PRESIDENT OF BLACKSTONE COOPERATIVE
Will Caldwell, President of Blackstone Cooperative and Board Member for 20 years, was selling BlueCross health insurance over 20 years ago when he was first introduced to MAHC. Incidentally, Will met the mother and father of Ralph Marcus, Blackstone Cooperative’s Manager. After talking with the couple regarding different ways to cut costs in healthcare, they developed a relationship and recommended him for his first board position. Will immediately began researching financial operations of a Cooperative in a quest to be an educated, well-rounded addition to his Board.
“Board member training is a priceless resource for us to become more well-rounded and give us ideas to bring back to our community,” says Will. “One year we would go to the national conference and one year we’d go to MAHC, but MAHC is more geared toward information that I can bring home to my co-op, more innovative and informative.” Will appreciates the types of classes that MAHC offers, because every year it’s different and refreshing. He takes conference classes quite seriously and usually fits 8 classes within 3 or 4 days because, “I want to contribute to our co-ops being #1!”
When asked what makes Will’s Cooperative advance, he replied, “Ralph Marcus. We don’t like to change people; Ralph Marcus has been managing Blackstone since 1975. He goes above and beyond and makes Blackstone work by being an excellent individual at every area.”
At one of the recent MAHC Conferences Will and his team took home three ideas from the classes they attended and implemented all of them within the last year.
“MAHC did a conference on security which really hit home. That class helped us make security our #1 priority at Blackstone after we endured issues with crime,” says Will. The Co-op altered several things such as purchasing additional lighting and changing security from unarmed to armed. Will is happy to report that crime has been down about 100% and plans making certain that the current status remains.
The second idea came from a class on “Marketing your Co-op in a down economy’, which the cooperative focused on after security. On open one-bedroom units, Blackstone offered one month’s complimentary carrying charges to encourage new activity. Members who lived in the co-op and referred a new member received 1 month free carrying charges. Advertisements were also increased but now made clear the co-op was not an apartment. The Co-op made itself distinct by titling ads, “Why rent when you can buy?” Vacancies went from 15 down to 8, and Will says the new implications are continuing to work well.
The third idea Will says was brought back from last year’s MAHC conference was a goal to build stronger relationships between the Board of Directors, the Management Company, the Staff and the Shareholders. The co-op puts on different mixers such as weekly Bingo night and day trips in order to encourage friendships as opposed to rankings and division.