“We are a regional commercial real estate brokerage firm. We have specialists in industrial manufacturing and distribution, office, retail, and multi-family. Although we cover all the major commercial real estate disciplines, in a brokerage capacity we focus on providing strategic solutions,” explains Eric Hinkelman, Voit Real Estate Services’ Chief Executive Officer.
The commercial real estate industry is an influential contributor to the fabric of the United States economy. Research indicates that by 2017 commercial real estate construction accounted for approximately $87 billion (US) compared to just over $62 billion in 2002.
Commercial real estate firms require a set of specialized knowledge led by an equally specialized team that possesses the appropriate skill set, strong client relations, and effective strategies to aid clients in achieving their goals. Equally important are exceptional planning and local market expertise. In Southern California, Voit Real Estate Services has embodied these attributes for nearly fifty years.
The company was established in 1971 by Bob Voit. It is his professionalism, dedication to clients, and a distinctive company culture that enable the Voit name to retain significant value in the Southern California market. The company serves clients from its headquarters in Irvine with additional regional offices in Anaheim, Carlsbad, Los Angeles, Ontario (Inland Empire), and in the La Jolla market area north of San Diego.
Being privately held offers competitive advantages for any organization, including control over all operational decisions and the ability to report to clients directly without outside investor influence. “We don’t have to float anything by outside shareholders and wait for them to say whether or not they think it’s good for the company. We are self-contained here,” says Eric.
“Being privately held is truly a competitive advantage. We’re a flat company, so if we want to render a decision we render a decision,” he adds. “Literally, we can get things done in five minutes – ten minutes max – and there is no ambiguity as to who our real client is, and that’s who we are going to take care of first and foremost.”
In 1987, Voit’s brokerage division was founded, and by 2015, the transition was made to being completely broker-owned. This was after Bob Voit decided that he was ready to relinquish the daily operations to pursue his passion for investment and development. Being broker-owned made the most sense to him, so a deal was crafted with some of his senior brokers, many of whom he had been working with for close to thirty years. Bob wanted to “strike a deal that made sense for all parties,” says Eric, adding that Bob’s goal was for the company to retain the name and more importantly, the culture of collaboration and service.
Eric believes in the adage of ‘working hard and playing hard,’ and this is a substantial part of the company framework. “We work very hard. It’s a very competitive business.”
A spirit of collaboration is found in all involved in every project. “Everybody has a say at the table here because we are such a flat organization,” he says. Everyone’s thoughts and ideas are taken into consideration. “We can then execute on collaborative decisions, which is a great thing for recruitment and retention,” he shares.
“We are huge on training. That’s been a big part of our culture,” Eric says, adding that training is both internal and external through regular seminars. Many of the seminars are geared toward, “our young people who could use some help in addition to the mentorship they are getting internally. Nurturing professionals early in their careers has always been a big part of Voit. I think the more arrows in their quivers, the greater chance for success.”
Voit Real Estate Services always employs the best resources to assess and bring clients’ visions to fruition. Eric feels that to comprehend and utilize clients’ needs fully, “You have to have the ability to listen.” Once this is understood, “then you can help create strategies.” These strategies may come in the form of new or existing technologies dependent on client needs.
“We’re constantly having people come in and give us demonstrations or presentations on the newest and latest in technology for commercial real estate,” he says. “But when it gets right to the core of it, if you can’t listen to what your client has to say, you’ll miss the boat pretty much every single time.”
After the 2015 transition to being broker-owned, the company wanted to “focus on our core strength, which is operating as an extremely focused regional commercial real estate brokerage firm,” says Eric. Subsequently, the property management component of Voit was dissolved, but the company still wanted to align itself “with a regional complementary property management firm.” The most harmonizing association was found with River Rock Real Estate Group, also headquartered in Southern California in Newport Beach, Orange County, because its geographic expertise, size, and goals corresponded with what Voit sought. “We formed a loose alliance with River Rock from that respect,” says Eric.
Another partnership was formed with Valley Commercial Contractors of Irvine, California. Bob Voit has had a long-time relationship with the contractors. “We’ve done a lot of business with them over the years,” explains Eric. “In fact, in Orange County, we’ve housed one of their specialists in our offices, and it has been a real asset to have somebody on site that has project expertise.”
Another affiliation is an international one with CORFAC, composed of eighty independently owned commercial real estate brokerage firms, forty-six of which are in the United States. CORFAC serves Voit well for clients who have requirements outside of the company’s area of expertise. “We’ve been a member of CORFAC for a number of years,” says Eric. “It allows us to have a national or even international presence when needed.”
He explains that, “A lot of Southern California is considered an infill market, meaning there’s not a lot of raw land available for development.” One of the ways the company can add value is by revitalizing or enhancing some functionally obsolete buildings by working with developers to “strategize and design a way to repurpose some existing buildings or frankly, tear down and create new state-of-the-art types of buildings, then bring the companies, the tenants, into these buildings.”
By doing so, people can take advantage of the services in those communities such as shopping and employment, and the company “can help contribute to the economic growth and revitalization of a community.”
Voit Real Estate Services prides itself on its corporate culture which has been maintained from its inception. “I would say in my thirty-five years, it’s as unique a culture as anything I’ve ever been around,” says Eric.
What makes him most proud are Voit’s charitable and philanthropic endeavors within communities that “enhance the strength of that community. I’d like to believe that we play a small part in that.”
The company engages in social events and many of them have a “very big focus in philanthropic and charitable endeavors,” he says. Events include socials at each of its offices, internal golf tournaments, summer parties for staff and their families, incentive trips for top producers, and time and money donated to several chapters of The Boys and Girls Club of America and the Challenged Athletes Foundation, among many other charities.
“We do a lot of social things combined with our work efforts to provide a culture that I think is unique in the industry,” affirms Eric. “You just don’t see this kind of thing anymore. As a privately-held company, we’re able to do the things that we think are best for our people, what’s best for the company, and the culture overall,” he says.
“There’s such a diversity of industries here. As well, there’s consistent job growth. When you get right down to it, there’s still a desire to live here,” Eric says of the health of the commercial real estate market in Southern California. “The vacancy in industrial is incredibly low. We have one of the most dynamic industrial markets in the world if you look at what’s considered the Inland Empire market, and then you take the ports into consideration (Los Angeles and Long Beach) and the diversity of industries. It’s a pretty solid makeup for a very strong commercial real estate economy here in Southern California.”
Over the next five years, Eric hopes to see Voit Real Estate Services “steadily grow in our Southern California base and expand what we have. We’re a big fan of organic growth.”