Andy Sundgaard, a 29-year veteran of the commercial real estate business, recently joined the Minneapolis office of Cassidy Turley as senior vice president of property management. Minnesota Real Estate Journal recently spoke with Sundgaard about his career, the skills necessary to succeed in this business and the importance of property management in this challenging time for commercial real estate companies.
Here is what Sundgaard had to say.
Minnesota Real Estate Journal: How long have you been in the commercial real estate business, and what led you to it? Andy Sundgaard: I’ve been in the business for 29 years. So it’s been a long time. I’ve spent all of that career in property management and leasing. And for the most part, I’ve spent all of it in the Twin Cities. What really got me to this career is that I graduated with a degree in real estate finance. I had always been interested in real estate in college. When I got out of college in 1982, though, the job market was not unlike how it is now. It was a very difficult market. I ended up in property management because it was the first job that was available to me. As it turned out, that worked out well for me. I’ve really enjoyed this career.
MREJ: What do you enjoy about property management and leasing? Sundgaard: There are a couple of things that I really like about this field. For one thing, there is never a dull day. You work on varied tasks every day. You never know what you will encounter during the day. Things happen unexpectedly. You have to react to them. It certainly keeps life interesting. Then there is the vast spectrum of people with which you deal. I always tell people, for example, that your first meeting of the day could be with the president of a large company, while your second meeting of the day could be with a janitor. You cover the whole spectrum, the whole spectrum of society. I like that.
MREJ: What is it about your personality that makes you a good fit for this job? Sundgaard: That’s rather easy. I’ve been told, at least, that I have a likable personality. I am trustworthy. I am able to relate to my customers and maybe gain their confidence. I can associate with them easily and freely. That is essential to this business.
MREJ: On the flip side of all this, what are some of the bigger challenges in this business? Sundgaard: Dealing with the ebb and flow of the market can be a big challenge. You have to be aware where you are in the real estate cycle. You have to rely on different strategies when the market is on the rise versus when the market is in decline. You have to be aware of your environment at all times. You have to know what is going on, and you have to advise customers appropriately. That is a challenge.
MREJ: How has this challenging economy impacted your business? Sundgaard: We are doing a lot of work with troubled assets today. That is where the market has brought us. There are the many different challenges of doing receivership work. Those receiverships bring specific restrictions, ways in which you have to operate. Those are challenging assets in a challenging environment. With the market being down, we are working hard at being as economical and frugal as we can possibly be with any and all costs.
MREJ: How important has property management become to commercial real estate companies today? Sundgaard: The property management business represents recurring income for companies, recurring monthly income. In a market where transaction volume is down, recurring income is important to companies. Property management has become a larger percentage of many companies’ overall organizational revenue. The transactional revenue will come back when the market improves. Generally in a down market, though, the property management revenues help pay the bills.
MREJ: What traits do people need to do well in property management and leases? Sundgaard: First and foremost, you have to be a people person. As I mentioned earlier, you’ll be dealing with a lot of different people. You have to enjoy that. And, to use a little bit of a cliché, you have to be a jack of all trades. You deal with a lot of different things in property management, some finance and accounting, some operations and engineering. You’ll deal with budgeting and construction. You have to be pretty well-rounded in your overall understanding of the business. And you need to enjoy what you do. Certain personalities are not suited for this business. Some people like to work on one thing all day long. That is not what happens in the property management business.