Ryan Kratz, 37, President, Colliers International, Tampa Bay, Central Florida and Southwest Florida

0 Posted by - October 2, 2013 - Tampa 2013

Learning Leadership

Ryan Kratz believes leadership can be taught. In charge of 165 employees in four offices along the Gulf Coast, he’s formalizing professional development to help pass it on.

After navigating several years through the downturn in investment sales at an independent brokerage firm in Minneapolis, Ryan Kratz was ready for an upward career move. He wanted to run his own brokerage operation. That’s when he met Lee Arnold.

Arnold, the CEO of commercial real estate giant Colliers International Tampa Bay, Central Florida, and Southwest Florida, immediately took an interest in Kratz, and hired him as executive managing director of brokerage and marketing in January 2011. Though the company declines to share revenues, it says it has grown by double digits each year since Kratz was hired.

In January of this year, Kratz was promoted to president, overseeing 165 employees, managing four of Collier’s eight offices in Florida — Orlando, Tampa, Clearwater and Fort Myers — and co-managing the Jacksonville office. Over the past two years, he’s added 28 new brokers to his team.

“I’ve had wonderful training to set the groundwork for being a good leader,” Kratz says. He believes the catalyst to his success, however, is his willingness to listen first and act second. Patience is an important virtue for Kratz, who confesses, “the world doesn’t necessarily move at the speed I want it to.”

Over the last couple of years, Kratz has concentrated on improving his company’s technology and professional development. He’s leveraged iPads to provide brokers with on-the-spot access to marketing materials, presentations and comparison data to help during the point of sale. Kratz has also expanded his marketing team to build a proprietary database, create video market reports, and develop a social media presence.

A firm believer in the value of mentorship, Kratz introduced a more formalized professional development path at the company. He builds teams of junior and seasoned senior brokers so industry knowledge is effectively passed through the ranks.

“There was a lot of fatigue coming out of the downturn,” Kratz says. “People in the industry were tired of how long it lasted.” Both commercial and residential real estate “are still healing,” he adds. “Having youth, energy and optimism around the markets we serve is really important.”

Kratz’s own mentor, Stephen Spinelli, was a co-founder of Jiffy-Lube and is now president of Philadelphia University. “He’s not only wildly successful…he’s found a balance that many people search for,” Kratz says.

He says he spends around 80% to 90% of his time meeting with his employees, clients, and community leaders. “To get on my lunch calendar, it’s probably three to four weeks out.” Kratz tries to make at least one lunch a week with community leaders to learn more about the region and build partnerships.

Kratz sees the near future as optimistic, with apartments and multifamily complexes coming out of the downturn first, and retail following close behind. He also notes an increase in demand for office space, especially in downtown Tampa and Westshore. Colliers has been hired as the preleasing agent for the first office tower built downtown in the last couple decades, Trammell Crow’s 400,000-square-foot office complex at SouthGate. He’s also seen a pick up in the industrial market in Lakeland.

The pipeline of distressed properties has decreased substantially, Kratz says, and his business has transitioned back to leasing and managing for third parties, rather than lenders.

Kratz urges decision makers of growing businesses in the area to begin looking at buying or renting new space immediately. “Now is not the time to be on the fence,” he says. “The picture that has emerged likely points to higher and higher prices for real estate.”

— Traci McMillan Beach

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