n twenty years of entrepreneurial experience, I’ve discovered one very basic but very crucial business principle: nothing of significance will ever get done without teamwork. Now, of course, that may be a bit of hyperbole – I’m sure certain important business tasks can be achieved through solo efforts. But, when we’re speaking about developing and expanding new businesses or when we are talking about companies working to accomplish large, multi-stage projects, effective and cohesive teamwork is essential. This is a principle that was further reinforced in my mind when I entered the commercial real estate development industry in 2000, and it’s one that I try to engrain in my project team at my Arlington Street Investments firm.
I think it’s fairly clear why teamwork is so crucial in commercial real estate development. Lots of big, multi-stage projects; lots of team members working on various parts of projects with differing responsibilities and roles; lots of projects points where confusion can arise and tasks can get mishandled. Effective communication between each and every team member is, needless to say, essential for any kind of major commercial redevelopment project to stay ahead of timeline and to finish on time and under budget. And with all humility, at Arlington Street Investments, I have the opportunity to work with the some of the best and most talented individuals in the industry, individuals, who also, I’m happy to say, work very effectively as a group. And I’m very happy to have my name, Frank Lonardelli, associated with this talented roster of professionals.
But, like I said, when we are talking about commercial redevelopment, we are talking about large projects that require the input of many individuals from many differing professional backgrounds. If you think about it, it really is amazing. Most property developments require project managers, engineers, architects, interior designers, plumbers, electricians, and the list just goes on. But, the reality is that commercial investment firms, like, for example, Arlington Street Investments, can only have so many individuals on their direct staff. So, most professionals who are essential to making a property development happen must be hired from outside the firm.
This is fine; this is the reality of the real estate development business. But, based on my experience in the industry, a firm’s relationship with outside project partners is just as important as the level and quality of teamwork that’s found within the firm. Consider how important project partners are to the timeline of the project as a whole. What happens if the development project requires a substantial upgrade to the property’s electrical system? Or what happens if the electrical company that is hired fails to deliver? Or in perhaps a worse scenario, what happens if, for some reason, the relationship between the electrical company and the commercial development firm sours? Not only would these scenarios have the very real potential of delaying the project timeline, they can also have the potential for adding to the budget of the project.
In all the property developments that I’ve been a part of, none of them would have been completed without the help of businesses and professionals outside of Arlington Street Investments. This statement may be a truism for those in the industry, but I think it’s a critical fact that commercial real estate development firms should always keep in mind. And in keeping this in mind, I think it’s also very useful for firms to periodically take a step back and evaluate how their relationship is with these outside parties. And more generally, evaluate how their perception and reputation stacks up in the industry as a whole. Is their firm perceived as honest and easy to work with? Or does their reputation have some points of issue? I know I often try to step back and make sure that my firm and my own name, Frank Lonardelli, has a solid reputation within the real estate development industry as a whole. After all, in commercial real estate development, it’s not just about developing or redeveloping the best property asset, it’s also about knowing how you’re going to find and attract the help you’ll need to get that development or redevelopment done.
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Envision what ought to be there. Not what is. Then be courageous enough to create it.