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"Mill Creek Village Manager Wendy Kavurmas on renting and renovations with PhillyBurbs.com
Who would imagine that one of Westover’s own once had a life that practically reads like a James Bond movie?
Little did most of us know about floater Stephen Faulls intriguing life before joining Westover. Following a 20-year sales career at DuPont (during which time he earned a marketing degree) and a stint with a high tech company based in Kentucky, in the early 1990’s, Steve decided to branch out on his own as an entrepreneur. But this wasn’t just your ordinary, run-of-the mill business venture. Steve came up with an idea to “sell modular refineries to the Russians.’’ It was just subsequent to the collapse of communism in the USSR in the early 1990’s and Steve says, “The fact that communism fell, it was like the wild, Wild West. There was no plan. The currency there fell apart.” So what does he do? He comes up with a proposal to provide a refinery in the Ural Mountains, a mountain range that runs for thousands of miles from the north to the south in Western Russia.
In what could have been a huge windfall for Steve, unfortunately, after spending a small fortune to travel back and forth to Zurich, Switzerland and Russia, turned out to be a total ‘bust.’ And meanwhile, back in the US, Steve’s second marriage was crumbling and he had two children he was supporting. "I ran out of money, lost my home (in Kentucky, which once had actually been featured in Better Homes & Garden magazine, and where he flew his own hot air balloons) and had to get a job.” That’s when he answered an advertisement for a maintenance position at the Westover's newly acquired Glen Eagle apartments in Delaware. With Steve’s knowledge of plumbing and electrical understanding, Ken Coffman hired him on the spot. He then worked for Bill Engle on the crew for about nine months.
What a switch from negotiating oil refineries in Russia to installing kitchens and appliances in apartment units. “It was a very difficult transition for me mentally to go from earning a living with my creativity and smarts to that. I had to learn to adapt to earning a living via another route.” He explains that Gunti eventually offered him a co-manager position at Oak Tree and then at Glen Eagle apartments. Things were going pretty smoothly until one day when he was working at Glen Eagle, just five years ago, Steve suffered a stroke at work. He eventually recovered and ended up working as a floater in 2008. Then misfortune struck again. Last April 2012 Steve was diagnosed with cancer. “It was truly a WOW moment of 2012.’’ He explains that he had been experiencing severe pain in his neck and just thought perhaps he had slept weird or worst case he had a pinched nerve.
However, not only did the pain continue but got progressively worse. He describes the scan the doctor showed him of his spine. “Just like the Apple symbol has a bite out of it, that’s what the C6 vertebrae looked like in my spine. “Ouch! Steve stopped working on April 9, 2012. The doctors told me I had only 3 to 6 months to live. But they also said if he was willing to fight and undergo many difficult treatments, he can have up to three years. “I’ve never been one to give up,” Steve says. He’s since gone through many rounds of radiation and chemotherapy leaving him oftentimes sick and unable to even eat or move.
In October 2012 his oncologist told him, for now, “We put the monster to sleep.” At which point Steve packed his bags and flew to England to see his youngest son, Branden. Just like his dad, Branden has lived an exciting and varied life so far. Starting his career as a ballet dancer and living all over the world, he is now creating an online medical research website. Branden has two children, Bella Skye, 3, and Bracken, 1. Following Steve’s visit with them, He flew to Kentucky where his other son, Gregory, who earned his PhD in Philopsophy and Religion and is a minister at a church in KY with 3,000 parishioners. He has four children, Christina, 20; Abigail, 14; Nathan, 17; and Micah, 6. “I am very blessed,” Steve says, with his great big smile, “and the most important thing is the love you get.”
“My (first) wife was a genius. The kids got my common sense and her intelligence,” he says jokingly. “My children are my treasures.'' His son Gregory, who counsels many of his parishioners, recently told his dad that the legacy Steve's leaving for him is his attitude. “Phenomenal,” Gregory said. And that it is! After spending time with his sons and grandchildren, Steve has once again started his chemotherapy maintenance treatments and once again it is causing him terrible weakness and illness. But he battles on… and has even returned to work part time. His newest philosophy is that “Time is now money. You need to spend it wisely.” Thankfully, continuing to work for Westover part time is one way in which Steve wants to spend his time.
Westover Companies presents an Employee Spotlight: Linda Howley
As the famous, oft repeated quote goes, “there’s no place like home.” And this couldn’t ring more true for Rosetree Crossing/Gayley Park/Woodview Apartments manager Linda Howley. “It’s like a home to me. I couldn’t picture being anywhere else,” Linda says about the property where she and her sister got their first apartment together more than 30 years ago in the 1970’s. But it wasn’t until several years later, after getting married and having three children that Linda saw an advertisement for a job at Rosetree Crossing/Gayley Park. “I was so excited to work there,” she says of her job starting as a co-manager in 1998.
Now, it’s been more than a decade since she became manager and her feelings about the place haven’t changed. And speaking of changes, there have been many, but she says, “All of the changes have been made for the better.” For example, Westover only recently added Woodview apartments to its roster in 2007, and there was no such thing as a Floater! She has also observed several people leave and return to the company as well as a few co-managers depart to become managers under her watch.
Linda has even gotten her family involved with the Westover family. Her eldest son, Edward Jr., or Eddie as he is called, is now a Ridley Township police officer. Her middle son Michael, 30, was hired following his stint in the military. “Gunti said he was our American hero,” Linda says proudly. He worked on the Westover crew, which is when, she explains,” he realized he liked working with his hands.” He is currently working for Delcora. Mike lived on the property for five years before he and Eddie bought a house together and in which they now live. Linda’s daughter, Sheri, 27, while not a former Westover resident or employee, is a nurse and is soon going back to school to be a nurse practitioner. Linda also has two grandchildren. Well, not actually “real” grandchildren. Kaci and Apollo are actually two adorable boxers who for now, while her three children remain single, Linda calls her grandchildren.
Unfortunately, life hasn’t been all smooth sailing, as Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. “I was lucky,” she says, “It was caught early.” It will be almost a year since Linda has been cancer free. But that road has not been terribly easy. Despite her courage, following surgery, every day for three months, Monday through Friday, Linda received radiation. She went in for her treatment at 8 a.m. and still managed to make it to work. “Lana and Kate were wonderful, they really helped me out,” Linda says of her two co-managers, who she adds, were very compassionate. “With radiation, you’re burnt to a crisp.” Something, she explains, she will continue to feel the pain of for some time. Let’s not forget Linda’s husband of 33 years, Edward Sr., an auto-mechanic, who has also been supportive through her recovery. Sadly, breast cancer runs in Linda’s family and both her mother and her sister have had the disease. Both are survivors, but Linda’s sister’s was a much more serious and tough case. Linda even stepped in to take care of her sister’s ten-year old daughter during that time.
After all that she has gone through, Linda sounds thrilled about her niece Rachel’s upcoming wedding in Jamaica in 2014. “I really haven’t done anything in years, she says, so I’m like, YES, I am going!” when she heard the news about the destination wedding. In the meantime, when she’s not managing her Westover properties or her own house, she still socializes with her four best friends from high school. “We’ve laughed and cried together,” she says of the friends who have stayed in touch all these years.
Thank goodness for Linda’s good friends, her compassionate children and the rest of her support system because soon her husband will be having an operation as the result of a car accident he had several years ago. “I always try and say it could be worse. But, overall, “things are good and in a few years I’ll be retiring and maybe having (real) grandchildren!”
In the meantime, the three properties she manages keep her challenged. She explains that residency is currently at 97 percent. Not bad, but “we’re not getting the traffic we used to”. In order to be a good manager one should try and stay on top of things, including phone calls and resident concerns. You need to show people a nice product and a good team. Something which, she says, she and her group strive for, to do the best we can.
"Our Media Team (left to right) Kate, Linda, Lana"
"Westover would like to thank Joe Savage, Mike Shaffer, Andy Laboy, George Howard and Earl Jones for making us proud by representing the "Westover Green" at Maintenance Mania.