integrity is a very simple but important
example of how we manage our risk
exposures. Having the best resources
in place also manages our risk. We
have a highly qualified team with varying backgrounds, all contributing to
the whole. Through continuing education and the school of hard knocks, we
learn through our shared experiences.
Development: What qualities do you
look for when hiring senior staff?
Walsh: We target those with an entrepreneurial spirit who are passionate
about what they do. We routinely say,
“If it were easy, everyone would be
doing it.” Those driven by identifying
opportunities, addressing challenges
head on and who have a desire to
succeed will do well. To accomplish
such feats, we believe they must be
excellent communicators. Further, it is
critical that they understand the risks
associated with our business, recognize their strengths and weaknesses,
and take advantage of the resources
Development: What economic or
market indicators do you track on
a regular basis to keep up with the
Walsh: Since our primary business is
in developing and redeveloping real
estate, we must continually monitor
the hard and soft costs of development. Critically important are financing costs, and those are not always
simply monetary in nature. We must
align our project costs with market
rental conditions. This can be a delicate balance during challenging economic times. In addition, we closely
monitor national and local transaction
trends to evaluate and optimize the
timing of refinancings and/or sales.
Development: Over the next 18
months, what challenges and opportunities do you see for the commercial
real estate development industry?
Walsh: We are optimistic about the
next 18 months. The markets appear
stable and we have enjoyed high
demand for our product for the past
several years. We see this continuing
over the near term. We’re monitoring
the banking industry and the chal-
lenges ahead for financing real estate.
In addition, we actively participate in
the ongoing discussion regarding how
taxation changes can influence how
we do business.
Development: Looking out three to
five years, what do you see on the
horizon that will impact the industry?
What are you doing today to prepare?
Walsh: Our business model continues
to evolve. Structuring transactions
to maximize the investments of our
stakeholders is paramount to our success. Instead of waiting for the news
and reacting, we are actively involved
in leading real estate organizations such
as NAIOP. This helps us to understand
and/or influence relevant issues and
to be prepared for the future.
Development: How has the industry
changed during your career?
Walsh: Over the years there have
been ups and downs, and that can be
expected. Living through the Great Recession and seeing and understanding
the devastating and profound effect
on the real estate industry was most
certainly an eye-opener. The entire
industry learned from it. Those who
survived came out stronger and smarter.
At Irgens, we have become more
focused in our service delivery. We
do not attempt to be everything to
everyone; instead, we aim to be the
very best to the valued few.
Development: What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned over the
course of your real estate career?
Walsh: Do not fall behind. Stay ahead
and lead. Don’t leave others guessing
at where things stand; always be out
in front and communicate progress.
If you don’t do this, you are simply
reacting to others. n
By Ron Derven, contributing editor, Development