This line of work is in Kole Palushaj’s genes. Palushaj is a third-generation member of 32BJ and comes from a family full of supers and union members like himself. “Fifty percent of my family is in the union. My roots run deep,” he says. He grew up in apartments all over New York City learning the trade from his father and grandfather.
Palushaj has only been at his current building, the landmarked, 134-year-old 205 West 57th Street, for the last 18 months, but he’s been in the industry for 18 years. He oversees a staff of 11 people and manages the residents of 90 units — a very different feel from his previous West Village building with 400-plus units. He says his day never really starts or ends. “I can be up overnight to get my daughter a gallon of milk and there’s three or four things that need my attention on the way out the door,” he says.
The job of managing a building has changed a lot from his father and grandfather’s day, and now relies far more heavily on technology like smartphones and powerpoints. “It’s no longer the 50 pounds of keys and a guy walking around with a plunger and a flashlight,” he says.
Palushaj started as a doorman on Park Avenue and worked his way up the ladder from there. He says all the jobs he’s had have been equally hard, and credits a close mentorship with his first building’s resident manager with helping him rise to the top. “He took me under his wing as a handyman, taught me everything I needed to know and put me on the right path,” he says.
For that reason, Palushaj is adamant about helping young people in the industry the same way he was helped. He had a few temporary employees working for him this summer who he has set on the same path his mentor laid out for him years ago. “I gave them the same advice he gave me, which is if this is what you decide to do and you stick to it, you can make a very lucrative career of this industry, where it takes you,” he says.
In his limited free time, Palushaj is a family man. He and his wife have an eight-month-old daughter and a four-year-old son. He is the president of the Metropolitan Building Managers of New York and is actively involved with the 160-member organization. He was awarded “resident manager of the year” by the Metropolitan Building Managers this year as well. “A friend of mine said you can only go down from here,” he jokes.