When he set out to found a new venture, Alfredo Gutierrez knew he didn’t want to name it after ownership. After all, he pointed out, businesses that do so often end up sounding more like law firms than real estate firms. Instead, he and his team focused on the qualities they wanted their strategic industrial-focused investment firm to carry: superior vision, exact precision, nimble size, incredible speed and soaring ability.
In defining his company, Gutierrez found its inspiration, the sparrowhawk.
“They’re stealth hunters. They’re quick. They take on larger prey,” said Gutierrez, president of SparrowHawk Real Estate Strategists.
He decided to start the firm 10 years ago after gaining more than 25 years in real estate acquisition, operations, investment and management. Gutierrez worked at Arthur Anderson, where clients included local, regional, national and international real estate owners and developers. Another challenge came in his role as director of taxation and controller at Camden Property Trust, which he helped take public in a $245 million IPO. Gutierrez also served as CFO and COO at Pinchal & Company.
“I knew real estate is where I wanted to be,” he said, explaining how he transitioned from working in the multifamily sector to SparrowHawk’s laser focus on industrial. “Underwriting and investment is just so much simpler in the industrial market.”
Now SparrowHawk leans on the attributes of its namesake to find investment opportunities and provide an ROI for its clients and partners. Like a sparrowhawk, the firm may be on the smaller side, but it is engineered to hunt.
“As a real estate merchant investor, we have institutional funds, but we are very much an entrepreneurial firm,” said Gutierrez, adding that because SparrowHawk is free from many institutional restraints, the company can explore leading-edge strategies and offer innovative financing solutions.
Its size allows the firm to react quickly when it spots an opportunity, something that is all too easy with its team’s extraordinary vision. Hawks can see eight times better than humans, allowing the birds to pinpoint a potential target that might not be visible to its competitors. Similarly, the SparrowHawk team knows exactly what it’s looking for: occupied, non-speculative Class A and B buildings that offer an inherent advantage for positive return. That clarity removes distractions, providing incredible focus.
“I purposefully decided that I’m not going to be a ‘Houston expert’ or a ‘Texas expert’ and work in every type of real estate there is,” Gutierrez said. “I decided to be an industrial expert and go where the demand is and where my investors want me to be.”
That created one of the lone differences between the firm and the hawk: territory. While the sparrowhawk typically maintains a small home area, SparrowHawk manages investments in Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Indiana, North Carolina and Texas. Its properties are built by quality developers offering state-of-the-art technology for tenants, who are often Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, investment-grade companies and regional firms.
“Industrial investments, like others in real estate, have to be actively looked after. That is where we excel,” said Gutierrez. “We offer hands-on management and enhancement of our properties, assuring that projected value is met and quite often exceeded.”
SparrowHawk’s reputation also helps it keep vacancy rates low.
“When tenants are moving in, we’ll ask them what attracted them to the building. They often tell us brokers led them there because of our reputation as a responsive landlord,” Gutierrez said. “It’s a brand we created and we back it up.”
As demand for industrial property surged recently, in part due to the e-commerce boom, Gutierrez explained the key to SparrowHawk’s success. In the past three years, he said, institutional investors were becoming more active in the industrial sector, buying entities en masse and scooping up a lot of the most obvious opportunities. His firm was able to use its know-how to fly just below the institutional level, but high enough above the private level, to seek out and land on a number of fruitful investments. Those, Gutierrez said, were typically in the $10 million to $25 million range.
“There weren’t a lot of players in that range and we had the ability to fill our pipeline with one-off buildings,” he said.
The pandemic has had an impact, though. Institutional investors seem to be scaling back, zeroing in on the acquisitions that had been SparrowHawk’s bread and butter.
“You also have more high-net-worth individuals who want to play in industrial now because they’re moving away from retail or office. So they’re pushing up the bottom end as some of these larger portfolios push down the top,” said Gutierrez.
That means the firm’s eye and finesse are more important than ever as it assesses available opportunities.
“Protection of assets is always our number one goal. We want to protect our investors’ money and offer an investment with limited downside,” Gutierrez said. “Once we achieve those objectives, we focus on growing the portfolio and increasing the ROI for our investors.”
For SparrowHawk, it’s all about soaring and reaching new heights in strategic industrial-real-estate investing.
To learn more about SparrowHark’s strategy, experience, portfolio and available opportunities, visit SparrowHawkRE.com.