What does the Gene B. Glick Company look for when acquiring a property? Affordable Housing Finance conducted an interview with CEO David O. Barrett, asking him that question and several others. In this article by Donna Kimura, Barrett discusses the company’s history of philanthropy and its plans for the future.
Pop Quiz With David O. Barrett
The head of the Gene B. Glick Co. shares what he looks for when acquiring a property.
By Donna Kimura
David O. Barrett is the chairman, president, and CEO of the Gene B. Glick Co., one of the largest owners and developers of affordable and market-rate housing in the nation.
Founded in 1947 by World War II veteran Eugene Glick who wanted to help other GIs, the Indianapolis-based firm became the largest single-family home builder in Indiana by the early 1960s. It then built its first apartment community in 1962 and soon became a leader in multifamily housing.
Barrett discusses the company’s history of philanthropy and its plans for the future.
Describe the company’s housing portfolio and how it’s evolving.
When I joined the company in 2007, we had just over 17,000 units in 10 states. My goal is to grow carefully and thoughtfully in our existing markets and in new markets that appeal to us. We currently have over 20,000 units in 13 states. Our portfolio is roughly 60% affordable and 40% market-rate. We believe that this type of diversification serves us well in different economic cycles. We have built six new projects in the last few years, including our newest project, Quarry at Keystone Crossing, a Class A luxury project that has leased up very quickly. We do not anticipate much new construction in the next few years. We will continue to focus on opportunistic acquisitions.
What are your goals for the year?
Our goals are threefold: (i) to build upon our corporate culture of being a family-owned business where every employee is an important part of the family; (ii) to continue to develop our tradition of providing our residents the highest level of customer service; and (iii) to serve our communities through philanthropy by having the most robust and meaningful corporate social responsibility program in the industry.
Best recent move by the company:
Developing our new, highly-focused approach to customer service, where we strive to “Enhance Every Experience” with our residents. It’s critically important for us to deliver on this promise.
The company acquired several affordable developments last year and is looking to buy more this year. What are you looking for when you acquire a property?
We look for affordable properties that are currently serving their residents well but need improved management and operations and an infusion of capital for physical improvements and upgrades. Many of our acquisitions are fine properties that simply need a little TLC to preserve them for the foreseeable future. We are very good at delivering these improvements and adding value.
Philanthropy has been a big part of your firm’s history. What has Glick Philanthropies done recently or what is it working on this year?
Glick Philanthropies is continuing its Far Eastside Success Initiative in Indianapolis by taking a strategic and comprehensive approach to providing programs and services at the Carriage House East property and throughout the east side of our city. This fall, the Carriage House East Success Center will open and will provide residents with a broad array of opportunities to increase self-sufficiency. The Glick Family Housing Foundation is also exploring ways to provide housing opportunities to homeless veterans at several of our properties. We want to be a part of the solution to this problem.
How does the philanthropic work intersect with or benefit your business?
We have long believed in the notion of the triple bottom line. We are a for-profit business; however, the notion of philanthropy and corporate social responsibility has been a part of our corporate DNA since our founding in 1947. We believe in contributing our time and resources to make our communities better places to live, and we understand that our mission is much broader than simply turning a profit.
Best advice you’ve received:
Stay balanced in life: Never get too high with the highs or too low with the lows. It is an important lesson in perspective from my old boss who set a great example of how to stay balanced throughout the topsy-turvy business cycles we all experience.
Besides the usual work items, what’s in your office?
In addition to photographs of my family, I have several vintage radios from the 1930s and ‘40s, sports memorabilia from my favorite Indiana teams — the Colts, Pacers, and Hoosiers — and some artwork, including a few unique pieces of pottery from family trips to Maui, one of our favorite places to visit.
If you unexpectedly had the afternoon off, where would we find you?
Our offices are located a very short walk from one of the nicest movie theaters in town. For years, I have said that on a few random afternoons, I would simply leave the office and go catch a movie for a few hours. Unfortunately, in over 10 years, I have yet to make good on this promise. I need to work on this.
What’s next for David O. Barrett?
I’m constantly trying to find ways to advance the goals of the company by promoting our values and culture and finding ways to make us more efficient. We have high standards; we ask a lot of our team members in our corporate office and at our properties. It’s my job to find the best people to advance our goals and to give them the tools to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. We can always be better.