In every industry, there are companies known for developing industry leaders. In packaged goods, it's Proctor and Gamble. In computers, it was once IBM. And in multifamily, Trammell Crow Residential is one of the best training grounds there is. Among its alums: Leonard Wood, who founded Wood Partners, which is now one of the largest multifamily builders in the country; Bryce Blair, chairman of AvalonBay; and Chris Wheeler, chairman of Gables Residential.
“Executives get thrown into the fray pretty early, and they can either grow within TCR or forge out on their own,” NMHC's Doug Bibby says. “TCR has long been regarded as the best proving ground for executives.”
In structure, TCR remains a decentralized organization. Local leaders make a lot of important decisions, which builds their skills and decision-making capabilities for larger projects. “There's a huge trust factor,” says Ken Valach, executive managing director for TCR. “We know that we all make mistakes. If you have the drive and basic intelligence, you can be successful.”
“The culture makes you feel like you're a part of the team and an owner of the real estate,” Valach says. “What [TCR employees] really make is based on their own initiative. Based on your merits and your deals, you can make money. If it's a bad deal, everyone suffers. If it's a good deal, ever yone makes money.”
That's a different attitude than many companies. “What sets TCR apart is their approach to gain-sharing,” Bibby says. “All employees have a piece of the deal, so all are invested in its success.”