FirstService Residential Realty Completes Management Buyout

FirstService Residential Realty, a national property management company based in Austin, has been purchased by its executive managers and is changing its name to The Rockbridge Group.
Greg Tolander

Greg Tolander, FSRR

FirstService Residential Realty, a national property management company based in Austin, Texas, has been purchased by its executive managers and is changing its name to The Rockbridge Group.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Greg Tolander, CEO of FSRR, and John Miller, CFO of FSRR, led the managed buyout. FSRR was a subsidiary of FirstService Corp. of Toronto. Plains Capital Bank is the group’s financial partner in the transaction.

He and Miller will retain the same titles. Jim Warren is now COO of multi-family operations and Andrew Hull is COO of single-family operations. Dale West is corporate controller.

Since 2008, FSRR has managed more than 100,000 rental properties in the United States, specializing in multi-family communities and single-family homes. It was the largest single-family, multi-family property and asset management firm in North America. In addition to Texas, FSRR had regional offices in California, Florida and Nevada. The Rockbridge Group will maintain those offices. Tolander told Commercial Property Executive that the firm will focus on its core markets but has also expanded into other markets, including the Chicago metro area, where it manages nearly 150 properties.

Asked why the time was right for a management buyout, Tolander said the firm was transitioning away from servicing real estate owned properties (REOs) back into more traditional property management of multi-family and single-family homes.

“In 2008, we were in a unique position to respond to the demand for property management for REO properties. Never before had banks and GSEs been put in the place of landlord,” he told CPE. “As the housing market improved and the demand for REO property decreased, the time came to restructure the focus of the business back on its roots. The time was perfect for the buyout and both parties were very happy with the outcome.”

 

 

 

Tolander said Rockbridge is on track to significantly expand its service offerings, including acquisition, market and property assessments, and leasing and evictions through to disposition.

“We are excited to create a new path as The Rockbridge Group, leveraging the strong team we have in place who has led us to success,” Tolander said in a news release. “Looking forward, we’re confident our culture of integrity and innovative spirit will continue to fuel our future growth.”

Tolander said the firm’s new name was chosen because the executives “wanted a name that conveyed our company history of adaptability and strength.”

“When we were formed and serviced a brand new market to the industry, we served as a bridge for our clients,” he explained. “We were the bridge that helped make the transition from owner to renter for many foreclosed homeowners. This helped the residents and the banks who now owned the home. As the market changed we remained strong and stable like a rock.”

The firm currently employs 175 people. FSRR moved its headquarters to Austin from Fort Lauderdale in November, 2013, according to the Austin Business Journal. In September, 2012, FirstService merged FirstService Residential Realty, TenantAccess and PropertyAccess, all separate subsidiaries, into one entity that it operated as FirstService Residential Realty. Tolander, who had been president & COO of another FirstService Corp. subsidiary, Field Asset Services, was appointed CEO of FSRR. He had been FAS president & COO from October, 2007, to the merger in September 2012.