Ep. 116 – DLC Management Chief Operating Officer, Chris Ressa

Ep. 116 – DLC Management Chief Operating Officer, Chris Ressa

The commercial real estate industry is hit hard by the pandemic, and surprisingly, it continues to overcome the challenges and struggles caused by the lockdown. To explore the current situation, even more, Cameron Herold sits down with Chris Ressa, Chief Operating Officer of DLC Management Corp. They discuss how he joined DLC, how he deals with growth and scaling, and how the industry is undergoing a disaster-crisis mode to cope with the COVID-19 problem. Chris also talks about the current changes in the investment landscape, today’s advantage of open-air centers over closed shopping malls, his experiences hosting the Retail Retold Podcast and the commercial brands that he looks up to.

Chris Ressa is the Executive Vice President and COO for DLC Management Corp. With his dedication to solving real estate needs for entrepreneurs and national retailers coupled with his ability to thrive under immense pressure, Chris Ressa hasn’t let the challenges impede achieving his goals. He’s persistently earned his way and become an established industry influencer. No wonder he’s been recognized by Chain Store Age by landing on the magazine’s 10 Under 40: Rising Stars of Retail Real Estate list. He joined DLC Management Corp in 2007. During his tenure, his relationships, real estate expertise and leadership have led to numerous successful repositioning of assets.

With a track record of consistently beating budgets and increasing NOI, Chris has placed a significant role in the overall growth of the organization. As Chief Operating Officer, Chris oversees DLC’s $2.5 billion asset portfolio and is responsible for all property-level operations including leasing property management and construction and marketing on all owned and third-party management assets. Chris has a strong presence on social media, including LinkedIn, with his influencer base of over 28,900 followers. Chris’ influence in the digital space expands beyond LinkedIn as he also hosts a highly acclaimed Retail Retold Podcast. Chris, welcome to show.

Thank you for having me.

I’m looking forward to digging into this. Of all of the industries that I know stuff about, this is the one that I know nothing about. I grew up next door to a family in Northern Ontario in Canada that was big in commercial real estate and I was always enamored with them growing up and watching the dad, the kids, and their aunts and uncles. They were all in this big commercial real estate empire. Even since I’ve left that city, watching their growth has always been intriguing to me. How did you get involved in real estate?

I came from a lower and middle-income blue-collar family. I have no ties to real estate or commercial real estate. I played sports growing up and got a wrestling scholarship to Rutgers University in New Jersey and ended up wrestling there. My wrestling career was coming to an end and I had to get into the real world and start working. I was applying for a million jobs. One of the jobs I applied for happened to be a corporate real estate job at the Sherwin-Williams, a company that owns paint stores. It’s a Fortune 500 company. The job was about training someone to do real estate and how they did real estate. I was working in their retail stores. They’re in industrial locations and district offices.

I got a good lens of all facets of commercial real estate at a young age. A lot of young professionals don’t get into commercial real estate through the corporate real estate world. The biggest way that people get into commercial real estate is probably a third party which I’ve never been in which is brokerage where they represent a tenant or landlord. I’ve only been the tenant or the landlord. I’ve never been the third party or they get into some other facet. They get into the lending world or some big institutions like pension funds or the insurance world. Rarely do you get in through the corporate real estate world.

Usually, they are picking people from other facets and bringing them in versus growing. It’s a unique opportunity. What I realized was I loved commercial real estate and the people who grew in that organization and made the most money were real simple. They sold the most paint or you were the manager of the store and your store did well and you became a district manager and you grew. Real estate was a function of their business. It wasn’t their business. I realized I wanted to get on the commercial real estate side and then I started working for a commercial real estate owner. I’m learning the development business and how landlords look at things. Since then, I’ve been working for a landlord.

I’m probably the only person on the planet who’s been in as many Sherwin-Williams stores as you have been or close to. I was a part of a group called College Pro Painters and I was on the senior leadership team. I opened the West Coast of the United States for College Pro and ran half of Ontario for them. This was way back when. Sherwin-Williams was a massive partner of ours. They were a great organization. There was a guy that we knew but he was out of Canada. You wouldn’t have known that guy.

I knew a guy in Vancouver named Jack Singh. He was in the DM of Vancouver because I got all the territories that my former boss didn’t want to run, so I had Canada.

Vancouver was a great market. I split my time between Vancouver and Scottsdale, Arizona. I go back and forth in both. How did you get involved in DLC?

I went from Sherwin-Williams to a New York City developer called Ashkenazy Acquisition. I was there for a short time, and then I went to the leasing department at DLC. DLC is vertically integrated. They don’t third-party anything. We own it, operate it and run it. We try to use the platform to increase the value of the assets that we purchase or develop. There’s a lot of groups like big institutions, banks, investment arms, pension funds and things like that, that buy real estate as an investment. They’re a little more passive and they third party everything. We don’t do that. We buy it, own it, build it, lease it, and do all the property management. We have investors and in some of those investors, we leverage our platform as the vehicle to increase value in one of the larger privately-owned fully-integrated owners and operators in the country.

What was the size of the company when you joined them? How many employees?

I would say probably in the 70s to 80s.

It was a real business though at that point?

Totally. What’s grown is our asset value. We’ve been recycling capital over time. Since then, our asset value has probably grown by 30% or 40%. That’s what’s been the big growth since I joined. We’re still entrepreneurial by nature, even though we’re trying to get to what I would call enterprise scale, which is one of our goals. Either family and friends or our own money internally, and then we grew and we started partnering with large institutions to a point wherein 2016, we bought a $400 million portfolio. We took this family-run business and we’re still family-run. We scaled it and grew the asset base and protective of margin along the way.

You have grown a huge economic upturn and boom and now we’ve hit this crazy brick wall with the economy where they announced 25.5 million are unemployed in the US already and we’re getting started. I had a client in Colombia. I’m coaching the CEO and he’s got 800 employees. They said all 800 employees were in one office and building. They never would have allowed anybody to work from home. A week later, 700 people were working from home and two weeks later, all 800 people were working from home. Now they’re wondering whether they need to ever go back to a location-based business.

Being in commercial real estate, I’ll comment on that. I don’t own office buildings, but if I did, I’d be concerned. We had to do the same. We’re all working from home, but 60 of my 120 people didn’t have laptops and desktops. Most people didn’t travel. How are we getting these people up and running? That was a huge process to be able to work remotely. Now that we’re doing it, we’re being productive and efficient. Department heads running Zoom calls with their departments every day. We’re connecting.

I listened to Kevin O’Leary talk about he’s never going back to offices. He’s going to stay remote and he’s going to save 11%. At DLC, there are certain things. We own assets all over the country where there are certain roles that we could have remote work previously. We were one of probably the most hesitant to do that and we didn’t do that. We’ve been focused on culture for more than 70 years. Culture is everything for us. Nike has Just Do It. Ours is #Success. I don’t know necessarily to quantify it, but we feel that the human connection and team dynamics probably outweigh that 11% that Kevin O’Leary is talking about.

Maybe I’m biased because I own real estate. I want people to use real estate and not work from home. I recognize I could be biased in that sense. However, I do feel I’m eating crow and I’m eating my own stuff, where our position is we’re going to go back to the office when it’s safe to do so because we feel that the human connection and team dynamics cannot be replaced digitally. Special things happen when you do that and potentially have monetization as well.

Do you see anything changing in the investment landscape in the commercial real estate sector?

First off, there’s no doubt in any recessionary time, values get depressed so you’re going to have that opportunity to buy. You’re going to have to be in a place where you think there’s going to be users because you’re making money on the rent. Where is the tenant demand for if you’re an office owner? If that guy’s going to work remotely, who are you going to fill that with?

The wealthy investors always have money they want to invest, too, so you’re probably still in a good position.

In the shopping centers, what stores are going to want to grow? That’s certainly a concern. The fabric of commercial real estate is interesting. You have this, should tenants pay rent? The lease is clear. Everyone realizes that even during this time, the lease obligates tenants to pay rent. With that said, a lot of landlords both in office and in retail and other commercial sectors, there are tenants that haven’t paid rent and that’s our revenue. We’re working deals for them. When you have the local mom and pops, whether it’s a local small accounting office in an office building or a small pizza guy, landlords are working with them.

SIC 116 | Commercial Real Estate
Commercial Real Estate: Real estate is extremely capital intensive, and so rents have to be high enough to make it worthwhile to spend money on that.

 

We have these multinational companies and there are some out there that have taken the position that they’re going to fight landlords on their obligation to pay rent in major international, multinational investment-grade companies. I keep saying, if you have a place where there’s a time when things get bad, where one of those companies is going to take the position, “I’m not going to pay?” What does that do for the value? The value is based on the credit-worthiness of those tenants. If they’re not paying, then their credit-worthiness isn’t there. There’s going to be built-in risk mitigation into prices based on this because a lot of those deals are not the most lucrative deals. You do those deals because when the world goes nuclear, there are investment grades and they pay the rent.

What do you think is going to happen to the shopping malls? I’ve got some ideas on some of it.

I would caveat. It’s not a broad stroke.

It depends on where they are, too, right?

Yeah. Enclosed malls are different. We own open-air centers and strip centers. There are certainly going to be enclosed malls that don’t reopen. That I hope is an opportunity for me because I operate open-air centers in markets that are still open because I have essential retailers like Walmart, Target, Sam’s Club, and Costco are my tenants. There’ll be some healthy retailers in those malls that are going to need a home and maybe there’ll be my future tenants and that would be opportunistic for me. The enclosed malls are going to be challenged right there. They’re too big already.

The ones in good markets like Scottsdale and Vancouver are going to be fine. It’s probably the tertiary markets, where they were overbuilt and the sales weren’t there pre-COVID. It’s going to be interesting. The open-air centers are better positioned and more essential retailer-based. They probably weren’t overbuilt to the sense of the enclosed mall world. Places where Sherwin-Williams is, a tenant I used to work for, are going to be fine in the long run.

Those are also easier ones to fill, too, where each individual unit can be placed into something. I was at Rackspace’s head office down near San Antonio and it was intriguing. It was an old shopping mall and Rackspace is a massive company that came in and took the entire shopping mall as their head office. They kept the escalators and the food court. It’s cool. We’ll see some of those kinds of things being repurposed, where Amazon comes in and takes over an entire shop as their corporate office space.

That’s totally happened. The only thing I would say about real estate is that it is extremely capital intensive. Those are real CapEx infrastructure costs to do that. The only way to do the Amazon ridiculously multi-million dollar deal is the return that the landlord gets on that is through rent. The rent has to be high enough that it makes it worthwhile to spend the money to do that.

The people that are owning commercial real estate might take a bath or be selling out of that. The space that you’re in is going to continue to do quite well. I’m curious what ends up happening to them.

Me, too. It’s going to be interesting.

Tell me about your podcast. What was it that got you started doing that?

In my world, marketing is business-to-business. My customers are Starbucks, Target and the local pizza guy. From a marketing perspective, there’s been this thing in commercial real estate that the property sells themselves and there’s property-level marketing, but you don’t see Super Bowl commercials with commercial real estate companies. There are Fortune 1000 companies that own commercial real estate. From corporate branding and marketing, there hasn’t been a lot done in my space. There’s whitespace to be done there to get your name out there.

We’ve increased our digital presence and we thought another avenue would be podcast. The premise of the show is the story of how that story ended up in your neighborhood. Someone might say, “They put Starbucks over here,” and I say, “We bring you they and how it happened.” That might be someone from the corporate real estate function at Starbucks. That might be someone who was involved in the environment. It might be a city official who was involved in approving it. It might be the landlord. We bring in different people to talk about different perspectives on how that story ended up in your neighborhood.

My mentor was being groomed as the COO at Starbucks. I was down there every quarter and he would come to my office every quarter. We had calls every month for about two years. One of the things I asked Greg in the early days was how do they pick their locations? I didn’t realize it but if you think about what he said, it seems to be true. In the first twenty years of them building locations, almost every single Starbucks store was on the right-hand side of the road as you drove towards downtown. They were all on the side of the road that you would be driving to work to be able to stop the car, get out of the car, and grab a coffee. You never had to cross the street to go get your coffee on the way to work. Home from work, they were always on the inconvenient side of the street, but you weren’t stopping to get coffee at 5:30.

They’re much focused on the going to work side.

That was brilliant, and then the second thing is I said, “Why doesn’t Starbucks advertise?” He said, “We do but you don’t recognize it as advertising. We open more stores to brand all the other stores. We just don’t spend money on marketing advertising. We know that every retail location supports every retail location.” I’m like, “You got this thing dialed.” What brands are doing interesting things in the real estate space?

From a brand perspective, they’re not a tenant of mine but I’m always fascinated. Nike is doing interesting things. They built that huge store in Manhattan where they’ve got all this technology in the store. There’s no one who goes behind the wall to grab shoes. They give you a code, go to a locker, set it up beforehand and your shoes are waiting to try on and you can run around the track. They got this experience. Nike is doing a cool job of forward-thinking the store of the future. In my space, Walmart is fascinating to me because what a lot of people don’t appreciate is the local mom and pop to do something innovative in a store is easier but challenging from a capital perspective.

To make a move and do something with 4,000 stores and do it in twelve months, hundreds of thousands of employees have to be on the same page to get this right. They’ve done an amazing job with this Buy Online Pick Up In-Store, which has been fascinating for them because the shopping center industry has shown that when someone does BOPIS, 85% of those customers buy an additional product in the store that they wouldn’t have otherwise purchased. The value of those products is typically more than what they purchased online.

It’s almost like a gift card. When you buy the $100 gift card while you’re in the restaurant, you end up spending $130.

Target’s done a great job. People thought they were crazy. They were going to spend billions on renovating all their stores. They did it and now they’re printing it and they’ve killed it. Those are two tenants of mine. Nike’s not a tenant of mine, but what they did was so innovative and it’s a brand that I enjoy.

Is Simon Malls still a big company in the retail mall space?

Yeah. They’re the leader in the enclosed mall space, no doubt. They’ve done some innovative things. They purchased one of the top high-end mall companies, Taubman. They also have been buying distressed retailers who are tenants in their properties. They bought Forever 21. That’s an alternate revenue stream. Now they have sales for Forever 21 and they’ve protected their rental stream because they were filing bankruptcy. They protected that, but they also have this new income stream of owning the retailer.

They’re vertically integrated malls. They were a client of mine. When we were building 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, we wanted some corporate clients and we went after Simon Malls to do all the junk removal from all their store cleanouts when we’re flipping over. We did a lot of work for them and for public storage and then waste management as well. Tell me about the people coming into your industry. Why do you think people want to join the commercial industry? What do you look for when you’re bringing people into your company?

SIC 116 | Commercial Real Estate
Commercial Real Estate: To make a move and do something with 4,000 stores, hundreds of thousands of employees have to be on the same page to get everything right.

 

It’s a great topic. Commercial real estate doesn’t do a great job of marketing the universities. There’s not a lot of people unless they have family ties that want to get into that. Even more so with my clients in the retail side. There’s not a lot of college kids who are dying to be in the store management training program. They might know about being a store manager at Walmart, but they don’t want to do that per se. Walmart’s an exception. They have 250 employees that you’re running and it’s potentially a $100 million business when you’re running one store. It’s a well-compensated job for that.

People ask the biggest risk to the industry, whether it’s pandemic or online retail. The biggest risk to commercial real estate and retail real estate, in particular, is human capital. How do we fight to bring in the brightest and the most talented into our industry? When you’re fighting with tech and everyone wants to work for a tech company and all these things, it’s a real challenge, especially those that are branded a lot better to universities than us.

When we bring in people, we have a strong Millennial cohort. We focus on the intangibles. I made a post on LinkedIn that was a call to action to parents. One of the questions I ask college graduates is, “What’s the biggest pressure moment you’ve been involved in that has nothing to do with school, sports, or extracurricular activities?” I want to see how they operate in uncontrolled environments where there are no rules and how they handle those scenarios.

Where they don’t have mom and dad solving it for them.

We focus on the intangibles. What’s the biggest adversity you’ve ever faced? I don’t want to be the first sign of adversity. I want you to be able to have a framework in which you can handle challenges. I bet those college graduates who graduated and entered the workforce in 2020 and now working in a company that had adversity and were in pressure-filled scenarios. They are able to navigate these waters to the best of their abilities, whereas others are paralyzed. Those are some things. What do you like in a team? Are you prepared to sacrifice yourself for the greater good of the team?

I’ve been calling it the core behavioral traits. You’re looking for what makes these people tick. They may not have skills because they haven’t worked in roles yet but the core DNA that they have has been there since they were kids.

I’m less concerned about skills because they’re all learnable and monetized. I’m more like, “Do you have the ability to connect with people?” I don’t care what role you’re in. If you don’t have the ability to connect with others, it’s going to be a challenge. We talk about communication skills. The first question I asked most college graduates is, “Tell me about you that has nothing to do with work or school.” A lot of kids struggle, and then they’ll say, “I like to do this,” and then I’ll go, “I don’t want to know what you like to do. I got it. Those are your interests. Tell me about you.” If you can’t communicate who you are to somebody, that speaks volumes about your communication skills. I would challenge any college graduates out there to be able to work on their communication skills and have the ability to connect with somebody.

It’s also their own introspection. Their ability to even examine themselves.

It’s self- awareness for sure. The kid who can say, “Here’s what wakes me up in the morning. These are the things that I value. These are the things I’m excited about going into the workforce,” that’s an exciting answer to me. That they like to hang out with their friends and family on the weekends is not.

The role that you’re in and thinking about some of your investors, do you deal with the stress level of some of the investors at all? Do you have that same level that a retail broker might have where there’s a market correction and their investors are freaking out or worried?

We’re in it together. We’re not just managing money. Our money’s in there. That’s the difference. When we say we buy something, we’re buying something. We’re putting our money in it and we might be in a JV partnership with somebody else. I have a team that manages the investment. We have our chief investment officer, myself and we have half the organization flowing up to us generally. We have our legal team and our chief administrative officer that has a piece.

I have all the people who are operationally focused on our end, which is the people who are dealing with the tenants and making the deals. The salesforce reports up to me. Our construction team is also dealing with the tenants, the Sherwin-Williams construction manager. I have a property management team and they’re interfacing with the tenants. They’re managing the properties. I have a marketing team. They’re working with our clients as well.

What they want from me first and foremost is they’re looking for visibility of how their customers are and what our customers are thinking about right now and what’s going on because they’re not touching the customers. Whereas all my groups are talking to Starbucks, Target, Walmart and the pizza guys on a daily basis. The numbers are easy. They’re not talking to me about the numbers too much. They want the context in the story of what’s going on. What’s Starbucks thinking these days? How is Starbucks operating? That’s what they’re looking for from us.

How about you and your growth? Where are you growing over the years? Where have you had to scale?

The biggest thing for me is, in general, I was a good tactician. Give me a task. “Go sell this. Go do this.” I remember we had a property in Jacksonville, Florida. I said, “This is a tough one.” I’m finding tenants. I went down there for three weeks, working on weekends. I’m not coming home until I have signed leases. I’m tactically good. I got into managing people and that was a skill of mine. I have the ability to connect with people. I had a lot of good coaches growing up in sports. My mother left when I was two and it was just me and my dad for a while until he got remarried. I had good parenting and I had good coaching management.

I always was fascinated by leadership and read a ton on leadership and management. What started on my end, which was the piece that I needed to work on was being a lot more strategic versus tactical. I grew up in this like, “Give me a task. I can do anything.” When you have to pull one lever and knock down 30 pins, that’s a different mindset and different thinking. That’s been the thing that I’ve been focused on the most is how do you make strategic decisions and business strategies and implement them when you’re not the tactician?

I have 60 plus people that in some way, shape, or form come up to me. When you’re managing a team of 5 or 6 people, you’re much more tactically involved. When you’re talking about the big picture company strategy and trying to take this company to enterprise-scale, that’s different thinking and mindset in operating than being so tactical. When you talk about my growth and where I’m focused, it’s probably what I’m focused on most.

I got to go back to something you said, which rocked me. It was on the personal side. You had a different story than everybody else. For everybody else, it was the dad that left. Did you have brothers and sisters?

It was just me and my dad until I was nine. My dad got remarried. They had two kids from that, so I have two brothers. Before that, it was me and my dad in a one-bedroom apartment. He slept on the couch and I slept in the bedroom.

Do you remember those lessons growing up?

Vividly because it was raw and real. My dad took parenting beyond serious. He put a lot of pressure on me and I thrived under that versus the kid who might have broke. I was like, “If you want me to get all As, I’m going to get all A pluses.” AB plus was a big problem in my household up until college. Even in 2nd and 3rd grade, when it was just me and my dad, it was a big problem. Not being the best in sports like losing a wrestling match, that was going to be a bad night for me.

You and your dad are close?

Very.

SIC 116 | Commercial Real Estate
Commercial Real Estate: Even when you’re managing a small team, you’re much more tactically involved than when you’re talking about the big picture of a company strategy.

 

Say hi to your dad. Tell him that I’m a dad and a massive kudos for him to do what he would have had to have done at that age, to give you a good life and to suck it up. It’s tough. I’ve been divorced and done the single parent thing at times. It’s a totally different scenario, but to do it with a two-year-old, good for him and good for you. I spent a day inside a maximum-security prison. Twenty CEOs went and spent time with 60 prisoners.

One of the guys who is my age that went into prison at eighteen hasn’t seen a blade of grass, a flower, or a tree in 34 years and he’s getting out. We were talking about being a dad and I said, “I’ve been hard on my kids at times.” He goes, “The world is way harder on your kids than you will have ever been. Anything you’ve done has set them up for success.” That was a powerful lesson. You and your partners, how do you work together? What do you have as meeting rhythms and how do you connect and stay connected with them?

Our executive management team would meet pre-COVID every two weeks. It’s strategic. We talk about 1 of 2 things, business strategy or company culture. Company culture is about the people, the teams and what’s going on. Now, we’re meeting from 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM daily on Zoom. The operations of our business have been compromised and we’re trying to navigate those waters. How do you operate a partially open shopping center? Do you need access to more security to prevent looting or lighting? Our revenue stream comes from the leasing space. How do we make new deals in the sales process during this time period? All those things. What are we doing? I got construction projects in certain states where they’re coming open and we never were shut down and in New York where we were shut down. We’re talking about all these things on a daily basis. Our rhythm is daily.

Have you shifted focus from disaster crisis to, “Let’s drive it and grow forward now? We know it’s an issue, but we’re going forward.”

Yes, totally. We were in crisis pandemic mode.

Your office is New York, too, right?

Yeah. We’re shut down.

It’s in the epicenter of it all, too.

Depending on what you think of what is crisis mode.

We’re always talking about the COVID-19 versus, “We get it, but we got a business to run, too.”

The last two weeks of March to the first week of April of 2020, it was only that. We had a lot of tactical things that happened. We created new strategies in minutes to try to handle what was coming to us. We have a lot of things going on in operating in a COVID-19 world that is dealing with the crisis. Probably half the calls each week are dealing with COVID-19 things and then half the things are growth and business.

That’s the shift that I’m seeing with most companies. It’s interesting we’ve got a COO Alliance event and the theme is sales marketing and PR. It is to shift all of our members’ focus into, “We get it. We’re dealing with it, but we still have companies to run, grow and build. How do you do that and communicate that way when some people might still be a little freaked out?” There’s nothing wrong with selling.

We’ve been focused on our sales team to not stop through all this and we try to take away any responsibility with COVID-19 things from them and focus on new business. For us, one of the opportunities for us, the sales team, is we’re trying to say, “We’re looking for the entrepreneur or the company that can look past this.” There are going to be buyers that can’t get past this. What we’re doing is we’re trying to say that in the contract, nothing starts until after. We want to lock in the deal, but you can’t open a store right now. How do we sign a deal now and get committed on a ten-year lease, but it’s not going to start until 2021? That’s what we’re focused on from that end.

We’ve been doing a lot of different marketing. PR will be interesting to see what the Alliance says because we’ve talked to some of our partners who are major corporations. I talked to one where we signed the lease during this time and it’s a big national company. They do not want to put out a press release because they’re like, “One, we don’t want to be tone-deaf to what’s going on, but two, whether it’s paid or non-paid PR, it’s wasted time and productivity. It’s going to get lost in everything that’s going on with COVID-19.” How do you get real airtime on something?

We’re there now that it’s okay to start going into the positive press because the media is tired of the old stories now. People are starving for Oprah-feel good stories. We know that hospitals can manage it. We know that we have gotten enough ventilators. We know that people are dying and have died. We know that we’re going to be reopening. The “if it bleeds, it leads” story for a while is the story, and then all of a sudden it gets tired. We need to have the story of the bodies being recovered and hope. We need to find the kid who survived it.

I don’t disagree, but what I would challenge you on is maybe the consumer wants that. I don’t know if the media is ready.

The media is. It’s like the hero’s journey. The media is starting to turn. They’ll still go after all the old stuff and they’ll find new old stuff, but there is enough of the other. This isn’t about getting PR now. This is about understanding PR for the next couple of years, too. It’s understanding how to build stuff and leverage it. I’ve got a client that I’m coaching who is preparing to sell his company. He’s in a strong position. His growth is growing like crazy.

We’re going to leverage PR as a way to increase his brand value so that the buyers are going, “You’re everywhere. Look at all this press you’re getting.” We’re wrapping them up in a Tiffany box in a white ribbon. We’re strategically using PR. There are other people that use PR as a way to attract employees. You get press about your company that talks about how great you are as an organization, how you’re taking care of people, and how you’re taking care of customers.

That’s what we’ve done.

It becomes third party credibility to build your brand, and then you take that to university campuses to recruit with. Last question, if you were to go back to the 22-year-old Chris Ressa who’s finishing college university, getting ready to start out in his career, what word of advice would you give yourself back then that you know to be true now, but you didn’t know at 22?

Take bigger risks. In both career and personally, I would have taken a lot more shots throughout my old twenties. I came from a blue-collar place where the procedures jobs were teachers, police officers and firemen. It’s safe and conservative. I would have taken a lot more shots and I would have taken a lot more risks because failing at 22 is different than when you’re failing at 45 and you have three kids, a house, a mortgage and all that.

That was the best word of advice that I was lucky enough to listen to my dad when I was young. I was twenty years old and I was looking at a 67-page franchise agreement with College Pro Painters. My dad said, “There’s no better time in your life to go bankrupt. Give it a try. Do everything they tell you in the manual and see if you make it work.” I was like, “I don’t have any money anyway. If I go bankrupt, I have nothing.” I got lucky with that because most kids wouldn’t listen. Chris Ressa, thank you for sharing with us on the show. I appreciate the time.

Thank you.

It was awesome. I appreciate it.

Thanks.

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About Chris Ressa

SIC 116 | Commercial Real EstateWith his dedication to solving real estate needs for entrepreneurs and national retailers coupled with his ability to thrive under immense pressure, Chris Ressa hasn’t let the challenges impede achieving his goals. He has persistently earned his way and has become an established industry influencer. No wonder he has been recognized by Chain Store Age by landing on the magazine’s 10 Under 40: Rising Stars of Retail Real Estate list.

Chris joined DLC Management Corp. in 2007. During this tenure, his relationships, real estate expertise, and leadership have led to numerous successful repositioning of assets. With a track record of consistently beating budgets and increasing NOI, Chris has played a significant role in the overall growth of the organization. Now as Chief Operating Officer, Chris oversees DLC’s $2.5 billion asset portfolio and is responsible for all property-level operations including leasing, property management, construction and marketing on all owned and third-party managed assets.

Chris has a strong presence on social media, including LinkedIn with his influence base of over 28,900 followers. Chris’s influence in the digital space expands beyond LinkedIn as he also hosts the highly acclaimed Retail Retold podcast.

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