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nazario eco-fits the whitney, while pondering the difference one person can make in life

by linnea covington

for over 20 years, victor nazario has opened doors, fixed plumbing, changed light bulbs, found dead people, helped save a man's life and dealt with a slew of complaints. now, as he caps his sixth year as the residential building manager at the whitney at 311 e. 38th st., he has been dealing with a new project-making the building green.

"the whole industry is changing and going green," nazario, 52, said. "you can retrofit the instruments, equipment, lighting and even the plumbing so that the building can save money and be more environmentally friendly."

this change is a far cry from when he started in the industry at 18 years old, following the path of his father. his first gig was as a doorman at a residential building on 59th street. it was here nazario got inspired to move up and do more with his life by watching mr. ramirez, the building manager. as nazario marveled at his mentor's clothes, the respect he got from the tenants and his ability to organize everything, he knew that was the path he wanted to go down.

"every day i would open the door for his wife and children," said nazario, reminiscing. "i looked at them and thought, 'one day i would like to have a doorman open the door for my wife and children.'"

so instead of sitting idly by, nazario took charge and asked mr. ramirez how to become a building manager. the first suggestion he got was to attend the thomas shortman training school, which taught everything from plumbing, carpentry and electrical work to all you ever needed to know about boilers. for six years, nazario attended night classes while keeping his day job as a doorman.

because of his tenacious studies, nazario was the first one in his family to finish high school, and it enabled him to write a short book for his thesis, prosperous leaders in the new millennium.

"it renewed my thinking," he said. "you meet a lot of successful people in this industry and it helped me to talk to them."

though he completed his goal and got promoted, after a few years, nazario decided to take a hiatus from the service industry and took a job as regional director with the promise keepers organization, a nonprofit religious group that works with men to teach them how to be better fathers and husbands. he worked with them for 12 years before returning to his first love, building managing.

six years later, nazario has happily held his post at the whitney and lives there with his wife of 32 years. the couple has three grown children, two of whom, like nazario, have followed their father's path as a concierge and a building manager.

"it just goes to show you how one man impacted a kid at 18," he said. "and it's not only me, but my children. because of him, they were able to pick from my experience, which helps them in their careers."

as he attends more classes at his alma mater in greening the building, nazario continues to greet the residents and try to make the whitney as pleasant as possible.

"i can't satisfy 100 percent," he said. "but i find it's a great thing when you can turn their anger and sadness around and make them feel happy in their home."

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