Raising the Bar at Annual Conference 2017

Over 155 Buckingham employees gathered at The Alexander Hotel for two days of leadership training, team building activities, and recognition of achievements co-workers have accomplished this past year.

To kick off conference, team leaders heard from Scott Sladek, COO of Buckingham Companies; Dr. Alliston Barber, Chancellor of WGU Indiana; Brad Chambers, President & CEO of Buckingham Companies; and Josh Bleill, Marine Veteran and motivational speaker.

Scott Sladek opened up conference with a recap of 2016 accomplishments and motivation for team leaders as we head into the final five months of 2017. With numerous goals set for each department, 2017 is set to end on a high note as we prepare for more growth and opportunity in 2018.

Dr. Allison Barber of WGU Indiana kicked-off our guest speakers of conference, heading full-force into our military training theme. Her leadership presentation highlighted five lessons that she learned during her time at the Pentagon during 9-11. In 2001, Dr. Barber worked in the Pentagon as a public officer before and after the attack. Her lesson focused on her first-hand experience of how basic approaches to communication and leadership are critical during times of crisis. Her five lessons included:

  1. First thing’s first
  2. Follow your instincts but listen to your advisors
  3. What is versus what if
  4. Listen to people
  5. Show up

Scott Sladek and Brad Chambers joined the team for Buckingham Insight. Our main focus going into the new year is company growth, including acquisitions and development projects. We don’t need to hire more people, but rather learn how to do what we do now for 50 properties and be able to do it for 100 more. This includes looking at outsourcing projects or looking at software that can help us do our jobs faster. This also includes making sure our employees feel fulfilled in their positions and that they continue to grow with us and within their specific role. Change is a good thing; we can’t avoid or push against it because it’s going to happen. Other items we learned during Buckingham Insight:

  • Brad doesn’t like the Rolling Stones or Beatles, but rather Little Big Town
  • The goal should never be to hit a homerun. The goal should always be to get on base.

Following Dr. Barber, Josh Bleill stole our hearts with his motivational speech “One Step at a Time,” in which he told his story of overcoming an obstacle in life, shedding light on the situation, and learning how to keep going forward, ‘one step at a time.’ Bleill was a Boilermaker working in corporate America when the events of September 11 changed his life. Following his father’s footsteps, Bleill enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and was deployed to Fallujah, Iraq in 2006. While on active duty, Bleill was in a fatal landmine bombing and lost both his legs while serving. His moto throughout the presentation was that even though everyone has that ‘one bad day,’ you have to discover how to embrace those moments and keep moving forward. Through two years of rehab, Bleill moved back to Indy and became a spokesman for the Indianapolis Colts after meeting team-owner, Jim Irsay, during rehab. From that moment on, Bleill has been telling his story and inspiring others across the state, while also making them laugh a little.

After lunch at Market Table, the team was broken up into three breakout sessions: grow, lead and care. Each breakout session was led by a professional within the Indianapolis area.

The ‘lead’ breakout session focused on the survival tools of the SWOT analysis, how to maneuver challenges, developing your leadership traits and coaching your team members effectively. This breakout session was led by Ondrea Mcaulay and Mike Hill of Progression Partners, who many of our district managers are taking leadership classes from for growth in their own role.

Tim Wiley lead our ‘growth’ breakout session, who is from Gazelles International Coaches. Our team members learned how to make the most of meetings and limit the amount of useless time spent during them so that they are more valuable.

Our final breakout session was focused on the ‘care’ aspect of our company’s foundation. Matt Hunkler, from Powderkeg, focused on the way we should respond to negative comments, how to embrace criticism, and caring about all our customers. His session focused on the fundamentals found in the book, “Hug Your Haters” by Jay Baer.

Everyone's favorite part of conference every year is the awards ceremony and dinner. A special addition to this year's conference included numerous performances by BCDC, Buckingham Companies Dance Corp! Comprised of eight team members, BCDC definitely stole the show, if not the conference itself! Performances included dances to Happy, Footloose, Loose Yourself, and Men in Black. Our four time MC of annual conference, Andy Klineman, did a great job filling our evening with laughs and memories as we took a journey through the last 33 years of Buckingham Companies.

We would like to congratulate our award winners, who were honored during our awards ceremony! We are proud to have such dedicated team members working with us:


  • Community Involvement: Tom Muller
  • Customer First: Rene Hart
  • Exceptional Leadership: Greg Morris
  • Teamwork: Jamie Allen
  • Positive Attitude: Drew Fishbaugh
  • Outstanding Performance: Jim Smith


  • Community Involvement: Lori Gooding
  • Customer First: Stefanie Cord
  • Exceptional Leadership: Tera Odom
  • Teamwork: Blake McBee
  • Positive Attitude: Shannon Sorrells
  • Outstanding Performance: Katie Reed


  • Community Involvement: Mary Glenn
  • Customer First: Jason Reitzel
  • Exceptional Leadership: Holly Jordan
  • Teamwork: Chelsie Walker
  • Positive Attitude: Rachel Miller
  • Outstanding Performance: Kennadi Hughes

Top Shop:

  • Northlake Farms
  • The Cole
  • Fieldstone

KPI Award Winners:

  • Highest CNOI% YOY Market Winner: Devonshire
  • Highest CNOI% YOY Affordable Winner: Bradford Woods
  • Lowest Controllable Expense Growth YOY Market Winner: Shady Oak Village
  • Lowest Controllable Expense Growth YOY Affordable Winner: Northlake Farms
  • Lowest Expense Margin Market Winner: 26 West
  • Lowest Expense Margin Affordable Winner: Northlake Farms
  • Highest CNOI% Above Budget Market Winner: Bradford Ridge
  • Highest CNOI% Above Budget Affordable Winner: Northlake Farms
  • Highest Total Revenue % YOY Market Winner: Devonshire
  • Highest Total Revenue % YOY Affordable Winner: Bradford Woods
  • Highest Average Physical Occupancy Market Winner: The Ambassador
  • Highest Average Physical Occupancy Affordable Winner: The Preserve at Crossroads
  • Highest SatisFacts Score Work Order: The Cole
  • Highest SatisFacts Score Move-in: The Cole
  • Lowest Delinquency Market: The Plaza
  • Lowest Delinquency Affordable: Foster's Landing
  • Lowest Average Days to Complete Work Order Market Winner: Apartments at Grand Prairie
  • Lowest Average Days to Complete Work Order Affordable Winner: Foster's Landing

The Blue Door Society was established in 2015 as a special recognition program for employees who have achieved more than five years of service for Buckingham Companies. Essential to the growth and development of our company is the ability to hire and retain employees who embody our Mission, Vision, Values, and Key Success Qualities. This program gives us an additional opportunity to celebrate those employees at certain milestones in their Buckingham career. New members are inducted when they achieve 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, and 25 years of service for the company. The 2017 inductees include:

Five Years:

  • Rick Donnella (Bradford Ridge, IN)
  • Nikki Crosby (Marketing, IN)
  • Becca Manolov (Community Relations, IN)
  • Justine Sharp (Development, IN)
  • Lynda Weaver (Construction, IN)
  • Harold West (Northlake Farms, IL)
  • Jim Smith (Marketing, IN)
  • Timika Johnson (Operations, IN)
  • Rahsaan Smith (Commercial Real Estate, IN)
  • Chelsie Walker (Aertson Midtown, TN)
  • Daniel Byam (The Foundry, IN)

Ten Years:

  • Mike Hassell (Accounting, IN)
  • Kelli Farrar (Management, IN)
  • Rick Kersey (Construction, IN)
  • Kristen Johnston (Development, IN)
  • Joanna Elpers (Management, IN)

Fifteen Years:

  • Sam Stahl (Management, IN)

By the end of next year, one in three Buckingham Companies team members will be a member of the Blue Door Society. Next time you see any of these team members, please take the time to congratulate them on this accomplishment!

Team members finished out our 2017 Annual Conference with a foundation initiative supporting HVAF of Indiana by assembling over 400 hygiene bags for homeless vets that included lotion, shaving cream, razors, soap, combs, and more. Sticking to the military theme, all members were divided into four teams and were tasked with completing military obstacles prior to tackling the assembly of these hygiene bags. Obstacles included building a pyramid out of plastic cups without using our hands, solving a word scramble, and assisting a blindfolded team member through a field of land mines. The most challenging job was working together to make sure everyone was participating in each challenge, especially the hygiene bag assembly. It was an ‘all hands-on deck’ task, but each member was able to accomplish the mission at hand!

Throughout the conference, book and podcast recommendations were thrown out often. Here’s a round-up of those here:

Book recommendations:

  • Am I Being Too Subtle?: Straight Talk From a Business Rebel, Sam Zell
  • Hug Your Haters, Jay Baer
  • Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck
  • Managing the Rockefeller Habits, Verne Harnish
  • Great by Choice, Jim Collins
  • The New Leaders 100 Day Action Plan, George B. Bradt
  • Successful Onboarding: Strategies to Unlock Hidden Value Within Your Organization, Mark Stein & Lilith Christiansen
  • Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Simon Sinek
  • Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t, Simon Sinek
  • The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting up to Speed Faster and Smarter, Michael Watkins

Please be sure to complete the survey and provide your feedback on this year’s conference. If you were unable to fill out the survey during lunch, please contact Becca to do so as soon as possible.

Thank you to our generous sponsors, including Anthem BlueCross and BlueShield, AUM, CIC Indianapolis, CSI Signs, DMG Contractors, HD Supply, Konica Minolta, Moen, Rainmaker LRO, Ray’s Trash Service, and Yardi. A huge thank you to our Annual Conference committee members, including Becca Manolov, Shannon Sorrells, Nicole Wetzler, Ashley Parker, Shanenn Darks, Kellie Linzner, Beth Cash, and Angela Combs, who worked all year to put on such an amazing event!