Wendy Drucker leads Drucker + Falk in new directions
Wendy Drucker credits professional relationships, hard work and being in the right place in helping to change the face of Drucker + Falk. Once considered property management experts for older multifamily properties in need of renovation, the Newport News-based company is now the go-to firm for developers with new apartment communities, not only in Hampton Roads but through its entire footprint.
Named one of the Top 50 property-management firms in the country by the National Multifamily Housing Council for many years, the company also was recognized in 2016 as one of the Top 10 Places to Work in the Multifamily Industry by the Best Companies Group.
The firm, which has nearly 1,000 employees, manages all types of multifamily and commercial properties, from workforce to high-end housing. “We have done more than $30 million of renovation in our footprint in the last two years,” says Drucker, who is the firm’s managing director. “We want to make sure we keep our properties current and desirable for rent.”
Today, Drucker + Falk manages more than 30,000 apartments and up to 170 apartment communities in nine states —Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Indiana and Missouri. Other core services include commercial management, general brokerage, and commercial sales and leasing.
Growing up, Drucker never planned to work for her family’s company, much less move back to Newport News after graduating from college. But now, as a member of the firm’s third generation, she’s helping to shape the destiny of the company her grandfather, Louis Drucker, started in 1938 with his business partner, Manny Falk.
She was working in California with an organization that opened group homes for children with autism when she realized the next career step was a move to an administrative position. “I’m a hands-on person and being an administrator didn’t appeal to me,” she says. “I called my father [Erwin Drucker] and asked him how he thought I would be working with Drucker + Falk.”
In 1981, she moved to the company’s regional office in Raleigh, N.C., and began training with David Falk Sr., who owned the company with her father, learning every aspect of the business. “I had to prove myself, prove that I wasn’t just the owner’s daughter, that I had something to give back to the organization,” she says.
She spent 13 years in Raleigh, moving up to director of the multifamily Southeast management department before heading back to Newport News to work at corporate headquarters. “It was important to my father and his partner that I come to the headquarters and get exposed to all the things we do here,” she says.
These days her primary focus is client relations and business development. “I’m lucky to be able to do what I love to do.”
Drucker is bullish about the strength of multifamily housing going forward, thanks to generations of renters, ranging from millennials and Gen Xers to empty nesters and seniors. “Apartments continue to have strong occupancy because of these three pockets of people. They are renters by choice,” she says, adding that developers are tailoring amenities to these groups. “It’s like living in a resort and being on vacation 365 days a year.”
A Type A personality with a good understanding of her strengths and weaknesses, Drucker admittedly shies away from conflict. “I like for everybody to get along,” she says. “If we are having an issue, I want it to be win-win for both of us. I’m a collaborator. I surround myself with great people and seek their counsel and advice.”
Attorney Buddy David, a partner in David, Kamp & Frank in Newport News, who represents Drucker + Falk, describes Drucker as “passionate and compassionate about everything she does. She exudes confidence. You do not get the impression it’s a sales job to her. You get the impression if you engage her firm, you are in good hands.”
Drucker cherishes her family and her community work. She and her husband, Michael Piercy, have twins — Evan and Nicole Piercy, who are juniors in college.
At work, she champions Shelters to Shutters, a national program that helps homeless people. It partners with apartment owners and operators like Drucker + Falk to provide full-time employment and affordable housing options to qualified homeless individuals who are referred by nonprofits. She also helped start HR3 Hampton Roads Refugee Relief, which she now co-chairs. The organization helps refugees in Hampton Roads get acclimated to their new surroundings, assisting with everything from doctors to classes in English as a second language.
When her father became ill, Drucker says, she resigned from most of the boards she served on to spend more time with him. His death, she adds, changed her focus and now she spends more time on organizations “that are hands-on and changing lives.”
Where do you like to go on vacation?
Everywhere. I love the experience of traveling. I love the culture. My last big trips were to Israel, Italy, Barbados and Costa Rica.
What’s the one thing people don’t know about you?
That I love rockabilly alt-country music, and I dance like a wild woman.
What have you learned about business?
The most important thing is your good name. You have to have honesty and integrity — do what you say you will do.
What’s the last book you read?
“How May I Help You? An Immigrant’s Journey from MBA to Minimum Wage” by Deepak Singh