Q and A with a California-based Estate Manager

Patrick Tremo is an Estate Manager I placed 2.5 years ago to manage multiple properties for a
California-­based family.

Here’s an excerpt from my recent Q+A with Patrick.

What skill or mindset is essential for success as an Estate Manager?
Being able to tame your own ego is very important. In my previous career as a Hotel Manager, I was goal and profit ­driven, whereas domestic staff must be service driven.

Can you elaborate on that?
You really need to understand what your Principal’s goals are for that day. You will have many projects going on at once...and they will be both short and long term. The successful Estate Manager must understand that what was important to his or her Principal the previous day may very well not be important at all the next day. You must not be so driven in reaching a goal that you forget to listen to your Principal to truly determine what is most important that day. This is the number one reason why I believe some managers from other industries have a difficult time transitioning to Estate Management. In the corporate world, managers are goal driven.

The client I placed you with has a wide spectrum of needs. How is the job going?
I didn’t realize how badly the family truly needed an Estate Manager. The employees were taking advantage because no one was watching them. I’ve replaced 5 out of the 7 staff and it had to be done delicately and diplomatically. It took 3 months. I then hired more qualified and professional staff and trained them for the needs of this property.

I’d like to be a fly on the wall following you. Tell me more. What was on your to­-do list last week?
I managed a 9,000 gallon water storage project for one of the main estate homes. I’m creating a database to catalog artwork, jewelry, furniture and other items in the home. I booked some business and family vacation travel. And I’m beginning the process of managing a few of my Principal’s homes to become vacation rentals at varying times of the year. I’m also managing the complete renovation of one of the international homes. And I pruned the grapevines the staff planted several months ago on the main property.

What’s been your most challenging project as an Estate Manager?
At my previous property in Sonoma County, I was hired to manage the complete renovation of 3 estate homes and guest grounds, on a 13,000 acre property, that had fallen into disrepair over the last few decades. I managed a construction crew and staff. The estate homes and grounds were transformed back to their original state so my Principal and his family could once again enjoy the homes and grounds. At his request, I then developed the estate into a premier wine country event venue generating revenue for the owner which became profitable after 3 years. 

I’m glad you’re staying busy! How do you recharge?
You will find me in the gym most mornings at 5 AM. In my off time, I mountain climb and
backcountry ski. By staying fit, I find that it is much easier to confront stressful situations at work.
An Estate Manager is the catch all, the chief “problem solver” – so, I stay fit to keep my mind
and body ready to take on the next task.