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Deep Roots: Q&A with Molly Ryan Carson

Screen Shot 2013-07-26 at 11.56.45 AMMolly Ryan Carson looks as comfortable professionally dressed, networking with clients, as she does donning a T-shirt, baseball cap and sweat pants volunteering her time for a community project.
She is active in several industry groups, including Valley Partnership, ULI and ICSC; sits on various boards, and is adept with a shovel or paint brush.
With more than a decade of experience as a developer and property manager, Carson (her married name) is the face in the Valley of Ryan Companies U.S., a firm her great-grandfather, James Henry Ryan, founded in 1938 in Minneapolis.
As Vice President of Development, she is responsible for site selection and acquisition, municipal use permits and approvals, design and construction coordination, financial packaging and
lease or sale negotiation. As Ryan Companies celebrates its 75th anniversary — almost two decades in Arizona — Molly Ryan Carson shared her thoughts with AZRE magazine.

Q: As a part of the Ryan namesake, how important is that sense of family pride?

A: I am extremely proud to be a Ryan, but equally proud to be a part of the Ryan Companies family. Both allow and expect a great deal from you, but the reward of being part of something much bigger than yourself is far worth it.

Q: Do you feel a bit of pressure carrying on the family name?

A: The last name comes with an added sense of pressure, but a great kind of pressure. The founders of this company created a culture of doing the right thing and that is what we all strive to do each and every day.

Q: You are very visible in Valley commercial real estate circles, including networking events and philanthropic projects. I assume that’s also a great sense of pride?

A: Absolutely. I find it to be a privilege as well as a responsibility to become involved in your greater community. We are very fortunate to live in a world that allows us many freedoms and opportunities. With those benefits comes a responsibility to make this world a better place for all.

Q: How do you successfully balance work and family?

A: I am laughing at the question. Balance is the key word. I asked my dad this very same question about eight years ago, after a particularly rough day — we all have them — where you feel like you’ve failed in every aspect. He smiled and said, “It’s balancing marbles on a plate. There will certainly be things that move around, just make sure the big marbles stay on. And ask for help when you need it.”

Q: What are your recollections of growing up in the Ryan family?

A: I feel very blessed growing up with the family I have. Our home was one of support, love, faith, laughter, fun and hard work. We spent a great deal of time together as a family — lots of family nights, family trips, etc.  We ate dinner together nearly every night (only excuse to miss were sport commitments), which is a rule in our family now. I am the oldest of eight, so I don’t have many quiet memories. My parents worked to instill a strong set of values within us: love each other, love God and always do the right thing. Share your blessings, ask for help when you need it, work hard, play hard. Your family will always be there for you. We have a great loving support system as a result. I can only hope my children feel the same when they are asked this question someday.

Q: How long has the Valley been your home?

A: Me, my husband Mike, and our three kids, Trinity (9), Marley (7) and Seamus (4), have called the Valley our home for three years. Moving from Minneapolis, Phoenix was quite a change, with almost the exact opposite climate. We have found many wonderful people in this community. From a business standpoint, opportunities seem endless, if you are willing to work hard for them. I have met a great deal of smart, talented individuals within the industry who want to see Arizona grow and thrive as much as I do.

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Ryan Companies: "Building Lasting Relationships"

For 75 years, Ryan Companies U.S., Inc. has been “building lasting relationships,” as the company motto proclaims.
The Phoenix office, a year shy of celebrating two decades in Arizona, has made its own footprint on the state’s development landscape, building its own lasting relationships.
Ryan opened shop in Phoenix in 1994 to coordinate the construction of Target stores throughout the state. It is now a diverse company with approximately 80 employees in Arizona and services that include construction, development and property management. The Phoenix office is led by President/Southwest John Strittmatter, and Vice President of Development Molly Ryan Carson, whose great-grandfather, James Henry Ryan, founded the company in 1938 in Minneapolis.
“Providing great customer service to our clients is the key to Ryan Companies,” says Todd Holzer, a Ryan vice president. “Everyone in the company, no matter what level you might be, lives by the company motto and puts a priority on maintaining relationships. By being a fully integrated company that can develop, build and manage commercial real estate for both ourselves and our clients, we have the flexibility and expertise to touch real estate in many ways.
“We also give back to the community in many ways,” Holzer adds. “I have made it a core principal in my work at Ryan and in my personal life to commit my time and money to charitable and trade organizations.”
Screen Shot 2013-07-26 at 11.51.16 AMRyan Companies has completed more than 18 MSF of development and construction projects over the past 19 years for customers such as Del Webb, KayBee Toys, NCS, Target, Honeywell, DMB, Dial Corp., Motorola, Edwards Jones, Maricopa County, the General Services Administration/FBI, Northern Arizona University, Avnet and UniSource.
“We have been doing business with Ryan Companies for about 10 years now and the relationship we have with them is exceptional,” says Robert Gracz, Vice President of Corporate Real Estate for Avnet. “John Strittmatter is one of the most professional men of integrity I know in our industry. Most impressive about his team is how they exemplify John himself, everyone in Ryan I meet.
“They truly live and work by their tag line of building relationships,” Gracz adds. “It’s not about now, but more about the long-term relationship on how they operate. I can tell you that John has stood by every commitment and then some he or his team has ever committed to me, and I assure they were some difficult ones. Yet he stood there honorably honoring his commitments. There is no better way to build relationships than that … people you can trust.”
The Phoenix office also supports professional and industry organizations such as Valley Partnership, Arizona Builders’ Alliance, NAIOP, CoreNet, ULI and BOMA. Charitable work includes supporting local nonprofits such as the Arizona Science Center, Childhelp, Brophy College Prep, St. Francis Prep, Junior Achievement of Arizona, Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Central Arizona, the Phoenix Symphony and Valley of the Sun United Way.

Construction

While Ryan is unique in the diversity of services it provides, its construction group provides services on a diverse range of product types as well. The group can be characterized by versatility, flexibility and high performance. Ryan’s construction group provides preconstruction and construction services on product types including office, industrial, tenant improvements, mission critical, education, healthcare, hospitality, recreation/sports facilities and even roads/infrastructure.
“We have our core business sectors, but based on relationships, our clients take us into new areas,” says Steve Jordan, Director of Construction Services. “We have a versatile group of construction professionals with well-rounded talent to assist with design and to build fantastic projects. We enjoy having involvement from the early stages of the projects, to provide value and expertise through the process to achieve our clients’ objectives.
“Our construction professionals look forward to the challenges and diversity that different product types can bring,” Jordan adds. “Those challenges are multifaceted — whether it’s the complex engineering and detailed nature of a data center or the weather variations that can impact a tight schedule at NAU, our team always rises to the occasion to successful completion for our clients.”
Building lasting relationships also extends to the subcontractors with whom Ryan works. Otis Elevator Co. has been doing business with Ryan Companies in Arizona since it first entered the market. More notably, Otis Elevator and Ryan Companies together built the Phelps Dodge Tower (One North Central) and the UniSource Headquarters in Tucson.
“Ryan Companies is one of the most professional and long standing developers/property managers in this market,” says Brian Skoczylas, Territory Manager for Otis. “We share that kindred attitude and look forward to many more years of sharing the role of building Arizona.”

Property management

While Ryan’s more visible reputation centers around development/construction, its Real Estate Management group has quietly developed a solid niche in the marketplace. More than 83% of Ryan’s REM business is non-Ryan owned that it manages for third party clients such as Mitsubishi Estate of New York, ASB Capital Management, Artis REIT, Fort Properties, UniSource and Behringer-Harvard.
“Our client relationships are long term, many in excess of 10 to 15 years, which have consistently resulted in expanded opportunities across the country for all of the Ryan disciplines,” says Anna Riley, Regional Director of Management. “Our approach to real estate management is organizationally and culturally comprehensive. Our managers are influenced by our internal areas of expertise through their involvement in development, design and construction processes, thereby allowing them a broader perspective as REM takes on the responsibilities of operations, lease up and financial management.
“We oversee the typical industry day-to-day operations. However, our expanded approach is to assess and identify opportunities and to drive the enhancement of asset value. Ryan REM has developed effective strategies for providing asset level intelligence at the pre-acquisition and through the ownership phases with operational due-diligence inspections, transition planning, repositioning, rebranding and lease up coordination. Our management teams align closely with our clients in understanding their investment objectives and we truly partner in achieving them.”
Ryan is culturally committed to building lasting relationships — it isn’t just a tagline, Riley says.
“It is demonstrated in our focus on the development of our people, our overt outreach into our communities and our loyalty to our clients, brokers and service providers,” she says. “When I joined Ryan more than 7 years ago, my role was to run a management business. As I began to experience the Ryan culture, my increased sensitivity to the relationship role and its responsibilities have shaped me both personally and professionally.
“I value the opportunities that I have to mentor my group, to effect results for our clients and to conduct business in a fashion that is responsible to our communities. Ryan’s culture has been a great fit.”
The same holds true for the property management subcontractors.
“Our relationship with Ryan Companies is built on mutual respect with a common goal,” says Mischelle Arreca, Director of Business Development for Caretaker Landscape. “We share in our commitment to create sustainable environments that are both cost effective and aesthetically pleasing.
“We partner to insure they have efficient outdoor water use, healthy and vibrant plants, properly maintained plant material and a budget-conscious future landscape plan. We value our relationship with Ryan Companies because they value their partners.”