Commercial Real Estate, Capital, Insurance, Leasing & Management

2019 Top 10 Under 40: Andrew Wright

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Andrew Wright, CEO & Managing Partner, has been named to Tampa Magazine's Top 10 Under 40.

Excerpted from Tampa Magazine story.

Hometown: Bexley, Ohio
Alma mater: Miami University

What I do: “Franklin Street is a full-service real estate company. It services the entire life cycle of investors and occupiers and their utilization of real estate. I started it 12 years ago out of an apartment complex with someone that I knew from work. Before that I had worked for a national brokerage shop. I’ve always been entrepreneurial. I had three jobs since I was 13. I used to bag groceries, coach Little League sports and deliver newspapers for five years. I’ve always been a worker. I didn’t really like where I was, primarily around culture. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the business or what I was doing. I thought that we could do something a little bit better and build it around people. We really service two audiences of clients: investors and occupiers of real estate. Investors, from the acquisition, property management, insurance, debt and equity financing, and then the disposition. That’s the life cycle. Occupiers are users of real estate — businesses that need space, we do property management, project management, which is the buildouts, site selection, lease administration, and really all of that. You might be a great restaurateur or a great accountant, but you’re not a real estate person, so you need someone to help you through those aspects of the business.”

Turning point:
“I wouldn’t say there was one property or project specifically. I think where we tested our strategy and found it to be successful was the Great Recession. Our strategy from the very beginning was multiple lines of business — being able to have offensive and defensive type businesses. Our transactional businesses are the brokerage, the debt and equity, leasing, tenant representation. You do a deal and there’s nothing tomorrow. Insurance and property management are recurring revenue businesses. Insurance specifically is not economically correlated, whether it’s a good market or a bad market, people require insurance, particularly here in Florida. That was the original thought process. The downturn really tested that strategy right out of the gate. We not only made it through but thrived in that environment. I think expertise is only showcased when things are difficult. When things are easy, expertise isn’t as valued. It showed the resiliency and it proved out our strategy, and it really differentiated us from our competitors early on.”

Why commercial real estate? “I like the tangibility of it. I probably would be a very good hedge fund trader, but “click, click, click, click, click” isn’t really rewarding. Not only is real estate tangible — you can see it, feel it, touch it and prove it — but it’s a really people-intensive business. We don’t sell products, we’re service-based, so all the different disciplines, whether it be insurance or finance or management, which includes maintenance and construction, accounting, marketing, all those disciplines collide at real estate. Real estate is such a broad term. You build something, and it’s there forever. The building we’re in will be here well after I’m not.”

Charitable & philanthropic effort: “We’re very active philanthropically — children, veterans, disabled, homeless. We’ve been part of Feeding America, the Children’s Home. My wife and I chaired the most successful Karamu event for the zoo in its 30-year history. I’m on the board of the Positive Coaching Alliance and the First Tee, which are both character developing organizations through youth sports. Discipline, hard work, how to get along with people from all different backgrounds, how to lose, how to pick yourself up. You don’t learn those things in math and science. We support pediatric cancer causes — Cut for the Cure. I’ve had my head shaved for that event. We did Fashion Funds the Cure, we’ve done their food drive. We’ve been involved with Junior Achievement. My COO is on the board there. My partner’s involved in BizTown. I’m on the board of my children’s school, volunteered to lead the effort to build an early childhood education building. We feed the homeless at Metropolitan Ministries every year. We try to have at least one philanthropic event per quarter per office. You are the community you create, so be engaged. We’re not just people who have jobs. We’re citizens of the community. United Way, we’ve been involved with. Habitat for Humanity, we’ve built homes. American Heart Association, we just completed over $40,000 in fundraising for them. We were involved with both the Heart Ball and Heart Walk. Just this past weekend, I was part of the executive cabinet supporting Jeff Vinik. Kids’ toy drives, food drives. Academy Prep, we have two members of ours who are board members there. It’s a great organization.”
Why you give back: “Growing up I had a lot of family members who always lived with us. My grandparents immigrated from Colombia, and you always had people coming, and even though we didn’t grow up in an extremely wealthy family with a lot to give, my mother and father were always very generous with what we could do — not just in dollars, but in time and shelter. My brother and I had to double up on several occasions to make room for more people. Also, I think tragedy touches everybody. Whether it’s someone you know or a story that you hear, all you have to do to get your perspective realigned is to spend some time giving back. As early as 14 or 15, I ran a 10K for the American Heart Association in a tux. It’s just been part of my fabric and my DNA forever.”

When I’m not in the office, you can find me…
“With my kids, mostly being a taxi service. I have four daughters, ranging from 11 to 6 months, so there’s a wide array of activities. My oldest daughter is into golf. My second child is big into horseback riding. My third child is not too engaged in activities but certainly full of personality, so I’ll have long conversations with her where she does 90 percent of the talking, which is probably the cutest thing in the world. We spend a lot of time as a family doing activities and going out. I try not to teach them to be lazy and push them to get out and do things. Between work and family, I don’t have much time for anything else. I’ve been with my wife for 12 years married, together for 19 years. You’ve got to put intentional effort into keeping those relationships going.”

Mentor: “I think different parts of my life, I’ve had different mentors. Definitely my father growing up was a tremendous figure for me — getting up, working, being disciplined, pushing me in a number of respects. Once I got started, another gentleman, Jeff Myer, kind of broke me into, you’re not in school anymore, you’re in the business world. He was a great person. He passed away a few years ago, so that was very difficult. Then another gentleman by the name of Ron Glass, who was my largest client when I started in the business, he was someone twice my age, but we connected on a very deep personal level and were able to talk throughout. Certainly he’s been a big part of my career.”

Philosophy: “I try to live by four main values: collaboration, integrity, accountability and hard work. In a world where everything changes, it’s hard to find these anchors in life because it’s all about being adaptive and change management. And it’s true. If you stay still, things will pass you by pretty quickly. In reflection, with collaboration, I love people and I love working with people. I think that is one of the most important things in life — the quality of your relationships and your ability to connect with people. It make sense. The team is always stronger than the individual. I’m very much a believer in groups and teams, whether it be sports or military or business or philanthropy or school, that’s a big part of it. Accountability — do what you say when you say you’re going to do it. Or, in today’s world, let me know in real time why you can’t. That’s part of being on a team. You have to be accountable, and you have to know people are going to do what they need to do to move things forward. Hard work.

“One of my favorite quotes is something to the effect of, I know lots of people who had intellect who did nothing and people who had the right opportunity did nothing with it. But life is really is about pressing on. There is no success story that didn’t have hard work behind it. Then integrity, that’s an all-the-time thing, not a sometimes thing. Who am I is very important to me, not in a vain way, but as it relates to being with my children or as it relates to trying to be a good leader for the people who have graced me by following me. If I were doing things that did not make myself proud, between, on the weekends and nights and not being faithful to my wife or not trying to be honest and forthright with my dealings, it takes a lifetime to build that reputation and 30 seconds to ruin it. You really need all four values. And you have lots of derivatives, in terms of discipline and excellence, and a lot of these buzzwords. But I find they’re all extensions of those four things.”

Best piece of advice I can give others: “Just go do something. Your options aren’t start something or be out on the street. Sometimes I think people get too caught up in the downside, whether it’s, I’m waiting for the right time to have my children. I want to be prepared. Well, life passes you by. I don’t want to start my business because I don’t know if it will be successful. Well, maybe it fails. You go back and get a job. You’ve just got to do. Now, you’ve got to be calculated, and you can’t be tossing two sheets to the wind. But I do think you just have to try things in life and go forward. You only have one shot. You don’t get any do-overs, and regret is not something that anybody wants to have.”

My favorite thing about Tampa: “The convenience. I think Tampa is always underrated as one of the most convenient cities. If you’ve ever lived in any other place, you underestimate how convenient Tampa is. The people would be the next component of it. I believe in this kind of I-75/I-95 corridor. I’m from Ohio, and I think there are a lot of people who are welcoming and inviting. There are so many people who are involved in the community. There are so many great causes and people doing wonderful things. There’s tremendous opportunity. Tampa is absolutely a booming area. When I first moved here, it was like, who lives in Florida? You go there to vacation, but nobody actually lives there. The more time you spend down here, you realize the weather’s great most of the year, it’s very convenient, you have a tremendous assortment of activities. I get to take my kids to Disney World for a day in an hour’s drive and come back home and sleep in our own beds. What an amenity for people who have kids. Even flying, there’s a lot of direct flights to places from Tampa. You have a pretty diverse community, generally speaking. You have a great Latin influence, from Cubans to Puerto Ricans to Colombians. It’s a great melting pot of a community. And we’re aspiring to be better. I think that’s something, as a community, you don’t necessarily see in all places. We have so many great things going on and so many people trying to take great chances and move forward. You put all those things together, and I think it makes for a great community.”

App I can’t live without: “Email and text.”

Dream vacation: “When I was 13, my grandparents took my brother and I on a three-month trip in an RV across the country. I saw everything — the Grand Tetons, Crazy Horse Mountain, Devil’s Tower, Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon. I’ve seen every presidential birthplace and burial ground. The list goes on and on. I didn’t appreciate it as much at the time. I was without my friends for the entire summer. I wanted to be on my GameBoy or whatever it was, but in hindsight, what a trip of a lifetime. It’s not just because of the sights that I saw but because of the time I was able to spend with them without being connected to everything else. I cherish those memories to this day. I want to do that with my children at some point — take a few months and get in an RV and just drive all over the place. My wife reminds me it’s a little more difficult with four daughters. Bathroom time would be a little more interesting. Everything becomes a little more difficult when you have that many people, so we’ll have to figure out the logistics of that. That’s absolutely my dream vacation.”

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