2012 Columbus Smart Leaders: Brad Kitchen, President, Alterra Real Estate Advisors

Brad Kitchen, President, Alterra Real Estate Advisors

Give us an example of a business challenge you and/or your organization faced, as well as how you overcame it.

During the recent economic downturn, commercial real estate investments fell out of favor; no one was buying property, banks were not lending, and tenants were not signing leases. Alterra Real Estate Advisors turned this into an opportunity to acquire competitors’ market share by aggressively focusing on operating expense reductions for building owners through property management and overhead reductions for companies through lease restructuring.

At the same time, Alterra also focused on helping owners of troubled commercial real estate assets and receiverships by using our expertise at turning around these types of properties. We now manage many properties which we have reduced expenses over $100,000, increased their occupancy, improved cash flow, and obtained multiple sale offers.

Alterra has been so successful with this strategy that many of our listings have been sold, and we had to add to our leasing and property management portfolio. We capitalized on our proven methods and have grown our property management and leasing portfolio by 20 to 40 percent annually.

In what ways are you an innovative leader, and how does your organization employ innovation to be on the leading edge?

Alterra manages properties in different ways than our competition. For example, we focus on service and savings for our property owners by outsourcing our maintenance staff which minimizes our costs and we pass those savings on to our clients. We only send personnel to buildings when needed instead of having the owner incur the expense of full time on site employees. Alterra manages buildings to maximize savings for the owners and tenants.

I lead by example. Staff and sales agents are personally trained — hands-on — in every aspect of the business, from making calls, securing tenants and getting new clients. I also encourage my agents to be persistent and “think outside the box” to come up with creative solutions to close the deal. “No” means that you have not given enough reasons to say “yes,” so keep trying.

I work to instill an entrepreneurial spirit in my staff that is based on saving our clients money and exceeding their expectations. Our entrepreneurial culture is one that is hard for our competition to compete with.

I strive to keep my organization thinking proactively about solutions to property management, leasing and sales issues. I want Alterra to be the first to know about what’s next, the new trends in the industry, and how can we capitalize on them. We identify trends such as the recent upswing in the commercial real estate market and positioned ourselves and our clients to benefit from this turn in the market. We have also been ahead of the curve in logistics and technologies impacting commercial real estate.

Our company’s mission is instilled in the minds of our team. Everything they do is focused on the mission of maximizing our clients return on investments in real estate and minimizing their overhead costs. We are the consistent provider they can count on to get the job done and maintain an entrepreneurial attitude. We will do whatever it takes to help our clients, hence our slogan: “We’re On It.”

How do you make a significant impact on the community and regional economy?

Alterra works very hard to attract companies to open facilities and bring jobs to Central Ohio. We also work with companies in the community to help them minimize their facilities’ costs and expand their profit. I am very active in several local chambers, including the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, the Logistics Council and Columbus 2020.

Alterra and its employees are involved in many charities, serve on various boards, and participate in other volunteer activities to help those entities operate more cost effectively. I have offered financial consultation to homeless and underprivileged families to help them make better financial choices and get back on their feet. I am the former President of the Brewery District Association, am chairman of the National Education Committee for the International Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR), and Alterra employees are actively involved in the Capital Area Humane Society.  Alterra’s staff also produced and starred in a public service announcement to benefit the Humane Society. Alterra’s management and staff look for ways to give back to the community and to help individuals.

Brad Kitchen is the president of Alterra Real Estate Advisors