When multifamily executives leave the office, there are a lot of things at work that they'd rather leave behind. Competition isn't one of them.
Just look at their extracurricular activities. Dave Woodward, CEO and managing partner of Laramar Group, an apartment owner and manager based in Greenwood Village, Colo., and Carol Galante, president and CEO of BRIDGE Housing, a San Francisco- based affordable housing developer, both compete in triathlons. Larry Connor, CEO of The Connor Group, an apartment owner and manager based in Dayton, Ohio, races cars and climbs mountains. Scot Sellers, CEO of Archstone, an Englewood, Colo.-based apartment owner, is a ranked tennis player and avid surfer. (See "Hanging Ten")
High-profile REIT CEOs are also in on the games. Bryce Blair, head of Alexandria, Va.-based AvalonBay Communities, and Tom Toomey, chief of Highlands Ranch, Colo.-based UDR, both cycle and ski.
"I think real estate folks are drawn to athletics because we love the competition and the strategy," Galante says.
Galante, a former competitive swimmer, began doing sprint triathlons three years ago to increase her fitness level when she got bored with jogging. She likes the challenge of participating in events such as the Bay Area's See Jane Tri?which includes a 500-meter swim, 11-mile bike ride, and 3-mile run?because she gets to think about something other than work. "I love keeping myself physically challenged, and I also like having a mental focus that goes beyond my work," Galante says. "I train with a formal group training program, so there is a social aspect as well."
Connor's friends got him into his pasttimes. In the 1980s, one friend got him behind the wheel of a race car, and he soon became a two-time national sports car racing champion. Then, he went whitewater rafting in South America and Africa with other friends who climbed, and they asked him to join them on a climb of 19,341-foot-tall Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. He climbed Mt. Rainier in Washington state this past August. In the process, he combated the worst weather of the season on the mountain, which boasts an elevation of 14,411 feet.
"Mountain climbing comes down to how much pain you're willing to endure and how much risk you're willing to take," Connor says. "In real estate, it's the opposite. It's about eliminating risk and maximizing the potential."