STRO Realty: Leveraging AppFolio Investment Management and AppFolio Property Manager to gain efficiencies


Ridgewood, NJ

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STRO Realty is a commercial real estate investment and property management company with a strong history of delivering optimum results for their investors, partners and tenants. Founded in 1994 by Steven Millstein, STRO successfully manages and leases over 40 buildings and 3 million square feet with a valu-e of over $1 billion. The company is actively pursuing new value-add and stabilized small to medium size industrial real estate acquisitions in Northern New Jersey and plans to grow the portfolio to 5 million square feet by 2025.

A partnership with AppFolio

STRO's Chief Financial Officer, Steven Matejek, manages all things finance and accounting for the company. We met with Steven to learn more about how they are using AppFolio Investment Management to scale and support the growth of the entire STRO operation.

When did you realize you needed a software solution to help with your business and how did you end up choosing AppFolio?

At a certain point you really need some industry-specific software to help you do rent rolls and consolidations—especially cam reconciliations. About four years ago, I had to think about the future of the organization: what we wanted to accomplish, our corporate objectives, and how we would scale to support growth. I wanted a system that went beyond just accounting. We looked at a lot of smaller and larger systems. We looked at AppFolio, kept doing due diligence and gravitating back towards AppFolio for its functionality, its ease of use, and the ability to support the entire organization, not just the accounting. After looking at a lot of demos, it became clear that AppFolio was the system we would be most successful with—not only because of the feature set I had looked at, but looking beyond to the future. AppFolio's investment in R&D was important to me; I wanted a system that would continue to keep pace with us and the industry. And after looking at a lot of the big names, we landed very happily with AppFolio.

After looking at a lot of demos, it became clear that AppFolio was the system we would be most successful with—not only because of the feature set I had looked at, but looking beyond to the future.

Steven Matejek

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What were some of the key things that you were looking for, in terms of functionality?

Being able to easily access information, get information into the system, to share it with others, and turning data inputs into actionable information that we can share. AppFolio has very good functionality for managing investments. With other systems, you have to buy your core system and then to tag on a component with an integration that might be with a third party. As a small organization, we don't have a full time technology group to support all these integrations. Maintaining a staff to maintain systems with third parties gets very expensive, so we didn't want to do that. AppFolio was a one-stop shop able to support the whole organization across multiple disciplines.

How does AppFolio help you in your day-to-day?

With AppFolio Investment Management, it's a whole set of features and functionality that we're able to deliver, integrated seamlessly with the AppFolio Property Manager. We maintain all of our members' information in there: their ownerships, our operating agreements, all the things that support members of the LLCs. They have 24/7 access to a secure portal to answer their questions, instead of us fielding a lot of questions, which is time consuming. Doing distributions before was difficult, because you had to look up wiring instructions for each one. Now, when we do ACH distributions, every step of the process is a lot easier and more transparent. It's easier to share information internally and with our investors.

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Do you use AppFolio to manage distributions?

We do. We have waterfall calculations that start with preferential payment and treat distributions differently, whether it's a cash, cash flow activity, a refinance, or a sale on the property. The waterfall calculations help with that. Calculating this used to take complicated, fragile Excel spreadsheets. Now, you set up your waterfall calculations in AppFolio Investment Management, and it does it all for you. So it's, it's really great. Without AppFolio, I would be sitting in Excel all day trying to maintain all this stuff, which is just not a value added activity for us.

If you were to recommend AppFolio Investment Management to a colleague, what would you say?

I would say that the software supports what we're trying to accomplish. It gives us a lot of credibility, and professionalizes the organization— giving both sophisticated investors and non sophisticated investors total access to their information in a secure environment. We used to field a lot of calls, and now the self service saves us a lot of time. AppFolio reduces the opportunities for mistakes and increases security. We're not emailing information, it's all done over a secure portal. So, it's really a time saver and a money saver. Because I don't have to hire another person to do a lot of stuff. AppFolio has really transformed the business.

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