Eric Graf works as a Director of Maintenance for the Northern California Office. In his role, he is a jack of all trades with day-to-day tasks from working in the field, maintaining vendor relationships, and serving as a team leader to staff. Outside of work, he applies the same craftsmanship that keeps him busy at Lewis to create outdoor masterpieces. Read below to learn more about his time with Lewis, how he developed his passion, and the intersection of the two.
What do you do at Lewis and what does a typical day look like?
Eric: I am the Regional Maintenance Director for Lewis Management in the NorCal region. My career in this field has been a great 25+ years journey. My typical day is working closely with our NorCal property maintenance teams as well as our rehab team members. This entails problem solving as things come up and providing assistance with troubleshooting to avoid vending out to others for repairs we can accomplish in house. I also facilitate scheduling our rehab team members to do special projects at each of our communities. This includes scheduling the rehab techs, ordering the materials for the projects, notifying the property of the special projects to take place and the duration of the projects. I also work closely with vendors and contractors to ensure that they provide the best service when they are at our properties. This includes capital projects that I facilitate or the day-to-day vendor that provides services such as pool maintenance, landscape maintenance, unit turn overs, etc.
Office time and supporting the staff at Lewis communities is also a big factor in my day-to-day work at Lewis Management. This includes writing scopes of work for capital projects and sending out scopes of work to bid to qualified contractors. I also set aside time to reach out and interview new vendors/contractors to add to our region approved vendor base. New hires are also on my schedule as they apply to be part of our maintenance teams. I do my best to be part of the maintenance interviewing process with each NorCal property.
Rock/Boulder Doghouse that Eric made
What has your career path looked like?
Eric: My career started while working at a machine shop in my younger years with my dad. I then took an interest in construction and electrical where I spent a few years working as an electrician apprentice in the residential side. During this time, I studied for the real estate exam and acquired my real estate license. I then decided I wanted to learn HVAC repair, so I decided to take a year of schooling in that field while working a night shift at a PVC manufacturing company. Once I completed my HVAC schooling, I was offered a job with a local HVAC company where I worked as a warranty technician for a couple of years. During this time as an HVAC warranty technician, I was offered a maintenance job at an apartment complex where I was servicing their HVAC. I have been in the property management industry ever since. During my 25+ years I have also acquired my real estate brokers license and my general contractor’s license.
What drew you to working at Lewis?
Eric: I initially learned about Lewis Management through Paul Bedoya. Paul and I worked together at ConAm Management in the same professional roles we currently have today with Lewis Management. Paul moved on from ConAm sometime ago and we continued to stay in touch.
I believe Paul had been working with Lewis Management for about six months when he reached out to me to inquire if I was interested in the same professional role as I was currently doing with ConAm Management for the past twelve years. I remember the conversation quite well. Paul asked if I was still happy with ConAm. I stated that I was quite busy and that the travel was getting pretty extensive, but I was content to stay the course with ConAm. Paul then asked if I was possibly interested in interviewing for the NorCal position that was available with Lewis Management. In my mind I was at a point in my career that I was settled into staying with ConAm Management until retirement. Paul though was persistent with reaching out to me on several occasions regarding the open position. Paul made the case for Lewis Management saying how good of a company they are and that he was very happy overall. I then started to look into Lewis and did some outside research on my own. After several days of looking into Lewis and doing my own research on the company, I realized that my career possibly was going to make another change. I reached out to Lewis Management to set up an interview, and from there on it all fell into place.
I am now going on my second year with Lewis Management. I am so pleased that I made the change. I have never looked in the rear-view mirror since. I cannot say enough about how pleased I am with this company and my career path. Today, and until my retirement, my home is Lewis Management.
Package Collection Structure (In Progress)
How do you stay busy outside of the office?
Eric: If you were to ask my family and friends how I stay busy outside of the office, they would ask “How do you slow him down?” My family of five keeps me pretty busy along with my passion to create things in my spare time. If I were to try to explain the things I enjoy creating, you would probably not visualize the actual before and after. My wife, family and friends didn’t really grasp visually what I was creating in our side yard for quite some time until it was just about completed. Now they seem to just go with my ideas and love to see the progress as my projects come alive. Some twenty years ago way before the projects below I had entered a Homes and Garden contest that I came in third place for a backyard makeover I designed and created. I can say I have had the passion to create landscape designs for sometime now and really enjoy being out in the yard.
Below is one creation example of my side gate I created to our back yard with a play area for the kids up top. It is basically a 15-foot tree stump with a door in the middle as the side gate to the neighborhood from our back yard and a tree house up top with lights, cushions and internet. Some say it looks like something out of Disney. It is pretty cool at night with the lights. I have also created a boulder/dog house and am now creating a package locker for deliveries out front.
Process of Building Treehouse
Rosie Lewis is the Corporate Marketing Manager at The Lewis Group of Companies. Rosie is a Claremont native who enjoys hiking, yoga, and developing her green thumb.