After doing a recent seminar in Columbia, South Carolina, I had the opportunity to interview the CEO of another company that is succeeding in the current economy.
I spoke with Ben Arnold, the President of Arnold Companies (arnoldfamilycorp.com). They are commercial real estate developers and a construction company. Ben had started the property management portion of the company in 1994 and Arnold Construction in 1995.
Before forming his companies, Ben’s family had a base of some small properties in the early 90′s. From that, they branched out to multi-family units, office, and industrial buildings. The combined companies now have nearly 50 employees.
Like many companies, the Arnold Companies have gone through some challenges with the economy in the past few years. As Ben told me, “We’ve had some struggles with existing tenants moving out of buildings. We’ve had to re-negotiate some leases like a lot of other landlords around the country.
But, we’ve been able to be flexible, to work with out tenants, and to treat them as if we’re partners – not just landlord versus tenants.”
I asked Ben what he did, in recent years, to keep his attitude positive. He stated, “It was a number of things. I surrounded myself with good people. I also kept my body in shape and I looked into the future. We worked at predicting the cycle and where we are in the cycle. And, knowing that a better day is coming.”
I learned that, at the Arnold Companies, they do some innovative things when it comes to renovating apartment buildings. “Our niche,” related Ben, “is renovating low-income housing in rural communities. What makes us different is that we do it while the tenants are living in the units.
They leave in the morning and they come back at night and we’ve replaced the kitchen cabinets, appliances, and vinyl. And, if we have to carpet and paint, we do that on another day.
It’s really a methodology of moving people around, organizing what they do, and our clients maintain their cash flow while we’re doing the work.”
When I asked Ben for his advice for anyone who is struggling with the current economy, he said, “Don’t lose hope. Surround yourself with good people. And, recognizing opportunities is the key to success. Opportunities go by every day and, if you’re focusing on the negative, or dwelling on what’s going on right this second, you’re missing the opportunities right in front of you.”
Thus, the secret to Ben’s success is that he’s looking forward rather than backwards. I think that’s a very important point for all of us to keep in mind as we develop our own futures.
A Forward-Looking Affirmation
I look forward toward great opportunities.