beyond what is typically expected from a contractor.” Weitz is also involved in the multifamily and senior living space and continues to reach new heights within student housing.


Dement Design

Dement Designs, Sara Dement - Sara Dement started Dement Designs, her firm of eight people, after coming from a large architectural company where she learned space-planning and durable furniture and finishes, with a focus on corporate work. She was inspired to start Dement because she wanted room to be more creative while building warm and inviting environments with a focus on art. She has been able to build her business through relationships, referrals, and excellent results. What makes Dement Designs unique is that the company is not attached to one specific look. Instead, they cater their work towards what they know will appeal to the demographics of the region in which they are working. Sara explains that she must think “What makes that region special? How is Arizona different from North Carolina, etc.” While Sara’s firm has held strong during the pandemic, she points out how the design industry within student housing is changing. “Students are becoming more focused on outdoor study as well as study spaces in general. We are also seeing a growing emphasis on luxury which has been in the works for a while. Student housing is very on point in catering to various needs and typically students want the best of everything. This lends itself to a boutique hotel appearance”. Dement Designs continue to grow, even beginning their journey into the hotel industry.


Dormakaba, CleanBrands, Entrata

Dormakaba, Thomas Bowles - Dormakaba is the industry leader in secure access control and door openings, for a wide variety of buildings both commercial and residential. We sat down with Tom Bowles, Strategic Manager for dormakaba Multihousing, to hear more about the company philosophy as well as where he sees the industry going, post COVID. According to Tom, Dormakaba differentiates itself from other Multihousing Solutions as since 1995, they have been the pioneers of high quality electronic platforms for access control. Through their innovation and solutions, Dormakaba provides a platform throughout an entire property and equips them with intuitive and innovative software and attached hardware. And, they aren’t stopping, as Tom explains that Dormakaba is” always coming up with new products and solutions that revolutionize the industry in which we are involved”. The company has noticed and recognizes the bigger push for connectivity within the apartment home and is focused on improving the lifestyle of Apartment Residents, Off Campus Students and Senior Living dwellings. This includes connected and communicating technology that allows for guests to provide credentials to delivery, visitors or management through their phone. The ability to produce such great results stems from Dormakaba’s high criteria for partnership.  “We provide the highest quality in both hardware and integration expectation because we have an established quality brand known for our ability to ensure everyone within the building, and their data, is secure and comfortable.” Tom explains. Overall, Dormakaba and Tom are pushing the security industry to bigger and better places.

CleanBrands, Linda Bill - CleanBrands is a mattress encasement manufacturer focused on helping customers get a better night's sleep in a healthier way. The company was started by Gary Goldberg after noticing his son's allergies were worsening. The products were developed to combat these allergies by encasing the mattress so allergens are kept out in a cool, comfortable way. Linda Bill, the current VP of Sales, explains that the company works heavily in the hotel industry and is just now starting to dip their toes into student housing. Ultimately, they aim to be the go-to mattress encasement company for any incoming student sleeping on an unfamiliar bed. Their product not only keeps out allergens, but also protects against bed bugs, spills, and any other wear in an environmentally friendly way. “The onset of COVID has made our product even more relevant, as there is a growing emphasis on cleanliness and our product is CDC certified. Because of this we also operate in healthcare and senior living spaces in addition to hospitality and student living,” Bill notes. Linda comes from a strong sales background and has a unique ability to create innovative solutions that drive tangible results! She loves that “everyone in the space is pretty open and positive. They see the need for the product so they're willing to sit down and have a discussion.”

Entrata, Sara Lencheck - Entrata is a comprehensive property management software system with a single-login, open-access platform. We sat down with Senior Product Manager Sara Lencheck to understand how the company has been able to grow and thrive in the student housing industry. “Entrata started back in 2003 as a multifamily payment processor without a specific vertical attached,” Lencheck explains. “Several years later, we saw a need  in student housing for an end to end management solution, and we were able to build a product that caters to this market. I like to think of my role as a ‘listener’ and ‘problem solver’. I listen to the evolving needs of clients and build out our products based on their feedback.” Entrata is now a category leader in property management, with an open API and large selection of third-party integrations that allow for collaboration and cooperation with other systems apartments may be using at any given moment. Entrata strives to not only "Keep up with the Joneses" but rather to “Be the Joneses" with continued innovations to break the mold. When Sara joined the company, there were around 700 people. Entrata has since expanded to more than 2,100 global employees and continues to grow within the space.

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