By Linda O’Flanagan
Jason Griffith says he came up with the idea for creating an online platform for tracking building compliance while watching his father, an elevator consultant, toil away at an Excel spread sheet for a client.
His father was individually tracking the number of violations and inspections for every elevator car across a 100-building portfolio.
The painstaking analysis was out of date as soon as it was completed.
“The more people I spoke with in the industry, the more I learned that compliance was getting more complicated and costly with each passing day,” said Griffith.
A tech worker since graduating from Georgetown in 1999, he said he saw opportunity in making compliance data “accessible, actionable and impactful” to the real estate companies that need it.
He’d been itching to start his own company since graduating Columbia Business School with an MBA in 2006 and reached out to Columbia classmate, Ross Goldenberg, to help him build a firm that could take the pain out of compliance for building owners and managers.
In 2008, the pair established SiteCompli and what they quickly realized was that elevators were just the tip of the iceberg.
Companies such as FirstService Residential, for example — the largest residential property management company in the city, with a portfolio of more than 70,000 residences — was facing repeated fines for issues ranging from a blown out light bulb in an elevator, to a plastic bag mixed in with the recycling paper.
“With portfolios that large, it is quite possible to face repeat fines primarily because the information tied to these types of violations not reaching those who are working to right the issue in time to avoid a penalty,” said Griffith. “This is where SiteCompli comes in.”
Griffith and Goldenberg created proprietary software that is capable of automatically and continuously monitoring, reporting and alerting on compliance issues.
Their solution has fundamentally changed the way leading property owners, managers and investors track and manage compliance for their real estate portfolios in New York City.
For FirstService, one of several major clients of the firm, Griffith said each of the buildings was custom-configured on the SiteCompli system to reflect staff members’ responsibilities, ensuring that pertinent information reaches the right people.
“In the first six months of using SiteCompli’s FDNY monitoring feature for example, FirstService Residential successfully closed over 60 FDNY violations,” said Griffith. “Since the company now receives regular and reliable updates of upcoming ECB hearings, the total number of default judgments and fines associated with them has been reduced by 45 percent.
“Compliance rules and regulations become more complex and expensive every year and it takes an extensive amount of time, effort and money to stay on top of it all,” said Griffith.
“Our technology platform continuously aggregates and analyzes information from the city’s key agencies, keeping clients ahead of complaints, violations, rule changes, work permits, fines and court hearings, ultimately saving them substantial time and money.”
Over the past five years, Griffith and Goldenberg have grown SiteCompli to handle the compliance issues for over one billion square feet of residential and commercial space throughout New York City.
According to Griffith, he’s been able to accomplish an “over the top” service level through focus on attracting and retaining talented individuals that are as committed to the company’s mission as its founders.
“Our goal is to exclusively hire the ‘superstars amongst superstars” to join the team who are as excited about finding innovative ways to improve how the real estate industry does business as we are,” said Griffith.
“We are proud that we were able to create a product that improves the way building owners and managers take care of compliance issues while also making buildings safer and less costly one square foot at a time.
“Our business is driven almost entirely by referrals. One of the great things about the New York real estate industry is that, although many owners and managers compete with each other on individual deals or buildings, the group still very much a community that looks out for each other and shares best practices.
“We’ve worked hard to incorporate the feedback from our clients, the largest and most influential owners and managers in New York, into our product to facilitate that sharing of best practices. As a result, we’ve become the industry standard platform to monitor and manage compliance and this has driven a large volume of referrals.”