There is a particular story that I am fond of telling when someone asks me to describe Investors Realty (or as we affectionately call ourselves, “IRI”). It is not a story about a successful transaction, winning new business, or delivering outstanding customer service. Instead, it is a story about people, and the kind of people it takes to ensure the long-term success of a small business in Omaha, Nebraska. The story goes like this…
In 2014, we hired a strategic planning facilitator, Duke Kuehn, who was based in Tacoma, Washington. Duke had international experience as a business adviser and, more importantly, had worked with many independent commercial real estate firms like ours all over the country. Before visiting our firm, he spent weeks reviewing company history, interviewing employees, examining marketing material, and surveying customers. Over five months and two visits to Omaha, Duke helped us refine our vision and create a plan for the next three years. We learned a lot from Duke, but it wasn’t until our car ride to the airport that he gave me the description of our company that I would repeat over and over for the next seven years. Out of nowhere he said, “Tim, I’ve been trying to come up with an analogy for IRI and I’ve finally figured it out! IRI is like a ’54 Corvette…really cool, but it’s really hard to find the parts.” He was quick to observe that our people defined our company, and our “drop everything for the customer” approach defined our success. In his many interviews with clients, stakeholders, and employees, the consistent theme was: “these are smart people with energy who always put the customer’s interest first.” At IRI, we call that having “batteries included,” and that is the common ingredient you will find in all of our people.
What Duke meant in 2014 is that our people have special characteristics that are hard to find. He was correct then, and his analogy has added meaning today. Like everyone, IRI has been affected by the changing job market. We have experienced turnover, and we have had difficulty filling open positions. Like Duke said, it has been tough to find the parts because we insist on finding the right parts. But despite the challenges, our people have answered the call and have delivered on our promise to deliver client-focused real estate services. The following are some highlights from 2021 that serve as examples:
- Total sales transactions increased 15% over a 5-year average.
- Total dollar volume from sales increased 70% over a 5-year average.
- Lease transactions and dollar volume were consistent compared to the 5-year average.
- We added a total of 805,003 square feet to our management portfolio.
- We furthered the automation of our A/P and A/R functions to expedite payments, add security, and remove hurdles for our employees.
- We added new people in every department – all with batteries included.
- A handful of people changed roles and are finding new challenges and opportunities within the company.
- We held our second annual company kickball game that allowed everyone to interact, get some fresh air, and exercise a little during the workday. It was excellent culture building and it even fed our inherently competitive nature!
- Most importantly, our team honored an American hero, Corporal Daegan Page, as we joined many others on L Street for a patriotic salute to honor his service and sacrifice.
2021 presented our firm with many opportunities and challenges, all of which we tackled with our focus on the customer. We had a demanding and productive year that would not have been possible without each and every player on our roster. I am grateful for our team and their families, who entrust us with their time and careers.
Last, thank you to our clients. You are the reason we have existed for 46 years and the reason we continue to attract smart people with batteries included. We hope you have enjoyed the ride in our ’54 Corvette as much as we have. I believe that the road ahead of us is long.
We are grateful for your continued partnership.
This article appeared in our company newsletter in December of 2021. Please click here to download the entire newsletter.