By Gregg Cohen, CEO
Greetings to our wonderful Clients, Friends, Family & Staff! Leading a company like ours has been an amazing ride that has had its share of successes and challenges. To be quite honest, when we started this company our vision for what we would accomplish was much different than the organization we have built today. The long-term vision at that time was really just about putting one foot in front of the other. A three year plan? Try a three week plan.
For many of those early years we were focused on surviving and building a foundation for greatness and didn’t spend much time crystallizing a vision that could guide our future decisions. As time went on and we were able to surround ourselves with more talent, we made the effort to discuss, refine, challenge, and create a well-formed vision that could serve as the jumping point for all future actions.
So, let me take a few minutes to paint the picture for where JWB will be going in the coming years. There are 2 basic principles that guide JWB’s long-term vision:
1. We envision JWB as an ENDURING company here in Jacksonville, FL. By ENDURING, we mean a company that is built to last 20 or 30 more years.
2. We are going to build this company the JWB WAY.
So how do we become an enduring company? We must build JWB so that can thrive in any market. As we’ve seen in our first 8+ years in business, the real estate market can provide opportunities to succeed in both up and down markets. Our team is focused on building business units under the JWB Family of Companies which are poised to succeed no matter what is going on outside of our walls.
Some real estate business models thrive when the market goes down. For example, let’s look at the turnkey property sales and property management businesses. The market nose-dived in 2009 and that’s when our company really hit our stride because of the ramp-up of these JWB businesses. Eventually that landed us as the 12th fastest growing real estate company in the US in 2012, according to Inc. magazine, with over $16 million in revenue.
However, there are other business models that are set up to grow tremendously as the market gets hot again. Construction and realty services are again becoming very desirable. When home prices go up, the demand for property renovation and new construction services goes right along with it. And, of course, when the market goes up, many more sellers are looking to cash-in by selling through their trusted realtor.
The way to become an enduring company is for us to have multiple real estate businesses that are self-sustaining and that can be kicked into high-gear depending on market conditions. In our annual business planning sessions, our job will be to analyze the market metrics to see where the real estate market is going and align our company resources across all business units to achieve the best possible outcomes. If we see the market going up, we’ll focus the majority of our new hires in construction, realty and other such businesses and ramp up goals accordingly. If we see the market becoming flat or depreciating, we’ll know to focus on turnkey property sales, property management and similar type business units.
As for the 2nd point, the JWB way is the only way we know how to do things. We believe we have a recipe for success that is almost impossible for our competition to replicate because it starts with our culture, and this is never going to change.
We have some amazingly talented and caring individuals on our team. We’re addicted to bringing on more and more A-players. We have found that life is just more fun when you are surrounded by the right people and our team and our clients enjoy the benefits of this culture we’ve all built together.
However, we can’t just talk a good game about how much our teammates mean to us. We have to show them how much we care on a daily basis. So that’s why we do a lot of things in our office that very few public companies would ever spend money on. We have breakfast and lunch cooked by our in-house chef and provided for all of our teammates daily. We cover gym memberships for our team along with a generous benefits package. We offer an IRA option where our company matches 3%. The entire office takes a half-day once per month to do a social or volunteer activity as a team. We have invested in a top-flight leadership development program which is prepared and taught by world-renowned consultant, Dr. Harold Resnick. We even just sponsored our own company softball team!
We want to surround ourselves with people who believe like we believe. And when we have people who do, we want to treat them like gold. If we do this well, we will be able to accomplish the 2 basic principles of our JWB vision and have a lot of fun along the way.