28 January 2019

Strata community celebrates excellence

| John Thistleton
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President’s Award winner Jan Browne and Andrew Young, from sponsor QIA Group. Photos: Supplied.

LJ Hooker Strata ACT is the toast of the fast-growing strata community in Canberra after winning Strata Management Business of the Year on Friday night (19 October) at the annual industry awards.

The Strata Community Association, the peak industry group for body corporate and community title management in Australia and New Zealand, hosted the awards.

SCA (ACT) general manager, Shari Ujdur says the association is attracting more unit owners in Canberra who want a better understanding of what they should expect from their strata managers. Shari says each strata organisation has its unique qualities and all are striving to reach a common goal, excellence.

LJ Hooker Strata managing director Timothy Maly, began the business in 2016. At that stage, he had been in the industry for 13 years. After hitting a brick wall of opposition from the owners of other strata companies unwilling to adopt his methods, Tim decided to try something different.

“I wasn’t afforded that flexibility working for other people. I decided to go into partnership with a couple of guys from LJ Hooker who were looking to get involved in a strata business, and it worked beautifully,” he says.

Timothy says communication is at the heart of everything LJ Hooker Strata does.

“Other managers don’t explain things as best they can to their clients, whereas we try and explain each and every situation whether they be owners, tenants, property managers etc., just to try and eliminate any conflict or confusion with issues. We try and explain things clearly to all parties involved, and all parties certainly understand the reason why, or why not things are the way they are.’’

Timothy says a lot of other strata managers operate on a volume-based model, where the ‘poor strata manager’ is looking after a portfolio of 50 or 60 buildings, and anywhere from 1000 to 1500 unit owners that they are responsible for.

“We have cut that back a lot, so that our strata managers have the time to explain things to people and putting out lots of emails, calling our owners and sending pro-active messages to them,’’ Timothy says.

Nina Cannell, from Signature Strata won the Strata Manager of the Year award. This recognises an individual who displays excellence as a strata manager and demonstrates success in leadership, work ethic and client relationship management.

As an executive strata manager, Nina manages 629 lots across four strata schemes, one of which is a landmark development and may be considered larger than some small towns in Australia.

Nina is known for having an infectious love for not only her business but for the strata industry as a whole.

Jan Browne from Whittles Strata Partners won the inaugural President’s award, which is for an individual who has demonstrated a passion for the strata sector and has contributed to the board, committees or any project- related work over a significant period of time.

Rising star Heather Lynn with Shari Ujdur, SCA (ACT) general manager.

Rising star Heather Lynn with Shari Ujdur, SCA (ACT) general manager.

Heather Lynn from Independent Strata Management was named the Rising Star of the Year.

Alistair Scott from Vantage Strata won the Professional Commitment to Ethics and Service award.

Deb McCarthy from Signature Strata won the Support Team Member of the Year.

Xavier Foreberg from Higgins with one of the Signature Strata team collecting on behalf of Deb McCarthy, Support Team Member of the Year.

Xavier Foreberg from Higgins with one of the Signature Strata team collecting on behalf of Deb McCarthy, Support Team Member of the Year.

Strata management is fast becoming too big to ignore, says Chris Miller, managing director of Vantage Strata, Canberra.

“If trends continue, 50 per cent of the country’s population will live in a strata- titled property by 2030,” says Chris. “The need for strata management far exceeds the attention the sector receives,” he says.

Chris says the biggest issue in strata management is the lack of professionalism which is not unique to Canberra, but across Australia.

“Our industry has evolved from a basic administration-type industry with the kind of buildings that have sprung up over the last 20 years. We are managing complicated communities with intricate built environments and substantial flows of hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars. The professionalism and skills within the industry have struggled to keep pace with those challenges,” he says.

Strata today covers building projects with up to 1000 units and with four basements, and apartments stacked on top of shopping centres and with community infrastructure.

The challenge now is to get property professional involved, in the same way.

Alistair Scott from Vantage Strata - winner of the Commitment to Service and Ethics Award.

Alistair Scott from Vantage Strata – winner of the Commitment to Service and Ethics Award.

People with law degrees become lawyers and people with accounting degrees become accountants. Chris is confident the poor cousin perception is changing.

The success of Friday night’s Strata Community awards, hosted by Tom Gleeson at the Australian War Memorial, is helping. Chris says the awards are symbolic of taking what is generally regarded as a cottage industry and trying to move it into a professional industry, populated by people proud to call themselves strata managers.

Minister for Planning and Land Development Mick Gentleman, Access Canberra’s David Snowden and McInnes Wilson Lawyers principal Shelley McInnes judged the awards.

Canberra locals TuchaSoul entertained guests.

SCA (ACT) CHU Strata Community Awards would not be possible without the continued support from naming rights sponsors, CHU, gold sponsor, O’Neill & Brown, and bronze sponsors, BPS, CCA, Laser Plumbing and Macquarie Bank. Award sponsors were Body Corporate Brokers, Inside Outside Facility Services, QIA Group, Maritex Commercial, Schindler Lifts and Horizon Coatings.

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