“My favorite part of the job is helping others at Shenehon succeed, by providing them the tools and support that gives them the best opportunities possible. Seeing those around me at Shenehon have success is the most rewarding aspect of my work, in the same way that a coach shares in the success of his team when they are playing to the best of their abilities.”
This is the first in a series of interviews with the movers and shakers in the real estate industry. Our first interview is with Mr. Robert Strachota, President of Shenehon Company and Co-Chair of the Real Estate advisor board at University of St. Thomas. With almost four decades of experience, Mr. Strachota was gracious enough to share some of his ideas and lessons learned over the course of his career. As the president of Shenehon Mr. Strachota has had an incredible career, here is his work bio (From Shenehon’s website):
Bob is the President of Shenehon Company. He holds both the MAI and CBA designations and has over 30 years of appraisal experience in the commercial real estate and business enterprise valuations. During that time, he has successfully completed thousands of appraisals, including some very unusual assignments such as: railroads, riverboats, ranches, resorts, etc. Bob serves as an expert witness in Federal, State, and District Courts, as well as for commission hearings and special government proceedings. He is an ad hoc professor for three degree-accredited universities and is frequently invited to speak at valuation seminars and extension courses. He acts as a court-approved arbitrator, commissioner, and magistrate in real estate and business valuation disputes. Bob holds the highest designations from the Institute of Business Appraisers and the Appraisal Institute and he publishes in both local and national trade journals.
What is a typical day like for you?
B.S. I spend about 40% of my time working with clients and companies seeking appraisals and other valuation related services, and 60% conducting analysis and solving valuation problems. I was always interested in the math and problem solving aspects of valuation, therefore, my ability to continue to engage in the actual valuation process is one of the best parts of my day to day job.
The real estate industry is very competitive, do you spend a lot of time soliciting new business?
B.S. Thanks to the reputation that Shenehon has earned, through decades of proving quality services to our customers, I rarely engage in direct solicitation (or seeking new business). Shenehon receives a majority of its clients through word-of-mouth recommendations from existing and past clients.
How did you get into Real Estate?
B.S. I was a Finance major at UST and was looking to get into real estate. I interviewed for an appraisal job in 1970’s, an industry that mostly consisted of older, more experienced brokers. I was part of the first batch of young people to enter the industry, and I enjoyed it so much I never ended up leaving appraisal and valuation.
What do you like best about your job?
B.S. My favorite part of the job is helping others at Shenehon succeed, by providing them the tools and support that gives them the best opportunities possible. Seeing those around me at Shenehon have success is the most rewarding aspect of my work, in the same way that a coach shares in the success of his team when they are playing to the best of their abilities.
What do you like least about your job?
B.S. As the president of the company it is my job to discipline and release underperforming employees. Although this is a crucial function of a successful business, I do not take any pleasure in this responsibility, as it is extremely difficulty for the employee and is emotionally taxing for me.
What advice would you give for someone wanting to get into your field?
B.S. If you like to analyze and figure out valuations, try to get an internship at a company that specializes in this field. This is a good opportunity to try the job and see if you like it. If you find yourself immersed in the problems and enjoying the day to day analysis, you’ve found your job. If it seems like you are not that interested in the process, you aren’t committed to a firm and you can bring that experience to another part of the industry.
What kind of education or degree is best suited for work in real estate valuation?
B.S. At Shenehon, we look for business undergraduates, preferably in real estate. To strengthen your candidacy a MSRE degree from St. Thomas, or another strong real estate program is a definite asset to your resume. Otherwise an MBA is a great degree, but we look for the specific analytical experience and skill set to succeed in valuation. We are currently hiring at Shenehon and I just made an offer to an MSRE student at UST.
What trade associations should they participate in?
B.S. NAIOP- This organization consists of many movers and shakers in the industry. Also, the Associate for Corporate Growth (ACG) is a great organization for people interested in new business, emerging markets and mergers and acquisitions.
What type of personality/set of abilities work the best in this position?
B.S. Candidates need to posses a strong analytic skill set. They must enjoy problem solving, and have the tools to grasp a problem fully, and break down the steps necessary to formulate a solution.
Do you have any other advise for potential candidates?
B.S. The key is to be tenacious, do you research on the job you want. There are so many resources available today that will help candidates learn the specifics of the industry and the company they are interested in. Also you need to do research on yourself, you must know and understand your strengths and weaknesses. Select a career path that emphasizes your strengths and downplay your weaknesses, in doing this you will be happy, and find success.
What is the most interesting project/deal/transaction that you have worked on?
B.S. I have had the opportunity to appraise salt caverns in Oklahoma and Arkansas. These geologic formations are used to store the nations natural gas reserve, and therefore are crucial to our economy. However, appraising this type of asset required a very creative approach, and the process was extremely rewarding and a great experience for me.
I would like to thank Mr. Strachota for taking time out of his busy schedule to share some of his insights. To learn more about Mr. Strachota, or Shenehon companies, visit the Shenehon website.