Being a building super is no simple task, but Todd Salley of Westbeth Artists’ Housing tries every day to go above and beyond his job responsibilities to ensure the highest level of tenant satisfaction within his building, earning him the honor of Super of the Year.
“When I heard I won I thought it was a joke,” he says. “I thought to myself, ‘Me? There’s over a 1,000 supers in New York City, why me?’”
Salley, a lifelong New Yorker and Brooklyn native, never envisioned that he would be in the position he is today. His journey began in 1991 as a porter, but he quickly realized that was not his preferred career trajectory.
“I had to move on,” he explains. “I had this friend who worked as a super. He had a position available for a handyman and asked if I’d be interested. I told him I didn’t know too much, but he says ‘You follow my lead and you’ll be the best handyman.’”
He fulfilled his handyman duties for five years, and one day unexpectedly found a paper on his desk detailing the job requirements for a super position in Sunnyside, Queens. Salley’s friend had placed it there, confident that he was ready for the task.
“He said, ‘You can do this job, I want you to go for it.’ And then I was hired,” Salley says.
After eight years in Sunnyside, Salley’s bosses, who knew of his wish to work in Manhattan, offered him a post at Westbeth, the Greenwich Village nonprofit that provides affordable housing and studio space to artists. Salley has been working at one of Westbeth’s buildings, a 13-floor building on Bethune Street with 383 units, since 2009. He has no intentions of leaving any time soon.
“You have to be able to listen,” Salley says about what makes an effective super. “You can’t react on what they’re saying: just listen and go observe.”
His attentiveness has certainly gained the appreciation of his tenants. Salley’s tasks vary daily, but usually include directing his 22 staff members, contacting outside contractors, completing paperwork, paying bills and above all else, listening to the demands of residents.
“I try to make life easier for everyone. I try to make changes necessary to accommodate the residents and ensure that they are happy,” he says. “This whole building is like family”
Salley expressed his love for the job and his unyielding devotion to making sure his tenants enjoy agreeable living conditions. He says that he will continue to enjoy his role at Westbeth for as long as he can.
“I’m always smiling on the job. I can’t help it, that’s just me,” he says. “I don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon.”