Founders of ADG4 are confident the timing — launching during a pandemic — will be a benefit.
A foursome of Southwest Florida real estate management and development professionals, tapping into the power of strength in numbers, unknowingly picked a unique-for-the-ages time to start a new business.
But the principles of the startup, Naples-based ADG4, have no regrets in launching the business in January — three months before the coronavirus pandemic. The firm’s focus, for now and the rest of 2020, at least, is to build a client base in commercial property management, focusing on high-end service. “It’s a little bit scary,” firm Principal Peter Carroll says, “but it’s also exciting to see what opportunities are out there for us and how the market will adapt to all the changes.”
Naples native Zahra Antaramian originally saw the potential for a team-up. Her family (led by her late father, prominent developer Jack Antaramian) helped turn Naples’s Fifth Avenue South into the thriving spot it is today. More recently, she’s managed custom home construction projects and served as a construction consultant for area real estate developers.
She first convinced Bob Frazitta to get on board; the financial and operations specialist worked with her father on development projects on Fifth Avenue South and in other parts of Naples. They then got the other two partners to join the company: Charles Thomas, who has been involved in the planning and entitlement process for various residential, commercial and mixed-use properties in Southwest Florida over his 40 years in real estate, and Carroll, who served as project manager for the Antaramian Development Group, where he developed residential, mixed-use and other projects in Naples and Marco Island.
In addition to its launch date, the firm is also unique in its generational breakdown: Zahra Antaramian is a millennial — and at 25 years old, on the young end of the cohort. Frazitta, Thomas and Carroll are all baby boomers.
Officially launched at the beginning of 2020, ADG4 offers clients a variety of residential and commercial property management and development services through its group of related entities. “Our individual experiences in the market showed us the need for a company that could do what ADG4 is capable of doing,” Antaramian says. “With the strengths of the team, the history we have with each other and our desire to really get that going again and work together to build something of our own, we saw that we could create something special.”
For the commercial real estate sector, ADG4Properties offers clients customized property management and owner representation services. With heavy competition in that area, the partners, in an interview in February, said they believe their years of experience developing their own projects in the area offers a differentiator.
“We know what an owner expects and wants,” Frazitta says. “There aren’t too many property management companies out there that can give that type of service to their clients.”
Now as landlords and commercial property firms adjust to new office safety requirements and other pandemic changes, Carroll and others on the team say their ability to be nimble will be an advantage. “The landscape of commercial properties is changing so much,” Antaramian says in a May 21 interview, adding she thinks clients will respond well to ADG4’s high-touch service approach.
Although commercial property management is at the forefront, Antaramian says the firm is also targeting home management and residential owner representation services, through its ADG4Living unit. For homeowners, ADG4Living can supervise contractors; manage repairs, general maintenance and storm preparations; and act as owner representative for renovations or new builds. It’s a thriving niche industry in Naples, but it's also fragmented.
“There’s really no other company in the Southwest Florida area that offers what ADG4Living is offering,” Antaramian says. “You see a lot of individuals performing it that are one-man shows. So it’s really unique in the sense that we are offering something no one else can.”
The partners are focusing on growing ADG4Living through direct mailers and networking with their array of professional contacts. “Referrals are also a huge way for us to gain clients now,” Antaramian says. They seek to grow the commercial entities organically through their networks as well.
The company, self-financed by its partners, expects to hit some of the same bumps any startup venture does around building a name and trusted reputation. “Growth is always a huge concern, how to do it in the right way and hire the right people,” Antaramian said in February. “Those are probably our two biggest concerns at this point.”
And while not discounting coronavirus-bred challenges, the partners say they are focused on finding opportunities, not on what’s been lost. Some also have the benefit of having been through down markets. “The older ones of us have been through quite a few cycles,” Frazitta says. “So we’ve got some experience with that.”
Mark Gordon contributed to this story.