Rockspring’s growth is accelerating and with 2020 on the horizon, there are a lot of exciting things in the pipeline. Mike Axelrad, Managing Director of Capital Markets, recently fielded a Q&A to talk about his time at Rockspring (he joined in 2017), how his role and the team have transformed and why he is excited about the future.
How have you enjoyed your time with Rockspring so far?
My time at Rockspring has been, in a word, a “blast.” Having come from the corporate world, most recently a publicly traded REIT and prior to that, entities owned by Morgan Stanley and Blackstone affiliates, it was refreshing to join a team that had a more entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to grow an operating platform. During my brief tenure, I have seen the management team assembled by Jim McAllister, coalesce around a common view to grow that firm to become a multidiscipline full-service real estate firm.
Tell me about your role at Rockspring.
I initially joined Rockspring to continue the retail funds that we have in both Canada and in the Broker/Dealer space here in the US. Through these funds, smaller investors are able to participate in real estate that they would otherwise not be able to afford. Additionally, they are able to utilize our local expertise to invest in the dynamic Texas Triangle (DFW, Austin/San Antonio and Greater Houston markets). We have launched the US Broker Dealer Fund and am on the cusp of launching the latest Canadian Fund.
With that said, my role at the firm is evolving. We are developing new lines of business to include development, asset management and leasing within several real estate asset classes, namely light industrial, self storage, single family and retail. These disciplines are served by the collective experience within the existing management team. For example, my background is in Retail Services. In that capacity, I managed, leased, developed and sold shopping centers in the Texas Market, more than 11 million square feet. We will utilize this background to grow our platform to buy and build shopping centers in our markets as well as build a leasing and asset management team to support the business unit. Similarly, other members of the team have experience in light industrial, self storage and single family that we will leverage. Ultimately we will do MOB.
What are you most proud of since joining the team? What are you looking to still improve?
I am pleased with the relaunch of our retail level funds, the creation of a High Net Worth Fund and improving the overall investor experience with Rockspring. We are working diligently to improve investor communication and improving the overall offering to provide superior risk adjusted returns. With those strides, we are also looking to broaden our capital stack to broaden our investor base by providing investors with different product to be more closely correlated to their risk tolerance.
You recently attended ADISA in Las Vegas, tell us about the goal and how you think it went?
This year’s annual conference at ADISA in Las Vegas was a success. We went with the intention of meeting with a large number of broker dealers and their due diligence teams that have their clients invest in the alternative space that we have not yet tapped and together with my recent Rockspring team add, Jim Manouse, we were able to start the process to become associated with larger Broker Dealer organizations to be placed on their shelf… The product was well received and follow up meetings should yield a bevy of new Broker Dealers and new investors.
Since the team is getting bigger, how has the atmosphere of the Company changed if at all?
It’s a far more dynamic environment, which is both exciting and demanding. We are looking to grow Rockspring from the bottom up by looking at and rationalizing every process within the organization. One of the key components is the influx of young real estate professionals. Having the ability to train young professionals in the industry to create a legacy is really rewarding. Being able to take senior managements’ collective experience and bring up the next generation has created a vibrant work life experience.
Thinking on direction and strategy, what has you most excited about the firm in 2020?
Executing on the firm strategy of building new lines of business while maintaining existing lines of business will be an exciting time for us all.