By Meghan Hall
Minneapolis-based Ryan Companies was introduced to the Puget Sound in 2015 as the market was beginning to evolve at a rapid pace. Since then, the firm has been working to make an impact, spearheading a number of developments such as The Prato District in Tukwila, Wash., and 65 S. Horton Street in Seattle. The Registry sat down with Tim Ryan, now the firm’s development manager. Ryan, who has been part of the Ryan Companies PNW team since its earliest days in the market, spoke about what is in store for the company and how it plans to evolve in the Pacific Northwest.
Tim, you have been with Ryan Companies since it first established a presence in the PNW. Can you talk a little bit about how the company has grown in the region?
Ryan Companies was introduced to the Pacific Northwest through a great opportunity to work with Group Health, now Kaiser Permanente, in 2015. We had no presence in this region at the time, so the project was led by our Development and Construction teams in the Southwest Office based out of Phoenix. I was completing a project in St. Paul, Minnesota when I first heard about the opportunity and eagerly raised my hand to join the construction side of the effort. We filled the construction team with people from a few different offices nationwide and started getting boots on the ground in early 2015. Coming from locations where Ryan was an established brand with strong subcontractor relationships, it was a humbling experience to be a new fish in a big pond. The Northwest was booming with construction projects and subcontractors were busy and unsure about investing their time and effort in a company that they knew little about.
The construction team spent a substantial amount of time introducing ourselves and interviewing subcontractors to ensure we were working with the right teams to complete the project. The approach resonated with the subcontractors we met with who appreciated our diligence in the vetting process. It showed them our value for their local expertise and that we intended to perform more work in the area, and to do so we were looking to build solid, long-term relationships.
Our team and partners certainly stepped up to deliver. Once the first two buildings with Group Health were taking shape, we partnered with them again on two additional buildings for their Renton campus as well as a clinic in Burien.
Our work in the region continued from there as we leveraged existing relationships nationally to find opportunities for clients in the Pacific Northwest. Kirkland Urban, a mixed-use development in Kirkland, was the result of those efforts. We were introduced to Talon, a local developer and our partner on the project, and were able to continue working with Collins Woerman, who was the architect of record on the Group Health campus.
What strategies have successfully contributed to this growth?
Our regional growth was dependent on building out a team of leadership and staff with local market expertise. Bret Jordan, former managing director of Colliers’ Puget Sound office, was asked to lead the Ryan Northwest office, formalizing our presence in the region. His experience and knowledge of the region’s history, challenges and opportunity areas combined with strategic vision has been an invaluable asset to the office’s growth. I am grateful to have Bret as a mentor.
You have recently stepped into the role of development manager after spending time on the construction side of the business. How have your previous experiences prepared you for your new title?
I have been working on the construction side of the business since I joined Ryan in 2008 as a field engineer. I worked for a few years as a superintendent before moving on to project management and recently transitioned to development. My construction background gives a unique perspective to my new role as a development manager in the assessment of sites, site logistics, understanding of construction costs and being able to identify potential risks during the construction phase.
How have the roles been similar? Different?
There are a number of similarities in the roles in regard to process and schedule management of the projects, but working on the development side I’m being challenged to change my perspective in relation to those processes. Being able to work on the front end of the project lifecycle and the opportunities to find creative solutions for clients we partner with and be able to influence positive outcomes for the communities we work in is really exciting for me.
How does your new role further Ryan Companies’ goals as a firm?
Our goals are to expand our capacity to execute development and 3rd party construction opportunities in the region. We recognize that our business shapes and impacts communities in the long-term, so our focus has widened beyond profit margins. Now that we are part of this region, we plan to have a positive impact on its future.
Is there a project that Ryan Companies is currently working on that it is particularly excited about? If so, why? How is this project reflective of the company’s goals?
I am very grateful that our clients put their trust in our teams to perform, which is duly appreciated. Each one of our projects are exciting in their own ways. Our 65 S. Horton project will be our first development that the Ryan Northwest office sourced, managed and constructed locally. The project is a unique and quite innovative flex industrial concept which we feel confident will be successful in this market given the high demand for last mile distribution.
When I think about this project, I’m reminded of a quote we often used when I was playing ice hockey in high school, “For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.” 65 S. Horton will be a project our region can rally around and bond our team.
How does Ryan Companies view the Puget Sound as a market to invest/build in? What fundamentals make it appealing in these regards?
We see a lot of future opportunity in the Pacific Northwest with the region’s anticipated growth. A lot of this is driven by the region’s technology companies and tech-friendly environments. Our platform and team have been built to suit every need that comes with this kind of growth from Class A office to industrial to mixed-use development.
Conversely, what challenges does the region—or even the industry/asset classes—continue to face? How is Ryan Companies navigating them?
This a dense market where available land is scarce and usually the opportunities available come with some substantial challenges. However, overcoming those challenges and finding creative and innovative ways to solve them are one of the strengths that Ryan brings. Instead of avoiding opportunities because they have hurdles, we are drawn to them because we have a solid reputation of finding solutions.
How do you see commercial real estate evolving over the next 12-24 months? Why?
We will have to be creative in finding opportunities in the region’s land scarce environment by repurposing existing structures for new uses and identifying obsolete product that can be replaced. The region’s embrace of innovation makes this a particularly exciting time. Continued technological advances will impact all aspects of our business and we will have to be prepared to try new things.
How is Ryan Companies charting its continued expansion in the region? What about the PNW is the organization most excited about and why?
We are currently focused on office, industrial, senior housing and multifamily strategic sectors. As our Northwest office continues to grow, we plan to utilize our national expertise to expand into healthcare, hospitality, mixed-use and retail. To do this, we are looking to expand the utilization of our integrated delivery model by adding local architecture and engineering as well as real estate management to the team.
Our team is young and has been assembled from personnel across multiple Ryan offices nationwide. As we continue to grow in this area, I look forward to fostering the next generation of Ryan Northwest and creating an office that is locally grounded but raised in the company’s cultural values that are shared across the country.
Every day we look to champion Ryan’s core values of excellence, family, integrity, respect, safety, stewardship and most importantly, fun. Having fun is at the root of how people enjoy the work they are doing.