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Aboda marks 25 years in the housing-services business
Being surrounded by all things Microsoft, Redmond residents may not know that one of the country’s major housing-services companies is also headquartered here. This year, Aboda celebrates 25 years in business.
Vice President Marilyn Kempter has worked for the company for more than 10 years, five in her current position. She said that Aboda feels like home, and that it is a terrific company to work for.
Aboda is an employee-owned company, she said, which automatically adds value to how business is conducted. Employees have ownership and it is exciting for them to know that they are the ones who make a difference.
Founded in 1988, the company was originally known as Northwest Suites & Housing Services, according to an article in the Puget Sound Business Journal. It changed its name to Aboda in September 2005 and at the same time, its employees bought out the previous owner and acquired an additional company in Boston.
Aboda provides a variety of corporate housing services for local and international employees. These include furniture rentals, concierge, cleaning services, property-management and destination services.
Aboda serves a particular group of people, Kempter said, most often employees who are relocating or interns transferring to new positions. Often, these new living arrangements may include a transfer of the whole family. To best accommodate their needs, Aboda representatives work closely with either the relocation specialists or directly with their guests. That way they are able to determine their exact needs, which may include a variety of things, some major, such as desired location because of a school district, or small, but important things, such as a crib.
With Aboda, guests “have a lot of options and we ask them a lot of questions to make sure that we can customize and get them exactly what they need, so they are most comfortable” when they relocate, Kempter said.
Aboda representatives put their guests first, she added, “and our culture is one that we just don’t say no to our guests, we find out what they need and we find a way to make it happen,” at least “we try,” Kempter added.
Aboda differentiates from its competitors for being very “nimble,” Kempter said. We are able to customize what we do and we do it very quickly, she continued. Aboda has its own housekeeping, furniture and carpet-cleaning internal services, which guarantees not only timeliness, but also the quality of work.
Additionally, Aboda has service-minded people who strive to make a constant difference in their community, Kempter said. This is why Aboda has established the community initiative program that serves the public in different ways. For example, every year Aboda helps with the renovation of a house, inside and out, while also donating furniture.
Vern Francis, who is the head of maintenance and a board member of the local nonprofit company Way Back Inn, has worked with Aboda for more than 12 years. Way Back Inn offers transitional housing for homeless families. These homes are located in Renton, Kent and Tukwila.
“Aboda has been an absolutely incredibly sponsor over the years,” said Francis. They paint the house, inside and out, they donate furniture and housewares, they do everything, from yard work and planting flowers to hanging paintings on the walls.
“They do everything that is necessary to make a house, a home,” Francis added.
In 2010, Aboda was awarded the NASS Medallion by then-Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed and recognized for its civic engagement and community services.
“Employees are encouraged to support and volunteer for charities near to their hearts,” said Patrick Reed, who is the current operations manager for the Division of Corporations and Charities Office of the Secretary of State.
To describe with detail why Aboda was honored, Reed said: “Volunteer hours and employee donations are matched dollar for dollar by Aboda. In 2009, Aboda employees personally donated over 250 hours of their own time to which Aboda matched in financial contributions. Additionally, in 2009, Aboda employees completely rehabbed a home for families transitioning from homelessness, Aboda provided 398 suite nights to families with children fighting life-threatening illness and Aboda donated tens of thousands of dollars in furnishings, housewares and electronics to several Puget Sound organizations.”
The next round of nominations is anticipated in the summer and the award presentation would likely take place in October or November, Reed added.
Aboda will continue to follow its clients in future years, Kempter added. The next step is to grow internationally, she said; currently the company is developing strategies to expand worldwide. Because professionals are often sent overseas for business, the company’s goal is to provide them with the same services as they receive in the United States. This is an ongoing project that will take time, but it is very exciting, she added.
Aboda has a store in Redmond that offers gently used furnishings for sale. For more information about the company, including this store, visit www.aboda.com or call (888) 389-0500.
Simona Trakiyska is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.