Mention homeowner’s association and many cringe, envisioning monthly dues, strict enforcement of rules and limits on everything from what color you can paint your house to the kinds of business activities you can engage in from home.

In many cases, all of those rules and more are in place — for a reason. They preserve the character of the neighborhood while also protecting property values. And when it comes to homeowner’s associations, Optimum Professional Property Management knows a thing or two. The Irvine-based company — in business since 1996 — currently manages 127 HOAs throughout Southern California.

CEO Debra Kovach says Optimum has maintained a steady and stable path of growth, not only in staffing and its client base, but in technology and social media awareness. She notes that about a quarter of the company’s 53 employees have been with the company for 10 years or more. That culture has landed the company on the annual “Top Workplaces” list of honorees two times before.

Optimum’s commitment is reflected in comments employees made in a Top Workplaces survey:

“I am encouraged to be my best and am given opportunities for advancement,” one worker said. “It’s a family environment where everyone is supportive and genuinely cares about each other.”

Optimum generated about $6 million in revenue in 2019. The company hired five employees over the past 12 months and expects to hire five to eight more over the next year. We asked Kovach to talk about the business of managing HOAs and how the company has adapted to the current health crisis.

Q: As a business that manages homeowners associations, you’ve likely had to make changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. How are things different?

A: In March we had to close our office to the public and set up everyone to work remotely. Since then we have brought back essential team members who need to be in the office to conduct business such as cutting checks, issuing parking permits, keys and remotes, etc. We still have some team members who are working remotely, either due to childcare issues or because their job responsibilities do not require they work from the office.

Q: Have your employees encountered any resistance from residents in regard to policies that may have changed during the pandemic?

A: Yes, the biggest issues we have faced were from homeowners who were upset that the pool or tennis court facilities were closed. There were many angry and irate homeowners that we are still having to deal with.

Q: What kinds of things does Optimum do to make its employees feel valued?

A: We give pay increases without the employee having to ask when we recognize excellent performance. We also give shoutouts to team members who go above and beyond or do something acknowledgment worthy. We have a “culture club” committee that meets every month to create ways to have fun in the office and acknowledge special events or milestones.

We are driven by the idea that a strong customer service-oriented philosophy will keep us at the top of our game. We thrive on a strong team culture and overall positive attitude which enables us to work well with each other and our business partners.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge in managing homeowners associations?

A: Finding and keeping community managers who want to do the job. It is very demanding and requires a lot of evening meetings.

Q: Are there any recent laws or pending legislation that have or will impact how Optimum does business?

A: Yes, a new election law effective Jan. 1, 2020 requires us to entirely revamp our internal procedures for handling annual membership meetings and elections which created more work for the staff.

No. 5 Small business: Optimum Professional Property Management

Founded: 1996

Industry: Homeowners association management

Headquarters: Irvine

Employees: 53

Website: www.optimumpm.com

Quote: “We thrive on a strong team culture and overall positive attitude which enables us to work well with each other and our valued business partners.” Debra Kovach, principal and CEO.

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By Richard Moran

Richard Moran loves to write about sports with the Golden State Online. Before that, he worked as a senior writer at ESPN. Richard grew up in San Diego and graduated from the University of San Diego in 2004, after which he worked as an editor for five years.

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