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How does it feel to be among HAA’s top managers? Mark Billig: It feels great! Clark Gregg: Extremely flattering, and cer-

tainly unexpected. I’d like to see who wrote the reviews to see what they said. I didn’t even listen to what they were saying about me. It wasn’t until they said, “He’s the chair- man of the technology committee,” that I looked down at my wife and said, “Wait a minute – that’s me!” (laughter) Tiffany Rose: When they said, “She’s been in

the business 16 years,” I was like, “Shoot, that ain’t me.” I was like, “My God, have I been in the business that long?” (laughter) I was young! Yeah, it’s very flattering. It feels pretty good. Brooke Steidl: I still can’t believe it, but I’m

really very, very honored. Margarita Gongora: I was very shocked.

They had to push me up – “That’s you!” Steidl: Me too – they had to push me up,

too. (laughs) Gongora: I didn’t realize how heavy it was

but I carried that thing proudly! (laughter) Gregg: They’re great though – pretty impres-

sive. Rose: Oh, they’re beautiful! I’ve received

awards in the past, but it’s definitely the best presentation of an award. Gongora: What kept running through my

head was this is out of the whole Houston area. It’s like, “Wow, there are 12, and I’m one of those.” It was surreal. It was amazing, because it made me think – I’ve set my goals, and I’ve reached them, and I have more to go. It was a very proud moment for me. Steidl: When they were reading out the little

speech before announcing the winner for my category, I was thinking, “Wow, that manager is really great.” (laughs) I just had no idea. I was so shocked and just surprised and hon- ored. I did not expect it. Gregg: I really wish I could remember

it better. ALL: Me too! Gregg: It’s like how I remember my wedding

day – it’s kind of a fog. That’s how I feel about this, too. I don’t remember a whole lot about that! (laughter) … I was just kind of distracted, and when I almost sat down, (my wife) Cynthia told me to stand back up, and then I heard “technology committee” and said, “That’s me!” And then from then on, of course, I didn’t remember anything. (laughter) Rose: I remember the person who kind of

took me down the aisle and around … she was so nice. She was like, “Congratulations,

we are so proud of you!” It was this motiva- tional thing all the way to the pictures, and I remember that more than anything – the words that she kept saying – “We’re so proud of you!” Steidl: I had tunnel vision. Gongora: I was in a tunnel the whole way

there. I didn’t know what was going on around me. I didn’t hear anything else. Gregg: It’s kind of weird. You’ve got a thou- sand people sitting there looking at you.

out – my arm was very sore. It was heavy. (laughter) Rose: I think that the award for me really

showed me that I’ve done the right things in this industry. I’ve made the right career choic- es that I thought I should make at the right times. I gained the respect that I hoped to get and made good choices and didn’t burn bridges, so I think it kind of represented that for me – that I have done the right things along the way.

“What kept running through my head was this is out of the whole Houston area. It’s like, ‘Wow, there are 12, and I’m one of those.’ It was surreal. It was amazing, because it made me think – I’ve set my goals, and I’ve reached them, and I have more to go. It was a very proud moment for me.” – Margarita Gongora

Gongora: I had to go back and ask people,

“Did you take pictures of me with the award? What was I doing?” Billig: I felt pretty good about the property

award. (He manages Ventura Lofts, which won in its category and will be featured in a later issue of ABODE.) You’ve gotta have a good team to go to school full-time and then do some stuff with HAA and then work and family, so I felt pretty good about the property award. But there are so many managers in this

town. I really feel – it sounds a little cheesy, but – a little undeserving, because there are so many good managers out there, some that get credit, some that don’t, in so many different circumstances. … I was surprised, because with the talent out there of managers, it’s incredible. Gongora: One of the things you think is,

“Why me? How was I so much better than everybody else?” It really makes you start thinking. … I appreciate it. Rose: What she said. (laughter) Billig: I figured all those raffle tickets for the

school supply drive were coming in handy. (laughter) Rose: I think the name change was very rep-

resentative of what the event was. I really felt honored, so to win the Honors award and for it to be the first one, I really felt pretty special about that. I think the name represents it very well. Steidl: I didn’t sleep at all that night. I walked

around the house looking at my trophy. (laughter) Gongora: I took a bunch of pictures of it. It just goes to show you how much I don’t work

How did everyone get started in the apartment business? Gongora: I’ve been in it seven years. Actually

it was just kind of by default. … Someone I knew, just a friend of a friend, came to me and said they were looking to hire, so I was hired on as an assistant. … I took over with one day of training. (laughter) I was just kind of thrown in, and now I feel like it’s what I was born to do. It’s in my blood, so I’m not going anywhere. This is my career that I’ve chosen. Rose: My sister went to work for the Fingers

years ago and really enjoyed it. … I started doing it part-time while I went to school, and then they sucked me in. (laughter) But I love it. I think it’s a fabulous industry and a great career. Steidl: I was actually wanting to move out of

my parents’ house with my boyfriend, now husband, at the time, and I thought that if I worked at an apartment, I could get a free apartment. So I started going in and applying, and somehow I got hired as a part-time leas- ing agent. I, of course, did not get a free apart- ment, but I’ve been there ever since, and I’m very happy. … What’s kept me here is just the people and the relationships that you build. And every day is different. Gregg: I was working for Dell Computers

right after I got out of college, and I hated it. One day I went in to pay my rent, and the manager there asked me if I knew anybody that was looking for a job. I said, “Maybe me,” and she said, “Do you want to be my assistant manager?” I said, “Sure,” so I applied for the job and two weeks later started working there. And my main thing that drew me in was the


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