Day in the life of: Dylan Pichulik
The CEO of XL Real Property Management on maintaining luxury apartments for wealthy investors, his yellow cab devotion and what's for dessert
Dylan Pichulik started in the business brokering rental deals in the early aughts when he joined Citi Habitats while he was still an undergrad at New York University. After graduating in 2004, the Atlanta native joined the brokerage’s on-site marketing team. He then jumped to work for developer Ziel Feldman — first at Property Markets Group and then at HFZ Capital Group, where he was ultimately promoted to director of property management. During his eight-year stint with Feldman, Pichulik came across a steady stream of foreign buyers. And when he saw how they struggled to maintain their investment properties from abroad, he smelled an opportunity. The 34-year-old left HFZ in 2011 and launched XL Real Property Management a year later. Today, the boutique company maintains more than 500 apartments across 200 buildings, including at the Time Warner Center, the Plaza, 50 United Nations Plaza, 100 Eleventh Avenue and other high-profile properties. The firm — which charges a commission on gross rent — caters largely to clients (mostly from Asia and the Middle East) who rent out units for between $5,000 and $125,000 a month. It does everything from troubleshooting maintenance issues to filing tax documents to collecting rent to renovating apartments and prepping them for sale. The 12-employee operation, which has a 1,500-square-foot office at 555 Madison Avenue, expects to gross $1 million in revenue this year. It also maintains some properties for developers and brokerages, including HFZ, Compass and Sotheby’s International Realty.
5:00 a.m. I roll out of bed in my Greenwich Village apartment, and my Goldendoodle, Wallace, and I go running on the West Side Highway. It’s exhilarating. You feel like you’re up before everyone else. I started running with him to get all his energy out before we come back and he destroys the apartment.
5:30 a.m. The other reason I’m up is nearly all our clients are overseas, so I have to talk to them before their day stops.
6:00 a.m. I turn my “Hustle” sign on, which means it’s officially the start of the workday. It was a gift from a family friend. I’m also watching the news. I like NY1 to see what’s going on in the city.
7:00 a.m. I’m taking calls and getting ready. I like to be in a suit most days. When you have a suit on, you have a certain frame of mind. Zegna is my go-to [brand], but I also like made-to-measure. I defer to my wife, Jodi Fried. She used to work for Tahari and Calvin Klein, and now she runs her own fashion business from our apartment.
7:45 a.m. When we have clients in town, I’ll grab breakfast with them. We’ll talk about their portfolios. They often come to me to say, “What are the best kinds of assets to buy?” When that’s not happening, then I go up to my office. I’m constantly on the phone, so I usually take a cab. I’m not big into Lyft or Uber. I like to support the local New York cabbies.
8:30 a.m. The two people I’m speaking to before 9 are my director of operations, Josh Rosen, and our CFO, Ryan Cruz. We inherit a lot of messes from either other companies or people that have tried to self-manage and didn’t do a good job.
9:00 a.m. I start following up on whatever activity I need to. I always have a running Post-it note of the priority items. The day doesn’t finish until all the items are checked off.
10:00 a.m. I spend the morning going to apartments. Generally, I’ll stop by apartments we’re renovating. I’m the type of person who wants to see it and feel it. People will say, “Choose a sample,” and I’m like, “No, I want to be there with the sample.” I also like to spend time with the contractors. They’re really controlling the process, and people like to see that you’re involved. If you’re not, sometimes they try to take advantage.
1:00 p.m. Lunch is often with clients or vendors. My favorite spots are Sant Ambroeus for paninis — they’re literally my favorite — Milos, Serafina, the Food Hall at the Plaza and Freds at Barneys. We recently saw Louise Sunshine at Freds. We used to manage her two investment apartments at the Setai, which she’s since sold.
2:00 p.m. After lunch is my “problem-fixing time.” I’m untangling whatever messes people got themselves into. Just the other day, I was in this beautiful $45,000-per-month apartment and the tenant took the toilets. The tenant had installed their own specialty toilets and instead of putting back our toilets after the lease was up, they installed these cheap $100 toilets. If I’m not in the field, I’m probably wandering around the office, driving everyone crazy. I literally can’t sit still; every three months, I get new shoes.
5:00 p.m. I spend one hour a day looking at new technology. One concept I’ve been interested in recently is how security deposits are handled so tenants can avoid paying out of pocket for a full month of rent.
7:30 p.m. My nights vary. Oftentimes, I’m going to dinner with clients or a trunk show or event with my wife, or just having dinner with her. One of our favorite restaurants — and everybody laughs at us — is the Knickerbocker. It’s a Greenwich Village institution. We’re probably the youngest people in there by decades.
10:00 p.m. I check in with clients in Asia on WeChat. Then I spend time with my wife and puppy. We’ll watch CNN and Bravo or HGTV real estate and reality shows. I’ll also have a snack that could be a half a box of Girl Scout Thin Mints cookies. Don’t hate me — I can eat the whole box without gaining an ounce.
11:00 p.m. I like to be in bed. I sleep like a log.