THE HIRING SQUAD: How to Find the Right Fit

In this executive Q&A, Kent Elliott, principal at RETS Associates, a leading national executive search and staffing firm that focuses specifically on the real estate industry, sits down with Brian Wilson, principal in the Los Angeles office of Bridge Development Partners, to discuss future expansion of their industrial development pipeline.

Bridge Development Partners is backed by one of the largest institutional investors in the United States and has plans to grow not only its development pipeline, but also its national corporate team in the coming years.

Kent Elliott (KE): The industrial property vacancies in the Southwest are quite low right now. Please describe the opportunity you see in the market and Bridge Development’s current activity.

 Brian Wilson (BW): We have more than 2 million square feet of industrial facilities in development throughout Los Angeles and the Inland Empire. We compete with the top industrial developers in Southern California and plan to grow our platform to be a major player in the region. We are just at the inflection point of this strategy and have a mindful but aggressive plan to continue to seek out exceptional candidates to meet, not only our business objectives, but also our capital partner’s investment objectives. Together, we will evolve dynamically and expand our investments into new markets in California and the West Coast.

KE: What were you looking for in an ideal candidate that could fill the role as Director of Development?

 BW: When it came down to skillset and office culture preference, we were looking for the right fit. We brought on RETS to help us find a candidate that had a broad range of experience with potential to evolve with us over time – and we were comfortable with RETS exploring candidates outside of the real estate development sector to find it. Specifically, we were in search of a candidate that had a critical thinking mindset that brought skills from experience in engineering and construction jobs, and was drawn to an office culture more like that of today’s leading edge companies.

Bridge Development’s office culture is truly creative. We want to cultivate a fun, dynamic environment that is not tethered to the conventions of the industry. We are known for throwing out the rule book, never taking “no” for an answer and going above and beyond both in our culture and in our developments. For this director of development search, we wanted someone that could break away from the traditional developer role and join us in taking our company to the next level in the competitive industrial real estate landscape.

KE: How is Bridge differentiating itself to attract top talent in an ultra-competitive hiring market?

 BW: Throughout the search, we worked with RETS to best communicate our competitive advantage to each candidate. We recognize that offering the potential for growth within a company is very attractive to a broad range of candidates including many Millennials today. It was also important to share the nature of our dynamic team, modern culture and aggressive approach to competing with the large industrial developers in the region.

We are in a growth mode following our first two years in Los Angeles and continued equity allocations from our capital partner for our nationwide platform. The commitment from our capital source offers a tremendous amount of growth potential for us both individually and as a company. This type of opportunity is very exciting to many including Millennials because they can learn, take responsibility and experience the fast pace of industrial real estate development. By clearly communicating the pieces of our company that differentiate us, candidates can picture themselves here and be part of the future growth.

 KE: What is your outlook on the hiring market and how it will impact Bridge moving forward?

 BW: Due to the cyclical nature of real estate, candidates are often understandably uncertain about the short-term future of the industry. It appears that candidates are a bit reluctant to take on new opportunities because they are contemplating how much runway is left in the current cycle. This search proved to be a special challenge for us in that environment, but we were in search of a candidate that was willing to invest in the success of a well-capitalized and emerging company.

Over the next handful of years, we will grow to be more dynamic, expand to new markets on the west coast and hire top talent at different levels of the experience spectrum.