In this edition of The Hiring Squad, Kent Elliott, principal at RETS Associates (RETS), a national real estate recruiting firm, connects with Tamara Tanner, partner and head of human resources at Swift Real Estate Partners (Swift), a vertically-integrated real estate operating firm focused on West Coast value-add office and industrial properties. The two discuss Swift’s rapid growth, need to hire a senior property manager and how a long-term relationship evolved into a strategic partnership – positioning RETS as an extension of the Swift team.
Kent Elliott (KE): Having been with Swift since its inception, tell me about the firm’s rapid growth and need to hire a senior property manager in San Francisco.
Tamara Tanner (TT): Swift has grown exponentially since founded by Christopher Peatross in 2010 with one office in San Francisco and a team of three including myself. Having known Christopher for 20 years as a friend and colleague, I, like many others, believed in and wanted to be a part of his dream to create a leading and vertically-integrated real estate investment firm serving West Coast markets. When we started out, the three of us did it all. We rolled up our sleeves, wore many hats and made our first acquisition of One Concord Center in 2010 and within two years, the firm made 10 more acquisitions in the Bay Area totaling nearly 2 million square feet of real estate.
Despite launching the business after one of the nation’s most pervasive recessions, Christopher’s strong work ethic, determination and industry expertise enabled him to grow our position from “Deal of the Year” for One Concord Center to “Dealmaker of the Year,” according to Bay Area Business Times. By 2018, Swift had approximately 70 employees and more than seven million square feet of real estate across eight regional offices on the West Coast. Last year, we had our greatest success in the Bay Area with 14 transactions totaling 4.5 million square feet and $1.6 billion in sales. As a result, we were ready to hire a seasoned and self-motivated senior property manager to help govern our large and fast-growing San Francisco portfolio which included four commercial properties in the heart of the city’s financial district.
KE: That’s very impressive and congratulations on being named “Dealmaker of the Year.” So, how does filling this role support the company’s business objectives?
TT: At Swift, we’re owner and operator. While occasionally, we use third-party property management firms, most of the time, we rely on Swift employees to deliver on our commitment to excellence in customer service. So, having a senior property manager who not only yields superior client service, but embodies our core values, enables us to reach our goal of expanding Swift’s vertically-integrated platform across the West Coast.
KE: In trying to fill this position, did the company face any hiring challenges that encouraged Swift to seek RETS support?
TT: There were a few. For one, we’re competing against mega real estate operating and investment firms in the Bay Area. Not to mention, we’re facing a tightening labor market making it difficult to attract top industry talent. As we continue to grow and expand, my role at Swift also has expanded from talent recruitment to employee relations, leadership training, compliance, employee benefits, performance management and more. As a result, we needed the support of a real estate recruitment firm who truly understands our company culture and values, and has a pipeline of highly-qualified and highly-trained candidates in property management. It only made sense that we would partner with a firm like RETS.
Having worked with the firm previously– and at one point– shared office space in San Francisco, I knew RETS would truly understand and deliver on our expectations. With their support, we identified three strong candidates –self-motivated individuals who work well under pressure, have strong mentorship skills and a resume of property management expertise– leaving us with a tough, but rewarding choice. We’re now working with the firm to fill an assistant property manager position to support our new senior property manager in operating our booming San Francisco portfolio.
KE: From a human resources standpoint, what advice do you have for real estate companies looking to hire top talent?
TT: Chemistry is everything. It’s about making a connection. While assessing candidates, it’s important to look beyond just education and skillset. There are certainly other key factors for consideration including personality, goals and values – all of which will determine if a person will best serve your business. Equally important is the candidate’s ability to foster meaningful yet professional relationships with clients, colleagues and mentees. From my perspective, great relationships fuel energy, encourage teamwork and inspire creativity, enabling employees to do their best work which ultimately impacts your company’s bottom line.