Where Are They Now?: AvalonBay Communities
AvalonBay Communities Growing, Flourishing in Virginia Beach
Inside a non-descript office building on Sabre Street near Lynnhaven Mall, more than 200 employees make an impact on the lives of people far beyond Hampton Roads. That’s because they manage more than 80,000 apartment units up and down the East and West Coasts.
The company, AvalonBay Communities, created its Customer Care Center in 2007 to oversee its 275 developments across 13 states (ex: California, Virginia, New York and Massachusetts). The Virginia Beach office handles tasks like customer service, collections and accounting.
Why would AvalonBay, headquartered in Arlington (Va), monitor all 275 communities from Virginia Beach? The answer, in part, lies in five letters: the Alliance.
Back in 2005-2006, AvalonBay executives assessed 200 cities as the potential new home for its Customer Care Center. The search ultimately centered on two locations: Pittsburgh and Virginia Beach. All along, the Alliance played a key role in making the AvalonBay team comfortable with the Hampton Roads region.
“HREDA set up interviews with existing call center management to discuss the ease in hiring and retaining staff. They also provided their offices for us to operate ad hoc (ex: interviews, meeting with the architect) prior to the building opening,” said Karen Hollinger, Vice President of Corporate Initiatives. “The HREDA team provided a great support network as we were getting underway.”
AvalonBay began with 23,000 sq. ft. of office space and 50 employees. In 2013, as the company grew, the Customer Care Center expanded by 17,000 sq. ft. and added 50 more employees. Today, a staff of over 200 manage the administrative tasks for the entire company. The Virginia Beach location features a robust on-the-job training program, and the company always looks to promote from within.
Steve Fabian, AvalonBay’s Vice President of the Customer Care Center, directs the Virginia Beach operation and is proud of how much his team has accomplished over the past nine years.
“We’ve come a long way and continue to feel Virginia Beach is the best city for our administrative operations,” Fabian said. “Hampton Roads has a smart, capable workforce that has allowed us to streamline our business and manage our communities more efficiently.”
Fabian moved to Hampton Roads in 2007 to manage the Center. At the time, he lived in Cleveland with his wife and two young children. They had never visited Virginia Beach and, as Fabian says, “we took a gamble sight unseen.”
Nine years later, the Fabians continue to love Hampton Roads and have no plans to leave. They recently moved to the Sandbridge area of Virginia Beach, which is walking distance to the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay. Fabian’s sons, now 11 and 13 years old, have taken up surfing and soak up the beach lifestyle.
Fabian says he can’t imagine a better job. He takes pride in knowing every employee by name and staging fun ways to boost office culture. On the afternoon we toured the center, it was National Popcorn Day and employees munched on free bags of the salty snack in the break room. The staff also looks forward to semi-annual cookouts, especially the summer event because it features a dunk tank and the chance to soak Fabian himself.
On the far end of the Customer Care Center, there’s even more office space in case AvalonBay needs to further expand its Virginia Beach operation. Fabian hopes that day soon becomes reality.
“Virginia Beach is our home for administrative operations,” he said. “We look forward to continued success and the chance to keep growing.”