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|Articles - January 2013|
|Monday, December 10, 2012|
Page 1 of 2
BY LINDA BAKER
"For those of us in the real-estate business, this recession is like drinking humility from a fire hose.” Jordan D. Schnitzer, president of Harsch Investment Properties, a Portland-based real-estate investment firm, is sitting in his cluttered office under the watchful eyes of the Frank Stella print The Great Heidelburgh Tun and an untitled Michele Russo. The topic at hand is prerecession arrogance — “Or was it greed?” asks Schnitzer — in the real-estate industry and how the mighty have fallen since.
A family-owned firm, Harsch oversees 20 million square feet of office, industrial, multifamily and retail space in six West Coast markets. Prior to 2008, the company was doing about $100 million in acquisitions a year. When the market collapsed, that activity stopped cold. Instead, says Schnitzer, the last few years have been all about “surviving, blocking and tackling.”
As the economy shows signs of life, Harsch is starting to go on the offensive, raising rents by pennies per square foot, boosting occupancy in a few markets and even scouting a few acquisitions. Although he’s optimistic about the future — and proud of the company’s performance and reputation — this scion of Oregon’s prominent family of philanthropists and art collectors is not averse to a little self-flagellation. “We kept our business reputation intact, and we’ll get through this downturn a better, smarter, tougher company,” he says, “but looking back, there were a number of decisions I made that I wish I hadn’t. I’ve been very critical of myself.”
Founded by Harold Schnitzer in 1950, Harsch employs 220 people, manages 3,500 tenants and has offices in Sacramento, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Seattle, Portland and San Diego. Schnitzer’s own history with the company dates back to 1965, when he worked as a 14-year-old janitor in the King Tower apartments. Between 1990 and 2008, the company had “a great ride,” going from $230 million in real estate assets to more than $2 billion, says Schnitzer, who became president in 2002. Then came the crash.
“We knew this recession was coming,” muses Schnitzer, whose detailed, sometimes arcane digressions on the evolution of commercial real estate in the U.S. can make him sound more professor than investor.
“We had three corporate retreats where we laid out all these plans, how the recession was going to hit, how we would respond. And you can take all those sessions of paperwork and have a fabulous bonfire. Because it hit totally differently, and that’s the humility.”
Mea culpas notwithstanding, Schnitzer, 61, is quick to delineate company strengths as well as strategies that helped Harsch weather the downturn. In 60 years, Harsch hasn’t had a single default or late payment, he says with pride. To spread the risk, the company has made a point of signing a lot of tenants and pursuing diversity in property type and geographic location. Harsch also has a decentralized management structure comprised of regional managers who can respond quickly to individual market conditions.
Wednesday, August 06, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
Portland startup Green Endeavor strikes gold, inking a partnership with Underwriters Laboratories, an Illinois-based consulting and certification company with offices in 46 countries.
Monday, July 14, 2014
BY VIVIAN MCINERNY | OB BLOGGER
Some people think Amazon’s winking eye logo is starting to look like a hoodwink.
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
The New Yorker recently published a sharply worded critique of “disruptive innovation,” one of the most widely cited theories in the business world today. The article raises questions about the descriptive value of disruption and innovation — whether the terms are mere buzzwords or actually explain today's extraordinarily complex and fast changing business environment.
Update: We caught up with Portland's Thomas Thurston, who shared his data driven take on the disruption controversy.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
BY CLIFF HOCKLEY | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
With the increasing retirements of Baby Boomers, a massive real estate shift has created a significant increase in demand for NNN properties. The result? Increased demand has triggered higher prices and lower yields.
Friday, July 18, 2014
BY JASON NORRIS | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
Back in May, we shared a common Wall Street quote about investing, “Sell in May and go away.” Fast forward to July and the most common question we have been getting from clients is, “When is the market pullback going to occur?”
Monday, July 14, 2014
BY TERRY "STARBUCKER" ST. MARIE
I really didn’t know that much about angel investing, but I did know a lot about the entrepreneurial spirit.
Thursday, July 31, 2014
BY MARY SPILDE | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
Faced with the aftermath of the “great recession,” increasing concern about the environment and dwindling family wage jobs, we have some very important choices to make about our future.
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