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Commercial Real Estate
Business Observer Friday, Sep. 20, 2019 8 months ago

Seagate Development has established itself as a problem solver

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Fort Myers-based firm has created a specialty out of generalizing — for itself and others.
by: Kevin McQuaid Commercial Real Estate Editor

Seagate Development Group has differentiated itself as one of the rare Southwest Florida firms capable of handling not only ground-up residential and commercial projects, but numerous subsets within each sector.

On the commercial side, the Fort Myers-based firm has tackled major development projects, together with construction, design, property management, interior tenant improvements and leasing.

From a residential perspective, Seagate develops its own communities and provided interior design work and remodeling services for homeowners.

“Whether it’s purchasing land to obtaining entitlements or construction and interior build out, we do it all, and more and more, that is rare,” says William G. Price Jr., one of three partners together with his son, Matt, and James Nulf, in the four-year-old business.

“Controlling each aspect of the business, doing it all in-house and having that collective knowledge of all aspects allows us to keep abreast of what’s going on in the market,” says Matt Price, the company’s CEO. “We understand the process from the ground up, which allows us to better understand everything from finance to construction costs.”

As the company’s reputation has grown with projects such as a 52,710-square-foot operations center for Conditioned Air of Naples; a roughly 10,000-square-foot headquarters for TerraSmart; and most recently a $50 million-plus, 150,000-square-foot headquarters for medical supplier NeoGenomics in Fort Myers, Seagate has also focused on its own internal growth.

In 2015, when it began, Seagate operated with a dozen employees and generated revenue of $17.6 million its first year. The company today has 50 employees and generated revenue of nearly $63 million in 2018.

To that end, the company is developing a new-stand-alone, two-story headquarters for itself on Alico Road in Fort Myers to accommodate future growth and expanding endeavors.

The 13,500-square-foot building, at 9921 Interstate Commerce Drive, is slated for delivery in the first quarter of next year. Seagate plans to vacate its current 4,500-square-foot space in the Westlinks Business Park it owns when the new building is completed.

COURTESY RENDERING — Seagate Development's new 13,500-square-foot headquarters will be completed in the first half of 2020.

New office buildings aside, Seagate has also displayed development dexterity in a number of sectors, from office to industrial and retail to self-storage centers. The company has even built a few churches.

“We touch a lot of different things, but at the same time we seem to have developed a few niches that we’re known for, and we’ve been fortunate in that they continue to grow,” says Matt Price, a former WCI Communities executive in the company’s tower division from 2003 to 2005.

Much of that growth — and as a result, the company’s own — stems from burgeoning relationships.

Such was the case with NeoGenomics, which began leasing just 5,000 square feet in Seagate’s Westlinks project in 2000.

At the same time, Seagate has fostered important, strategic joint ventures with the likes of Barron Collier Cos., of Naples, with whom the company bought the 174,872-square-foot Eastlinks Business Park for $14 million, and TerraCap Management of Bonita Springs, its partner for a time in the 340,335-square-foot Westlinks Business Park.

Seagate bought TerraCap out of the project in 2015 and continues to own it, while the Eastlinks buildings were sold last year for $25 million.

“They’re smart, they think in an entrepreneurial way, they do what they say they’re going to do, and we’ve found them to be honest and hard working,” says Brian Goguen, Barron Collier’s COO.

“Our philosophies are aligned,” he adds. “It’s been a good relationship for us, and as a result, we’ve invested in a number of projects together.”

The duo’s next involvement together will be in a trio of self-storage facilities that Seagate is planning in Estero, Fort Myers and Ave Maria, the planned community in Collier County that Barron Collier is spearheading.

“Ours is a natural fit,” says Goguen of Seagate. “Their skills compliment ours.”

Matt Price says Seagate also is exploring possible retail and “flex” office and industrial development in Ave Maria, as well.

“We try to take people’s needs and build to them, rather than building speculatively,” Matt Price says. “We look for strategic locations and projects. Anyone can buy a piece of ground and then go chasing for tenants. We try, instead, to solve tenants problems.”

One such “problem” could lead Seagate to Tampa and the development of a build-to-suit on 30 acres, though Matt Price stresses the potential project is only in its preliminary stages.

“There’s a trust factor with us because we’ve shown that we’re not out just for ourselves,” says William Price. “We know this is a small market and, as such, it’s important to maintain relationships.”

At the same time, Seagate is forging ahead into new areas, including luxury home remodeling and interior design.

Last year, it launched Theory Design to handle interiors for all of Seagate’s projects and for third-party work.

“A lot of time and energy are put into our floor plans, into how people are going to live in these spaces,” says Nulf. “We design for tomorrow, not for today. You have to be forward thinking, because it’s often a year and a half between when a project is conceived and delivered.”

Likewise, Seagate’s remodeling division has focused primarily on the company’s homes in the Quail West and Estuary Grey Oaks communities, along with third-party custom homes.

“To do a project from A to Z, there are 120 different things to deal with, so you have to have considerable structure and efficiency,” says Nulf, who relocated to Florida from Ohio, where he ran a logistics and trucking company, in 2004.

To maximize both structure and efficiency within Seagate, Nulf has begun conducting bi-weekly training sessions for staff — modeled after clients like Gartner Inc., which requested that training sites be part of their office tenant improvement packages.

“In successful companies, the common link is training,” Nulf says. “Companies today want to train people to be the best they can, so adding training facilities within offices has become a significant piece of (tenant improvement) business for us, and we, in turn, have ramped up internal training.

“Ultimately, this company’s culture comes down largely to an extension of our three personalities,” Nulf says of he and his partners. “And I think we’ve built a team here that’s among the best I have ever seen.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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