I have worked in the construction, development, land and real estate business for over 40 years. In that time, we have witnessed the highs and lows of the economy and had a front row seat to growth, trends and market challenges that have confronted us. One must not look far to understand that the economic lows, while they are a challenge, often result in vibrant recovery.
Our organization was founded in 1935 during the middle of America’s Great Depression which ran from 1929-1939. In fact, a real estate boom had occurred in the 1920’s prior to the stock market crash of 1929 – followed by many years of challenge. Our founder, George Henkle, as a young man, saw an opportunity to help out the farming community and began a business as a farm brokerage.
The land that comprises Butler and Warren Counties was farmland and George understood that by working with farmers, an opportunity could be fostered for all. His early transactions included the land upon which King’s Island now sits. George ultimately had an early vision that Cincinnati and Dayton would become one large combined market – which he termed a “Super City.”
At this time the area was farmland, and the Cincinnati “suburbs” were generally south of Norwood.
Fast forward to today, and his vision is nearing reality.
“The ability to persevere during these times includes understanding what types of businesses are necessary throughout the ups and downs.”
By understanding the dynamics of market downturns, we can better forecast and adapt our vision and plan for the future. This requires understanding of the history as well as an optimistic view of the future. This requires planning, perseverance and committed work teams.
The majority of our executives have worked together through both the highs and lows. We understand our customers’ business needs and their vision. Our own vision is about the business success of those for whom we locate land, build facilities and develop and manage properties.
Most businesses continue to endeavor for the long haul. While many would like the “get rich quick” approach, I like to say that we are in the “get rich slow” business. While the former is most appealing, the latter is the more realistic.
The “dot.com boom” (and bust) and the more recent “start- up boom” likely instructs us that most individuals and business organizations do not partake in “get rich quick.” They must accept that success demands hard work, long hours, and a focus that results in solid business planning.
Land, real estate, development and construction are about the deep understanding of market dynamics and the ability to go the distance during both tough and prosperous times. In addition to The Depression, this includes more recent times of 1987 and 2008. In 2008, we witnessed many firms (similar to ours) shutter. We saw the construction business decline, with little growth in the overall economy.
The ability to persevere during these times includes understanding what types of businesses are necessary throughout the ups and downs. Construction continues at all points upon the economy’s continuum and smart businesses understand how to not only respond to a growth economy, but also a challenged one.
It is critical to focus upon lifestyle trends as well as generational activity. 2018 is very much about the impact that the Baby Boom generation has on the overall economy. As this generation ages, they look to where they will live and retire. Both of which heartily impact the development business.
The Millennials also have their own ideas about their lifestyles that include where they will work in proximity to where they live. This impacts transportation, location of their homes (and are these apartments or houses?) and how they spend their leisure time. It also includes wellness, overall individual health, how they consume (online versus malls) and what they do for leisure.
And the business that I run has rapidly led the way in development of the industries that support both the lives of the Baby Boomers and more recent generations. It is up to us to have a vision and know where American lives are headed. Much like our founder George Henkle did.