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Survivors and thrivers: Elite businesses honored in the OBJ Elite 50

Survivors and thrivers: Elite businesses honored in the OBJ Elite 50

Orlando Business Journal is honoring the cream of the crop among local, privately held companies who have achieved great success in the past year in the 2021 Elite 50.

These companies represent the top 25 on OBJ's 2021 Golden 100 List (top companies based on most recent year revenue), and the top 25 on this year's Fast 50 Lists (leading companies based on three consecutive years of positive revenue growth). Since five of the companies are among the leaders on both lists, there's a total of 45 representing the Elite 50.

Atrium Management Co.
List: Fast 50 (#10 fastest growing company in Central Florida)
Founded: 1997

Here's more from owner Adam Wonus, with help from partner Michael Krause:

How did the pandemic initially affect how you do business? We are very much an in-person people business, and we were forced to take a much more digital approach on all fronts. We also were concerned that our residents might be laid off or furloughed, which could have lead to higher delinquency and cash-flow issues for our property owners.

How did you pivot the business to keep operating? We started to rely much more heavily on technology to meet with each other and with our clients and residents. We started using virtual tours and walkthroughs to show our properties for rent. We met with our team daily via Zoom, and at any given time, you would see up to 30-40 Atrium team members on our daily Zoom room just working remotely. We started an internal rent relief program, which raised money to assist our residents who had been negatively impacted by Covid-19. Then, the government stepped in and ramped up assistance programs, and we were able to work with residents to help them secure financial relief through those programs.

What were some things you had to stop doing or do less of during the pandemic? We would typically get our whole team together on Fridays for a team meeting and that, of course, had to move to a digital format. We also stopped our twice weekly personal trainer classes that we provided for the team. We are big on being involved in the industry, and most events for the apartment association and the National Association of Residential Property Managers were stopped temporarily or moved online. We did benefit greatly from being a part of both those organizations, as they both encouraged and gave a platform for members to discuss best practices as we learned to navigate the new normal that we all were trying to figure out together. 

How did that affect your business? It initially slowed down quite substantially. Rent collections were negatively impacted, and most residents were not moving so we initially took a hit to revenue. Through time and working with our residents, both of those issues largely have turned around, and our business actually is stronger today than before the pandemic.

What were some things you instituted to keep employee morale up? We offer a fit club, where a personal trainer  comes to the office in the morning twice a week and work outs with our employees. This was stopped temporarily at the onset of the pandemic, but started back up as soon as we were able to do so safely per the guidelines set out by the [Centers for Disease Control & Prevention]. We never stopped encouraging our team to grow personally, mentally and physically. Mental and physical health are so import- ant to living a balanced life, so we instituted an Atrium Fit Club Facebook group. Team members who previously never had been working on getting healthy now are in the best shape they had been in for years. We also started a beginner investor course, and went through the book "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" with our team, and talked about how to get started investing in real estate. We want everyone who works with us to be better off for having worked with us. 

What does the future look like for your company? Bright. We acquired a new office building in the Milk District, where our headquarters will be. We currently have 2,500 doors under management with a goal of 24,000 — we dream big.

Your advice to other local businesses on surviving this challenging economic environment? Hard work and effort beats talent every time. 

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