THE HIRING SQUAD: Recruiting Gets Personal with Family Office

When looking to hire someone that can grow long-term with a company, a recruiting firm must dive deeper into the interpersonal relationship between a candidate and a prospective employer’s existing team. It’s more than qualifying experience and skills sets; it requires an understanding and matching of a candidate’s values both inside and outside of the office.

In this executive Q&A, Kent Elliott, principal at RETS Associates, a leading national real estate recruiting firm, and Adam Horowitz, President of the Southern California family office Horowitz Group, discuss the journey, experience and matchmaking that was required to find the ideal candidate who would become an extension of its family.

Kent Elliott (KE): The Horowitz Group invests in more than just real estate. Please describe a bit more about the type of investments the family makes.

Adam Horowitz (AH): The Horowitz Group was founded 25 years ago after my father sold the family ready-mix concrete company that my grandfather founded. We are a true single family office that invests our own capital. We are opportunistic investors with a focus on commercial real estate and growth equity (multi-unit retail concepts). One of our biggest bets was Sprouts Farmers Market, and more recently, Lemonade Restaurant Group. We were early investors in the healthy grocery concept and helped it grow into a public company with more than 200 stores nationwide. My passion and background is in real estate, and we’ve been fortunate enough to find a real estate aspect in each of our investment opportunities.

KE: You recently hired a senior vice president as part of your management team. Please describe more about the reason for the hire and why you selected the candidate that you did?

AH: Our real estate portfolio is expanding, and we needed a senior employee that was more than an asset manager. We wanted a person with an ownership and partner mentality who takes initiative, could hit the ground running, and could provide the firm with deeper visibility into our assets. Additionally, our firm places a great value on a family atmosphere and spends a significant amount of time together inside and outside of the office. When searching for the perfect candidate, it was paramount to find someone that exhibited the trust and integrity that we require. My goal was to find someone that could be my partner for the next 20 years and beyond.

With this leading our initiative, we dove deep into the candidates and found the perfect one. He was well-rounded with experience in office and multifamily acquisitions, dispositions, asset management and development. His long tenures with previous companies demonstrated that he was relationship driven and loyal. He had been with a family‑oriented, entrepreneurial company as well as an institutional, process-driven firm that could bring great experience to ours. Plus, I learned that he is a true family man that is active in the community socially, politically and philanthropically – and those attributes are very important to who we are as a firm.

KE: How did you go about the discovery process to confirm he had the qualities that you wanted?

AH: His resume and background spoke for itself. However, understanding his emphasis on family, and trustworthiness and integrity required us to spend time together to build an interpersonal relationship. I was not in a rush to hire because I wanted to get it right. But I made sure that I was regularly communicating with him. After the first interview, I asked him to join me for drinks and team dinners with the firm’s families to further understand him in social situations and begin building bonds. In a family office, it’s not all about business – there are kids and stakeholders coming through on a daily basis, and I needed to confirm that he would connect with and relate to each and every one of them.

To me, it was more than just deciding whether or not he was a culture fit. With RETS’ help, we went the extra mile to see if he, and his family, could become part of our family. This process confirmed that he matched our ethos and could truly be the partner we needed for continued growth.

KE: Tell me about the role that the recruiter played in the process and if there was anything that surprised you along the way.

AH: At the end of the day, selecting someone to join a firm is a gut feeling. However, RETS took the time to deeply understand what made us tick, what we valued and who we were. This process not only helped me understand what the field of talent looks like today, but it saved me a great amount of time and narrowed in on our perfect match. When RETS first presented the candidate that we ultimately selected, I realized that I knew him in business school – which was not something I was expecting. I recognized his name, remembered his personality and knew that RETS was spot on. From there, it was a process of confirming what I already believed to be true. I didn’t feel the need to meet with other candidates, but I did so to confirm my gut feeling was correct. When I first decided to embark on this search, I didn’t even think of him – and it really made me appreciate RETS’ reach and network of candidates.