Commercial property management is not always at top of mind when we think of tenant-landlord relationships. But it’s a huge part of maintaining small businesses and our economy in the Asheville area. We spoke with Wes Reinhardt for all the insider information.
Wes is president and co-founder of Altamus, a local full-service property management firm specializing in commercial real estate, and has been a part of the commercial real estate community in Asheville since 2004. After working on Wall Street in New York City, he decided to change careers and locations for quality of life. The commute, the burnout…it was all too much. He and his wife decided to move to her hometown, Asheville. They took a leap of faith, bought a home sight unseen, and made the move.
After moving, Wes enrolled in real estate school right away and began work with John Spake, who offered him an opportunity. He sold commercial real estate for almost nine years with a brief stint as a broker.
Then he teamed up with former colleagues and discussed commercial property management in Asheville. Where was there a gap? They saw the need for commercial property management and started Altamus Property Management. Wes’ company works in collaboration with Dewey Property Advisors — Dewey handles the sales and brokerage, and they provide management. Wes even works for Dewey at times, keeping his sales skills honed.
Property management is a new challenge every day, which Wes loves. He is fortunate to have an amazing team, and that’s the true key to their success.
Lessons from the past: Look to the future!
But he didn’t always envision a life working with tenants and solving problems due to extreme weather. Think of the movie Trading Places — Wes spent ten years as a commodities future pit trader, like the main characters. He saw a technological shift coming, and in 2000 he made a bold move to Bloomberg in 2000. Then four years later, he decided to pivot even further, and headed south.
Those years helped shape his business strength and ability to adapt. Wes knows that taking risks can pay off if you do so with hope for the future. Keep looking forward and don’t focus on what has already passed. As a stock market trader, change was not a bad thing, but a way of life. Instead of questioning and resisting, he went with the flow and was always excited to see what’s new.
He’s also seen Asheville change drastically since his wedding in Asheville 28 years ago. The hospitality and tourism has grown tremendously, as did the multifamily apartment sector. Although COVID has thrown a wrench into tourism, it’s a net positive according to Wes. Asheville is on the national radar as a great place to live and visit.
Restaurants and retail, even for the independent “mom and pop” owners Altamus serves, are still solid business sectors. We do have to be good environmental stewards and ensure growth is good for the area and sustainable, however.
Commercial real estate management during COVID-19
“Like running a marathon in quicksand”
Altamus has over 500 tenants, most of which are small businesses. The landlords they work with have been incredibly empathetic and forgiving, offering different solutions and being creative to support and see their tenants through the pandemic. Altamus represents many artists, who make up much of the culture and business in Asheville, and they have definitely been struggling. Unfortunately, not every business has been able to pivot their business model, and some won’t make it.
Wes says it’s been a lot of work on the management side, with piles of extra paperwork when rental agreements change. It’s crucial to keep actively communicating with tenants and management, coming up with solutions to help everyone succeed.
Pandemic or not, Wes balances the tenant relationship and the property owner relationship every day. Ultimately, he works for the landlords. However, they communicate directly with tenants on a day-to-day basis. He and his employees serve as advocates for tenants at times, and are happy to do so. Sometimes it’s a matter of clarifying lease details or technicalities and offering referrals and local resources.
Property management is not rocket science, Wes tells his team. Be upfront and honest, focus, and communicate well.
Supporting Asheville area growth, responsibly
Recently, we learned that Pratt & Whitney is building a manufacturing facility here with over 800 new jobs paying above median rates. Wes believes it’s a game-changer to have a Fortune 500 aerospace company offering opportunities to locals. This is good news for the future, and we may see a lot more if we cultivate it.
Despite the resistance to a change of culture, Wes thinks a multifaceted economy of jobs will lock down Asheville’s long-term success in the future. Yes, we have to behave consciously and pay a living wage. We also need to have housing options to bring down costs. But residents move here because they want to be here. It’s a lifestyle ambition and satisfies more than career goals.
Altamus is growing. They manage great properties including the Grove Arcade, and diversify with industrial, River Arts District, and downtown buildings. We will continue to see issues from the pandemic, but Wes remains bullish. He’ll continue building relationships with property owners, and working with out-of-town developers if need be. People love the Asheville story and want to invest in a tertiary market like ours will continue.
That way, Asheville will keep growing in a caring and conscious way that elevates the community and not just profits. They’re growing humbly and looking to help the next business operator succeed. Find Wes’ company at www.altamus.com and email him at email@example.com.