Feeding the entrepreneurial fire at Terrus
A management change another step forward as company refocuses and 'retools'
Friday, April 20, 2012 7:00 AM
Terrus Real Estate Group LLC plans a full-scale push into the real estate brokerage market, with changes that give a new title to a trusted hand and provide the company’s original broker more freedom to do what he does best.
Terrus President and CEO Randy Minear said the company had “no great expectations” eight years ago when it hired Bill Wright as its one and only broker.
That arrangement worked just fine. Wright represented clients and eventually became the manager of a crew of brokers that now stands at nine.
Wright “was a draw for other brokers,” Minear said.
In 2011, the brokerage division had its best year since Minear founded the company in 2000, leaving Principal Financial Group Inc. after its decision to get out of the business of managing its own properties.
Terrus was formed as a multifaceted real estate management company. Minear eventually built a staff made up of former Principal property specialists.
The company is noted as a dominant player in the downtown market, but it has a national reach, and its offerings include transaction services, development and construction management. It provides services for investor-owned properties as well as corporate facilities.
Until last year, it managed Principal’s 2.4 million-square-foot downtown campus and the company’s satellite offices in 15 countries. Principal decided last year to go with Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. to manage its corporate properties.
That decision rekindled an entrepreneurial spirit at Terrus, allowing it to focus on projects already in the works, such as a Web portal where clients can keep up to date on their properties, learning details about maintenance expenses, for example, Minear said.
“It allowed us to fully focus on where we were headed and provided a chance to retool what we are really about. That’s one of the big positives about it. … It got us over the goal line,” he said.
Though losing the Principal account was a blow, Terrus is not staggering. It still manages more than 3 million square feet of property and its brokers list about 150 properties.
Terrus was a player in the deal that brought Microsoft Corp. downtown, and it is slowly filling space at the Bank of America Building, where the StartupCity Des Moines incubator has opened shop on the fifth floor.
StartupCity’s presence downtown in a relatively small space – about 10,000 square feet – is an indication of the types of businesses that can help rejuvenate the area after big-scale occupants have left for the suburbs or moved out of older buildings and into their own corporate campuses downtown.
“You’ve got a couple of guys taking some risks and encouraging other people to take some risks,” Minear said. “Start-ups are a good fit for downtown. The Class B, older buildings, are great for small professional companies. Some law firms are increasing their footprint by a small amount. The trend line is shifting to small companies wanting to be downtown.”
Terrus also has spent about $500,000 over the last two years making improvements to 100 Court Ave., where the company is the managing member of the building’s ownership group. This past week, Terrus moved its headquarters to the fourth floor of that building from a Principal-owned building on 10th Street.
Part of the climate of change at Terrus was Wright’s desire to focus on his role as a broker rather than as a manager.
“After seven or eight years, I just wanted to focus on what I do best,” Wright said.
He approached Minear about making a change. The two men decided that Terrus Vice President Dan Dutcher, who joined the company in 2008 after working for Hubbell Realty Co. and R&R Realty Group, would be the best candidate to take Wright’s position as a managing director.
Minear and Wright made the decision, then they told Dutcher about his new “opportunity.”
“We told him on a Thursday,” Minear said. “Dan wanted the weekend to think about it. I told Dutcher that if he didn’t make up his mind by Monday, to clear his schedule because I would take the entire day to convince him to take the job.”
Dutcher said his 25 years of experience in marketing and leasing will help him tie together Terrus’ various functions and direct business opportunities he recognizes in other division toward the brokers.
“I think I can integrate all aspects of Terrus,” he said. “I think I can have a bigger-picture perspective.”
In addition, he will be in the office, where he can resolve issues when they occur.
“Anytime you’re managing people, you don’t know how it’s going to go. … A lot of times, it’s the little things that bother people rather than the big things,” Dutcher said.
For Minear, the change provides an opportunity to make the brokerage division a significant element of the company.
Wright said the future is bright.
“Everything has picked up,” he said. “There is momentum and energy in every market we’re in.”
(Corrections, April 24: Terrus Real Estate Group LLC was misidentified in the original story. StartUp City is located on the fifth floor of the Bank of America building. Location was incorrect in original story.)
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