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AMP Interviews with the biggest movers and shakers in the Apartment Management Industry

Brett is one of the kindest, most approachable people I’ve met.  It isn’t every day you get someone at his level to even respond to you.  In the short time I have known him, I have told many people how I wish more people shared his demeanor and humble attitude.  He is definitely someone you should know and equally shares my passion for networking!

I love dissecting words and looking for greater meaning like the word Apartment.  What sets you “Apart” and why are you “Meant” for the multifamily industry?

I’m not sure there’s anything that necessarily sets me “apart” from the many very smart and hard-working folks in our industry.  If I had to come up with something, I’d say that it’s my almost 20-years of military service.  The Army gives you tools to deal with people, organizations, and crises; all important components of our day-to-day experience in this business.  I find that the experiences I’ve had in uniform are often directly relatable to something I’m dealing with in multi-family.  As for being “meant” for the multi-family business, at this point, it’s hard to imagine doing anything else.  For me, the relationships, finance, and extent to which this industry impacts our nation keep me very engaged. 

How and when did you get your start in the industry?

​I’ve been in commercial real estate my entire career, but have primarily focused on multi-family for the past 15-years.  My first job in our industry was as the development manager for a boutique multi-family developer in Atlanta.  I literally learned the business from the ground up and have been in some facet of the apartment industry ever since. 

What is one song that always puts you in a good mood?

Any song by the Avett Brothers.  If I had to pick one, I’d say “Neapolitan Sky.”


What are 3 tips you would give someone considering a career in multifamily?

1) Our business is multi-faceted.  To be most effective, I suggest you understand as many of those facets or areas as you can.  If you know the function and purpose of asset management, property management, systems, marketing, etc. and how each fits together, it will give you a more holistic view of your role and allow you to make more informed decisions. 


2) Our industry is broad.  From finance to management, to software, to construction, and so on, our industry touches so many disciplines that there are very few limits to what you can do.  Once you figure out what you’re drawn to, there are probably multiple ways to do it in our business. 


3) Network, network, network.  As you advance in your career, your relationships become your most precious currency.  Focus on building those relationships now and they will make you a more effective leader and executive.  


What is your proudest moment in multifamily?

Seeing people in our organization reach their goals.   


Who is your mentor and why?

​I have a number of mentors from the industry, the military, and in my personal life, making it hard to pick just one.  That being said, I’d highly recommend anyone coming into the industry to find someone that they respect and who is more experienced than they are, and ask them to be your mentor.  Being upfront about your desire for mentorship sets the conditions for your relationship with that person.  It also gives them an explicit license to make suggestions and recommendations, that some may be hesitant to give if not asked.  If that sounds like something kind of awkward to ask of someone else, I’d encourage you by saying that I’ve never heard of someone saying “no.”


What book has left the biggest impression on your life?

That’s a tough one because I love to read…  Two that come to mind are The Effective Executive, by Peter Drucker, and The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.


If you ever owned an apartment community, where would it be and what would you name it?

​It would be in Nashville, TN because that’s where I’m originally from and we’ve tried and failed to buy something there the last seven years.  I’d name it “The Herman” in honor of my late grandfather.  He and my grandmother owned a small restaurant in rural Tennessee and he’d love the idea of owning a business where you didn’t have to wake up at 3:30 am. 


What is your most memorable vacation?

Driving to the Grand Canyon from Atlanta with my wife, kids (3), parents and brother. 


If our country went to 4-day work weeks, how would you spend your 5th day?

In the mountains with my family.


Brett Duke

Chief Operating Officer

Atlantic Pacific Real Estate Group

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