Working with Roger Cushwa in his role as President of the NY Tri-State Chapter is inspiring. He spends over 20-hours each month meeting with members, luxury service suppliers, and potential members – not including our board meetings, ad hoc committee meetings, phone calls with agencies, or emails with the national office.
Roger’s 25 years of service related experience ranges from distinguished military service and former law enforcement officer to being the general manager of a member-focused private club. In 2011, he completed the Starkey International Institute for Household Management’s four-week certification program, followed by his Associates Degree in Business Management with an emphasis in Hospitality/Tourism Management from Horry-Georgetown Technical College.
He is driven to have a positive impact on his Principals’ lives; allowing them the time to enjoy their interests. As an Estate Manager, he has overseen multiple locations, supervising the housekeeping, culinary, maintenance and landscaping staff. He excels at vendor management, gaining favorable contracts with his negotiating skills. Moreover, as with most Estate Managers, he coordinated residential, project construction, and renovation with experience substantial budgets of more than $1.5M.
As the Membership Co-Chair of the NY Tri-State Chapter, I spoke to him about being this year’s recipient.
Latricia Friend: Congratulations. How does it feel to be nominated by your peers as the 2016 DEMA Private Service Professional of the Year?
Roger Cushwa: It is a great honor and extremely humbling when I look at the past winners, and others I know in this profession.
LF: In your role as chapter president, what has made the biggest impact in your life? Professional Life?
RC: The chapter board members that I work with are the best. We have come together as a team, and we work extremely well together. We do not always agree, but I feel that we have had a very positive impact on not only the Tri-State Chapter but the association as a whole. Professionally, it has allowed me access to suppliers that I would have never known about were it not for my fellow DEMA members, and I now have a network of friends that spans the globe. I have made some wonderful friends and this list just continues to grow the longer I am in DEMA.
LF: During your acceptance speech, you mentioned several people in the room and members of the NY Tri-State Chapter board.
RC: I recognized the other chapter board members and encouraged everybody to support their local chapters. As a volunteer board, it is difficult to find folks that want to commit the time and energy to another leadership role. These folks need the support and encouragement of their chapter members to make the association reach the level of recognition and impact in our profession. By doing this, we strengthen not only the organization but every member in private service and making everyone better.
LF: You inspire me. Who or what inspired you to start a career in private service? Your work on the NY Tri-State Chapter board?
RC: Thank you, I was working as a mechanic in Myrtle Beach SC, and a customer left a section of the paper in the lobby. There was an article about a lady who had moved from California to Myrtle Beach, and she attended Starkey International Institute. I remember thinking that this sounded like something I would love to do. I went home, watched the video, and I remember getting chills and goosebumps. I started yelling for my wife to come here, that I had found what I was meant to do. It took me almost five years before I made it to Starkey, which was an incredible experience. I discovered that I have always loved to serve and make people feel special, and our industry is a perfect place for that to happen.
From my first position in Florida, I learned about DEMA and joined the West Palm Beach Chapter. I am passionate about the purpose and benefit of DEMA. This industry is so isolating for the Private Service Professional. So, to have an international association and network of professionals who understand these special needs is priceless. I had known then current Tri-State Chapter President, Steve Feldman, of Renovation Angel for almost three years before I moved to the northeast. I remember, moving to Connecticut and starting my new position on Monday, February 24, 2014, and Tuesday the 25 I was at my first meeting. I supported the chapter and in June Steve asked me to be Co-President with him. I worked with Steve until the 2014 convention and when he stepped down – I became the Chapter President.
I am passionate about DEMA, and I believe very strongly that with all of us working together, we can have a better and more positive impact on the lives of our Principals. The impact that we can have on society can boggle the mind. Imagine if my Principal was able to devote and extra three to five hours a day on curing cancer, creating jobs, reducing the debt, or improving the quality of life for not only all of their direct employees but society as a whole. This is the role that I play. I can give that person the time and space to figure out these problems without having to worry about the houses, cars, cleaning, yard work, and all of the other daily tasks that won’t lead to the cure for cancer, create jobs, or help restore balance to our planet.
LF: How will winning this award affect your work?
RC: I hope that it makes me even more committed to bringing the message and benefits of DEMA to not only Private Service Professionals but also to the Principals that we support. I want every Principal to have the best care possible, and every Private Service Professional to have the best working environment possible.
Many thanks to Christofle for their on-going support of the Domestic Estate Management Association. Christofle is a platinum-level sponsor of the DEMA convention and provided the sterling silver awards given each year.
Previous Award Recipients:
2015: Gary Cockerham
2014: Sara Recer
2013: David Barrie, Jr
2012: Richmond Schmidt
Photo: Matthew Haack, DEMA Co-Founder and President; Roger Cushwa, 2016 PSP of the Year; and Michael Wright, DEMA Co-Founder and Vice President
Photo Credit: DEMA 2016 Convention