From the CEO's Desk: Love what you doMarch 2, 2022
For this month, we sat down with Scott to discuss the company’s mission, progression, and the impact on the local community. After building on his father’s legacy, he has continually placed an emphasis on purpose-driven building projects. We dive into what Scott feels deserves the most attention from MRG, and how the business got to where it is today.
1. How has MRG grown under your leadership?
It started with a project in 2005. I wasn’t satisfied with the 500 units I was currently working with and didn’t want to stay as a property manager.
I wanted to grow a company that serves the affordable housing industry, and plays a big role in making a better life for others. So we bought 2 buildings in Manhattan that were currently in a poor condition, and turned them into comfortable living spaces. That project was one of the most important parts of MRG's success. This method paved the way for our current business model.
Along the journey, there were many opportunities and challenges. Thankfully, due to the learning journey while working with my father, I was able to seize the opportunities as I saw potential working on my own and overcome the challenges throughout MRG’s growth journey from 500 units to 4000 units – until today.
2. Has your mission changed at all in the past years you’ve been in business? What drove that change?
My mission has never changed. It’s the way that I am. From the start, with a 35-unit building, to now, as we’re dealing with hundreds of units. MRG’s philosophy is rooted in a commitment to improving our tenants’ lives by providing safe, quality homes and responsive service.
MRG’s commitment may start in our buildings, but that’s far from where it ends. We believe social responsibility is necessary to our line of work. Our core values have always been "We treat people like people. Management and development is our business, but compassion and understanding is our practice."
We focus on enriching the community, and it’s important to me that I take every opportunity to take care of my tenants.
I appreciate the personal connection I’ve built with tenants, and usually speak with them directly. It’s not uncommon for a tenant to pick up the phone, call, and quickly get me on the line for whatever they need. There aren’t a lot of real estate professionals who can say that. When I’m speaking with tenants, my philosophy is simple: I say “yes” as often as I can. It’s a process that never changes from the start to finish.
3. Why is creating a positive impact on the communities that your properties are a part of important to you? Why are you passionate about improving the lives of your tenants?
Affordable housing has always been deemed seen as “unsafe,” and has high crime rate areas. I was determined to change that.
I want to build a place where people can live and don’t have to worry about safety.
When people have a safe and secure place to settle down, there’s a sense of self-worth that begins to grow. There’s a mental shift that takes place when you go from not being able to afford anything, waking up depressed… to living in a safe and decent place, where your kids can grow up in a nice home.
That’s how a community starts thriving, and turns into a place where people can build a better life for themselves. And when the community starts thriving, properties become more valuable as well. That to me is a “win-win.”
4. What is the most humbling part of your experience and position?
To truly help people have a nicer place to live, and have a better life.
The reality of our world is that we all start at different points in life, with different advantages and disadvantages. MRG’s mission is to lessen the impact that reality has on quality of life. One way we do that is by providing quality resources to those in need.
For example, many of our tenants’ children need help with SAT scores – and not many of them have access to viable solutions. MRG helps bring tutoring programs to these children. That’s one way that we are trying to serve our community.
5. What moment in your career has had the biggest impact?
The moment that has had the biggest impact has to be when I decided to step out of my comfort zone.
When I first made the decision to take on affordable housing, it was a challenging prospect. At the time, buying poor condition properties, developing them, and bringing them to higher market value was a very unpredictable and risky thing.
But that’s also the inevitable change that I had to make.
I wanted to pursue the idea of doing great things not just for myself, but also for others.
That’s also why over the years, MRG has partnered with non-profit organizations such as A-List and ABBA, to improve educational and economic outcomes in the community. We’re also a proud sponsor of the Nassau County Police Department’s inaugural gala and recently engage in mentorship programs. My hope is to inspire the next generation of leaders in real estate and affordable housing.
6. What aspect of your work are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of the relationships I’ve established with those I work with. From my employees to my tenants, they love and respect me – not because of my success, but because I’m accessible, and fully deliver when I say I’m going to do something. They can count on me to follow through.
Most tenants and landlords don’t have strong, authentic relationships with their tenants. But to me, it’s a partnership and it should be based on understanding. If I can say yes to my tenants, I will.
I treat them with respect and I am a man of my word. Treating people the way they should be treated, no matter who they are and where they come from, is what made me successful.
I enjoy and appreciate every step that we take. In the affordable housing world, I’m redeveloping. We strive to build safe and secure places where people can enjoy living. If we can provide something for individuals that they can’t normally get, that to me is a success. MRG strives to help these individuals live a good life, too.