Forest Lake, Minn. – based brokerage and commercial property management
business Gaughan Companies has succeeded through 41 years. The company is now
making a big move, joining CORFAC International. The newly renamed Gaughan
Companies/CORFAC International, has a bright future as it brings property
management, brokerage, construction and development services to its clients,
both in and out of the Twin Cities area.
Minnesota Real Estate Journal recently spoke with Patrick Gaughan,
president of the company, about the reasons why his firm is growing when so many
others today are struggling.
Minnesota Real Estate Journal: Let’s start with the latest
news: Why did you decide to form a relationship with CORFAC International?
Patrick Gaughan: Some of our agents were doing work
outside the Twin Cities area. Lou Suski (vice president of sales and leasing
with Gaughan Companies) was representing a tenant with offices in Chicago,
Milwaukee and Atlanta. We were working with some other real estate firms to
assist in that. CORFAC is useful for such relationships. If we want
relationships that are more global, and we want to meet the needs of our clients
who do business on a more global basis, this is an important step to take.
MREJ: What steps have you taken to grow your business
through these bad times? So many companies we speak with are shrinking today
because of the still-challenging economy, but you seem to be growing.
Gaughan: We contemplate that all the time. There are a
couple of reasons. One is the relationships. Sometimes, it’s the commitment of
the team, the people who work in our organization, the brokers. They take their
jobs very seriously. They are there early. They are always focusing on their
clients’ needs. The combination of forming these relationships and focusing on
the hard work seems to be where the success is coming from. When the economy
changed, when it went downhill, it separated the people in this business who are
serious and those who aren’t.
MREJ: Can you tell me about your company, its history and
Gaughan: We have been growing it. We just signed up a new
property management account two weeks ago. Someone else had it. We bid on it and
received it. MREJ: Why were you able to get this account? Gaughan: It was about
the relationship. They had us do some brokerage work for them and they liked
what we did. The other account wasn’t performing well for them. On the brokerage
side we are not big like CBRE, but what we can do is really focus on the client
and customer and get to know them personally. We brought some nice results for
them, and they were very happy. That’s how it started.
MREJ: How long have you been in the real estate
Gaughan: The one thing about a family business is that you
work with it from a very young age. I’ve worked in this business from the time I
was 10 or 11 years old. Then when I got out of college, I went to work for my
father. He passed on when I was in my mid-20s. I’ve been in business ever since.
I took over running the business. He wanted me to own the company. I was the
right person for it. We were talking about it prior to his passing.
MREJ: How important was it to you to keep the family
Gaughan: You need someone in the family who has the
aptitude for whatever the business is. It comes natural to me, and I really
enjoy it. It also gives me the ability to have a sustainable business. I take
that very seriously, especially for the people who work for the company. I
passed on a lot of dramatic expansion opportunities because I didn’t want to
take on a lot of debt. A lot of companies now are troubled by the high levels of
debt that they have. The word on the street is that the businesses don’t have
the ability to support their brokers the way they used to. I’m talking about the
smaller brokers around. We don’t have that problem.
MREJ: What do you enjoy most about working in commercial
Gaughan: The relationships with people. You have to be
able to understand the numbers related to real estate, too, of course. You need
to be able to understand it as a business model, understand the numbers behind
it. On the broker side, it’s about the people and really just working with our
brokers, understanding them as a whole and what their needs are, what their
goals are. If you can help your brokers reach their goals, then they can do the
work they need to do to make sure the clients are happy. That makes for
prosperity and usefulness.
MREJ: What are some of the most difficult challenges of
succeeding in this field?
Gaughan: In a down economy, it’s being resourceful and
working hard, being proactive. Business doesn’t just come to you as it did in a
good economy. You can’t just reach out and grab it.
MREJ: You’re planning to open another office in
Gaughan: We are planning on another location in
Minneapolis. We’re hoping to open that office in the spring of summer of 2011
here to meet some of the needs for the brokerage side and management side. I
told Lou, “Find us an office.” He is working through the process of gathering