Chris Abbott thought he would grow his one-man real estate company slow and steady when he founded it in late 2008. Eight employees and a half-dozen big contracts later, that plan is history.
Chris Abbott went in several entrepreneurial directions in 2004 after his U.S. Army tour ended.
He became an inventor, a software developer and a commercial real estate investor. He also worked in land development for some of the Gulf Coast's most respected homebuilders and developers.
But it turns out Abbott's best directional decision, so far at least, was to start a multi-family residential and commercial property management company amid a crippling recession.
That company, which Abbott founded as a one-man show in October 2008, is now poised for a growth spurt. The Review first profiled Abbott and the company, Ryntal Property Management, in its special issue on young entrepreneurs last year. (See Review, 1/23/09.)
Ryntal has since hired eight employees, with plans to bring on four more inside office clerks and 12 additional rental agents this year. Abbott, 32, projects Ryntal will reach at least $600,000 in revenues in 2010, when it will also open two retail apartment rental stores.
Abbott even recently brought on a business partner, a CPA and former accounting executive with several international construction and real estate firms based in the Washington D.C. area. The partner, Tom Wagenhauser, joined the company last year.
“There is a lot of opportunity out there for us,” Abbott says. “We are looking at tremendous growth in 2010.”
The firm's growth potential, of course, hinges somewhat on the recession, which has put dozens of Gulf Coast commercial and multi-family property owners in a bind. Property owners, especially those who own small condo or apartment buildings, from four to 50 units, have an acute problem: To find tenants who can pay rent, on-time and in full.
Ryntal's clients are mostly investor-property owners who are focused on their core businesses and want to outsource property management. One client is Darrell Turner, who runs a Bradenton-based commercial landscaping service and also owns a 16-unit apartment complex in Sarasota.
Ryntal took over that building, the Terraces, early last year. Abbott says Ryntal increased the occupancy rates in the complex from zero to 100% in about two months. The building has remained full since June.
Ryntal's other properties under management include Desoto Village, a 92-unit apartment complex in Bradenton and the Rialto, a 37-unit apartment building near Venice Beach. Ryntal also manages 32 units in receivership through Sarasota-based Peninsula Bank.
For clients like Turner and the others, Abbott says Ryntal's business model is focused on one mantra: Place the right tenant.
The company does that, says Abbott, through an aggressive marketing and branding campaign of each property. Ryntal also puts a premium on the background checks it runs on potential tenants, which sounds obvious but isn't always done in the industry.
Says Abbott: “We don't allow a tenant to lease a unit [if] they will have a hard time making the rent.”
Abbott, in addition to the property management side of Ryntal, is also considering buying some local properties, including a 12-unit and a 26-unit apartment building. Abbott says he would work with an outside investor on those purchases and then manage the properties through Ryntal.
Abbott grew up in Naples. He looked up to his entrepreneurial grandfather, who ran a small airline in Miami that shipped cattle, among other business interests.
Abbott, before he started businesses of his own, graduated from the Virginia Military Institute and then joined the military. He rose to the rank of captain in the
Army, where he eventually oversaw a tank platoon of 32 soldiers.
While Abbott reflects fondly on his time in the Army, he cherishes the transition to an entrepreneurial life.
“What I like about being on my own is that I directly impact my future,” Abbott says. “Every dollar earned and then invested in a flag or sign continues to make the company grow.”
— Mark Gordon