Commercial Journal St. Louis
Earlier this year, Savoy Properties partnered with another firm to purchase the five-story, 85,000-square-foot Lakeview Office Center in Town & Country, Mo. The road leading to our most recent transaction was marked by twists and turns in the form of challenges, opportunity and most importantly, learning. And, through it all, I found myself thinking of my dad's words of wisdom that he has shared with me since I was a kid.
For more than 45 years my father, Bill Bouchein, has had the ear of business as a management consultant. He has specialized in righting floundering strategies of companies and steering them to greater prosperity. He has an uncanny ability to assess the facts of a situation and
The irony is that my father's success is not rooted in complexity, but simplicity. And while his words of wisdom have had an enormous impact on turnarounds and ownership transitions, it is no greater than the impact they've had on me. Among his tenets:
• It's easy to make more money, but it's hard to get your good reputation back.
Who in business isn't tempted to stretch the truth to maximize profit? My father has seen one too many companies trade their reputations for a short-term gain. Recently, a broker told me that in a business fraught with cutthroat tactics, Savoy Properties is the most honest client he ever had, simply because we do what we say we will do. It was appreciated, but more so because it honored my father.
• Where there's a problem, there's an opportunity.
After founding Savoy with my partner Michael Denckhoff in 2000, we assembled a sizable portfolio of good-quality apartment complexes. We were successful, but it masked a problem. With 600 units in multiple locations and not enough employees, it just wasn't fun. We clearly needed to find more operational efficiencies and make success fun. So we turned it into an opportunity to energize the firm by managing the work better and expanding company-wide competencies.
Today, we have completed more than $95 million in transactions and built a portfolio that includes not only multi-family properties, but medical office, industrial and retail. We spend more of our time doing what we enjoy, which is analyzing new opportunities.
• Remember that 99 percent of what you know, you learned from someone else.
My father's parting advice as I left for college was: "Don't go for the highest paying job, go for the job that will teach you the most." It has been a constant reminder for me to listen and ask questions. What we learn during the due-diligence process ultimately separate the deals we make from the ones we decline.
• Persistence is the one consistent characteristic in successful people.
You can't be persistent without passion, and you can't be passionate unless you are doing something you like. This tenet was critical to Savoy closing on the Lakeview Office Center deal - one of our largest transactions ever. Without it, we could not grow.
• That brings us to my all-time favorite saying: "Do your best. No more. No less."
Dad is now 71. He's a CPA, has an MBA and has more experience running businesses or organizations than anyone I know. And yet today he'll tell you that he's still learning.
It is that commitment to doing his best, no more, no less, that has instilled in me the willingness to persist, to solve problems and to learn. I only hope that I can be as eloquent as he in passing his clarity of thought on to future generations.