Sometimes practice is perfect.
When Laura Langman interviewed for the Controller position at USA Multifamily Management in 1998, she considered the interview practice for another position she wanted – with another company.
But the more she learned about USA Properties, from friends in the accounting industry to digging up information on the still-infant internet, the more she liked the opportunity and the possibilities it presented.
Almost a quarter-century later – and with about five times as many apartment communities – Langman remains happy with her decision to join USA Properties.
“It was the environment,” says Langman, a Certified Public Accountant who joined USA Properties after being an auditor with Ernst & Young. “I was part of a team.”
A critical piece of the team. In 2001, Langman was promoted to USA Properties’ Controller while keeping her original position for three years. She has been deeply involved in the company’s growth and finances from her very first days, handling everything from the annual corporate audits to the complexities of stock repurchases and sales.
“I wanted to own my own work,” Langman says of the decision to leave Ernst & Young.
And learn along the way. The company’s fast-paced growth required long hours and learning new skills.
Ed Herzog, one of the company’s first employees and now-retired Executive Vice President Chief Financial Officer, was her supervisor and mentor and remains her friend today.
“Ed was a great teacher,” she says. “He took the time to teach me to understand the business. He always made you feel like you mattered and acknowledged the things you did well.”
‘This is your finest hour’
Accounting is about crunching numbers, recording, analyzing, and reporting financial transactions, an often-overlooked but necessary task that gets little attention compared to closing a big deal or the opening of a new property.
“I’ve always felt supported and appreciated,” says Langman, who remembers company founder J.B. Brown’s annual practice of coming into her office while she was busy working on the company’s audits. Being a history buff, Brown would quote Winston Churchill and say, “This is your finest hour.”
Well, actually finest hundreds of hours.
“I like the numbers, I like the work, I like the detail,” Langman says. “I’m very detail-oriented.”
As the company grew and the accounting departments became larger, Langman’s love for the numbers was overshadowed by her duties as a supervisor.
Langman, who enjoyed the company and embraced the work, was starting to think maybe this is longer a good fit. She had not updated her resume but was starting to contemplate other potential opportunities.
Mentor Herzog had a better idea. In 2012, he established a Corporate Assistant Controller position for Langman. She could focus on task completion without the distraction of managing a department.
“The company made use of my skills, those I really like and am good at,” says Langman, a former financial services specialist with the U.S. Air Force that helped her graduate from CSU, Chico.
Now, Langman can continue doing what she enjoys and excels at for USA Properties.
Company President Geoff Brown has “more than once acknowledged the work that I do, saying ‘I need Laura to do that or look at that,’” says Langman, who greatly appreciates the kind words. “Ed made me feel that I was mattered as a human being and not just a cog in the work wheel.”
Outside the office
Animals, exercise, and home-improvement projects are Laura Langman’s passions.
She volunteers with the Placer SPCA – has fostered more than 100 kittens – and Lend a Heart, an animal-assisted therapy group that helps people, from seniors in memory-care facilities to special-needs students.
“I wanted to feel that I did something to give back,” says Langman, a self-described workout enthusiast. “I kept thinking what positive impact do I have on this world?”
She and her white miniature poodle, Brodie, have connected with many people during the past several years.
“He made a connection with this man, it was awe-inspiring,” she says of a visit with an elderly man residing at a memory-care facility. The gentleman seldom spoke but he connected with and talked to Brodie. “Brodie reached out and touched this man’s soul … It gave me chills.” Brodie had gently turned his head up and gazed peacefully into the man’s eyes.
When Langman and Brodie are not helping people, such as nervous flyers at the Sacramento International Airport, they are often busy with home-improvement projects.
“I thought it was my starter home,” says Langman, who bought her first house soon after joining USA Properties. “But, like my job, I’m still here after all these years.”