Shopping Center Business

OCT 2018

Shopping Center Business is the leading monthly business magazine for the retail real estate industry.

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HUTTON 70 • SHOPPING CENTER BUSINESS • October 2018 and pursuing what she believed to be in- evitable approvals for ground up stores. In the second year, the deals started getting approved, and they came quickly due to the volume of sites that were being sub- mitted. Hutton developed 31 stores for Dollar General her second year, then 71 the third year and 71 again the fourth year. Most of the stores were developed and built within 60 days. "I worked seven days a week for many months because I wanted to be the best, and I didn't know any better. The level of customer service was of utmost impor- tance to me. Communicating and chal- lenging everyone around me to set the same example was necessary to be part of the team. Constantly getting deals in the pipeline and then seeing those deals result in store openings was very gratifying and fulfilling," says Hutton. "In addition, we budgeted, designed, managed and built the stores in multiple states, so looking back, it was a lot to manage." With great results came more oppor- tunity, and Dollar General expanded Hutton's territory from one state to sev- en, allowing her to also do some build- to-suit development. Realizing the stores were being sold in the single tenant net lease market created another learning curve, and Hutton began holding some of her developments, while simultaneous- ly selling some stores that the company developed. In 2001, Dollar General's fee program came to an end and Hutton was without a job. She scrambled to find work and found a partner in Family Dollar, who was creating a fee program and eventu- ally a build-to-suit development program. Hutton remained a preferred developer of Family Dollar for 13 years. In 2003, Hutton also developed a relationship with a growing retailer, O'Reilly Auto Parts. Hutton has developed over 993 stores for these three retailers. In addition, the com- pany has developed several freestanding stores and restaurants for other retailers, including Walmart, Save-A-Lot, Tractor Supply, Taco Bell, Wendy's, Chick-fil-A, Aspen Dental, Kays and Starbucks Coffee to name a few. The company developed 43 stores for Walmart Neighborhood Market from 2013 to 2016, the most ever developed and constructed simultaneous- ly in the history of Walmart. For the past 10 years, Hutton has been in expansion mode, in part because of demand for single tenant net lease prop- erties growing during and after the reces- sion. Dollar stores and auto services re- tailers were among the company's fastest growing clients, which allowed Hutton to all but skip the Great Recession. In this time of growth, people have been a big focus for Hutton, and finding the right people with relevant experience to fill the right roles for a company that has transitioned from a small, entrepreneur- ial team to one of the nation's largest de- velopers has been a learning experience. Along the way, Karen Hutton figured out that if she was going to grow — and grow right — she could not perform every role herself and oversee every aspect of the company. "As one can imagine, the company ex- perienced growing pains along the way," says Hutton. "We had a passionate team with little experience in managing people and processes. I've always been a worker, so I rolled up my sleeves and did what- ever it took to get the job done, but not everyone was suited to work in that envi- ronment. A growing company has to have a variety of mindsets to thrive, which we now have, but the lack of management skills — I ultimately came to understand this was missing, and I began the search to bring in strong leadership to help stabilize the growth and the team, so we could take the company to the next level." Hutton needed experience and skills that could ultimately scale with her now sizable organization. As a result, Hutton has been putting together an impressive team of retail development, real estate and finance experience to fill gaps and strengthen the organization. More recent- ly, Hutton has hired top level executives to help the company's corporate structure, knowledge and culture. To assist in the company's leadership, Hutton drafted Matt Partridge, who is now chief operating officer and chief fi- nancial officer for the company. Partridge is the former CFO of Agree Realty Cor- poration, a publicly traded real estate in- vestment trust (REIT), and before that, he held multiple positions with Pebblebrook Hotel Trust and Phillips Edison & Com- pany. His experience with high-growth companies has allowed him to apply a complementary skillset to the leadership at Hutton. In addition to Partridge, the company's leadership team also includes Ben Harp- er, who Hutton hired as General Counsel to oversee all aspects of company's legal and compliance activities. Harper previ- ously worked in varying roles with a na- tional law firm advising public and private Hutton developed 43 stores for Walmart from 2013 to 2016 — the most ever developed and constructed simultaneously for Walmart. Pictured is a Walmart Neighborhood Market Hutton developed in Statesboro, Georgia.

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