Winn Becomes Fortus Property Group’s First CEO
- May 15, 2013
Fortus Property Group gets its first new CEO with the selection of William H. Winn to take on the title as well as that of president. Winn, formerly with real estate company Passco Companies L.L.C., joins Fortus approximately one year after the vertically-integrated retail investment and operating company was introduced as the new incarnation of the real estate investment firm Diversified Equity Investment Corp.
Winn will have his plate full at Fortus, which has historically been a very successful strategic investor of value-add and core-plus retail properties in the Western U.S. “As our clients co-invest with us, we are able to increase our ability and velocity to acquire properties and thereby increase our portfolio from $2 billion to over $3 billion during the next few years,” David Lee, founder of Fortus, told Commercial Property Executive.
The timing for a change at the top was right. Lee had been heading up Fortus but decided to hand over the reins in order to refocus his efforts in a broader way. With Winn at the helm of Fortus, Lee will be free to delve further into his role as chairman of ValueRock Investment Partners, an entity with a diverse platform of both real estate properties and operating companies as part of its investment portfolio. Winn is well equipped to step into Lee’s shoes.
Winn spent 14 years at Passco and spearheaded the conversion of the company’s platform, taking it from a firm with an eye on asset management, leasing and property management, to one with the goal of emerging into a leading player in acquisition and management. He helped increase the company’s portfolio, and guided its expansion into new property types.
It’s a history that dovetails well with Fortus’ goals. The company aims to capitalize on the value-add and core-plus opportunities in the post-downturn market and guide those assets to success through repositioning. “Due to the 2008 recession, many property owners have been under distress and unable to deploy the capital and management expertise to operate their properties effectively,” said Lee. “As a result, there are many opportunities to take ‘under-managed’ properties to their full potential.
Additionally, Fortus has growth on the mind. Under Winn’s direction, the company plans to extend its reach geographically. “We are seeing tenants look at expanding as the economy slowly recovers and retail sales in many categories increase,” Lee added. In certain markets, we are seeing strong employment and population growth which are good drivers for consumer spending.”
And then there is the likelihood of establishing a presence in other sectors of commercial real estate. “Fortus has an institutional quality operating platform that can be replicated across markets and product types,” he concluded. “The Fortus executive team focuses on strategic investments primarily in the retail product type, but with the capability to invest in office and industrial.”
Winn will officially become Fortus’ president and CEO by the end of May.