Senad Otovic has been a member of The Caledonia family since the doors opened in 2008. Always reliable when needed for repairs, painting, or construction advice, Senad has contributed greatly to our quality of life here at The Caledonia. He took time before his workday kicked off to sit with me and chat about his life inside and outside of The Caledonia.

Lance: Thanks so much for participating in the Q&A for lancenguyen.com. As one of my favorite Caledonia members, I wanted you to share a bit about you with residents who may or may not know you well.

Senad: My pleasure, thanks for having me.

Lance: Tell us a bit about where you are from and what brought you to New York City.

Senad: I am originally from Montenegro, a small and beautiful country on the Adriatic Sea between Bosnia and Albania. I came in 1986 at age 21 after finishing the army because my sister was already here and there was more opportunity in America than there was in my country. I first lived in Michigan and then came to New York.

Lance: Did you think you would stay here and build your life or did you plan to go home after spending some time in the US?

Senad: I knew I would stay here. After being here for 7 years I married my wife and we have two beautiful daughters. Now one of my daughters is graduating from college. She is older now than I was when I moved from Montenegro.

Lance: How did you begin your work in construction?

Senad: When I was still in Montenegro I had a friend who worked in painting and construction and who taught me the skills to make that my trade as well: plastering, painting, wallpapering, framing, etc. I started my own painting business 11 years ago and was introduced to The Caledonia by a friend of mine who was a super on 96th Street. He opened a new building and I told him I wanted to work in building maintenance. Through him I applied, was accepted for the job, and worked in Carnegie Hill for two years then was transferred to The Caledonia in 2008 when we opened.

Lance: How have you seen the city change since you’ve been here?

Senad: Buildings have been popping up like mushrooms all over the place for the last 5 or 6 years. And there are so many more people – you can tell with the traffic which has gotten very congested. It used to take me much less time to get to the city from where I live in Staten Island. Now it takes me sometimes an hour and a quarter.

Lance: How do you unwind when you’re not at work?

Senad: I like to socialize with friends and go fishing in Upstate New York around the Catskills.

Lance: How would you describe your time working at the Caledonia?

Senad: Nice. Nice, I like it. I really do. It’s not boring at all. It’s busy and I like to be busy. There is no down time. There are maybe ten of us who are the original Caledonia team, but all of us are close. We have each other’s backs and we help each other. The staff is very, very good actually. Very good.

Lance: Where do you like to go for a good meal in NYC?

Senad: For a good dinner I like to go to my own home. My wife is a very good cook. When I’m at work, Chelsea Market is the perfect place. I love to go there. The food is nice in there. Other than that I don’t go out much around the city. I spend time in my neighborhood in Staten Island.   

Lance: Thank you again for your time and for making The Caledonia a better place than it already is.

Senad: Thank you.

Written by Lance Nguyen