This month’s Altus Insight has a different tone and feel to it. We are not epidemiologists, and it doesn’t yet seem appropriate to dive into parsing and analyzing decisions being made that are impacting, and will continue to impact, our economic realities. Rather, we decided to have our Altus team members provide some personal perspective on health and economic uncertainties, and their feelings on the current state of things. The Insight starts off with some prose from our Executive Chairman, Mark Nelson, and transitions into thoughts and musings from our team members.
Please stay safe and healthy out there, and know that our door is always open…
From as far back as I can remember, I have spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about you, caring for you, and looking forward to your coming. Often, I have subordinated the needs of others, including your father, the Now, and your grandfather, the Past, in the interest of You.
I believe in You. Always have, always will.
One never knows exactly what You will look like, how and why You materialize, and yet You have proven time and time again just how resilient You are. You evolve, and along with your father, force our world to take inventory to assess what really matters, and ultimately provide guidance on what to do next.
As your father actualizes into much human despair, I walk hand and hand with Him and the challenges and opportunities he presents. In honor of You.
With firm Belief,
Mark Nelson- Executive Chairman
“On Friday (March 13th) I was standing on top of an old pecan processing plant staring across the railroad tracks at downtown San Antonio, trying to figure out how to quantify our audacious QOZ redevelopment plan for the property. On Monday two of our team members entered shelter in place. On Tuesday the rest of our California team was locked down as well. The speed at which our world changed was mind boggling. The changes continue almost daily. Humans aren’t built to be able process change this quickly, but I have been really proud of the way the entire team has responded by focusing on solutions. Speaking for myself, it doesn’t mean there hasn’t been moments of fear or anxiety, but there is also an underlying deep resolve. I am not worried about the virus on my own behalf, but my wife is very concerned, and so of course I fall in line. But I am acutely aware that millions of lives are being completely turned upside down economically, psychologically, and emotionally. I feel impacted on three different levels:
- The most important from Altus’s perspective is regarding the investments themselves. Very few investments will be spared impact, but how do we limit that impact?
- The second is the impact on the operating business. Revenue and cashflow basically turned off overnight, though the responsibilities did not. We need to not only ensure our survival, but also make certain that we are in position to be able to aggressively offer opportunities to our investors on the other side of this. Taking advantage of the situation is how we can all recover from the losses.
- Lastly is the impact to my personal life and finances. Locked at home with poor internet and three small kids running around in the background probably would have driven me over the edge before. Now it is minor inconvenience compared to other impacts to our family’s lives and the lives of so many others.
I have no idea how this all ends, but there will definitely be winners and losers coming out the other side. I plan on our investors, Altus, and my family being among the winners. And if not, at the very least I am going to go down swinging.”
Forrest Jinks- CEO
“The very nature of my work, accounting, means that I am fairly disconnected from the day-to-day reality of the lives of our tenants. And yet, we are all going through this craziness together. I feel much more connected to people across the world knowing we have this common, albeit, scary experience. I am comforted and inspired by the outpouring of support around me, from my sewing friends who spent the weekend making masks, to my medical friends sharing the latest research, to our many business partners who have quickly summarized the CARES act and offered to help Altus, our vendors, borrowers, and tenants in taking action quickly to get through this thing with as much grace as possible.
Although I am deeply saddened by the suffering this virus has created, I believe that when we get to the other side of this (and yes, this too shall pass), we’ll realize that it has provided many important lessons: Life can change in an instant. Be grateful for the little things. We are all deeply connected. And although I wouldn’t have picked a deadly virus to teach us these lessons, I am grateful for them nonetheless.”
Amy Grams- Controller
“If I have one enduring lesson/memory from the abrupt invasion of COVID-19 into our lives and all of its subsequent effects, I believe it will be this: There’s an awful lot we take for granted in our everyday lives, perhaps for no other reason than those aspects of life have been with us, without fail, for as long as we can remember. Visiting family members and friends whenever we’d like? Going out for dinner when the mood strikes us? Going to the grocery store and picking up whatever we need in that present moment, without a thought to how it got there? Or simply having an office to work in, or a job to go to? Many who rarely, if ever, considered these privileges a luxury are now thinking how nice it’d be to have them again, and to have them without fear of bringing harm to ourselves or others. With the upheaval in our daily lives there comes, as it often does, fear. Fear can motivate and fear can paralyze. As I reflect on what I may have taken for granted in my Altus career life, I am so appreciative that we have a team ready and willing to do all we can for those who depend on us, despite the challenges and concerns that could lay ahead. I’m grateful to be a part of that team.”
Andy Eicher- Director of Acquisitions
“In times of market stability and upward economic trajectory, everyone is an investing expert. Up until a black swan event occurs and brings upon uncertainty and confusion, many flaws and indiscretions are often overlooked and brushed aside in the name of profit and earnings. I joined Altus a year ago because I truly believed that the moral compass of not just the CEO, but the entire organization was focused on doing things the right way while maintaining integrity and transparency. We are now experiencing times in which we will begin to see the separation of those organizations that are propped up on falsehoods versus those that are guided by solid principles with the greater good in mind. If there is one thing that has further solidified for me during this unfortunate time, it’s that my initial intuition about the moral compass of Altus is accurate, and it’s demonstrated by how we treat our team members and investors alike. We may not make all the right moves while guiding through the fog, but I can assure you that our intentions and actions will always be based on morality and thoughtful strategy.
My heart bleeds for all those affected by these trying times, and I only hope that we are able to mitigate as much life loss as possible. Hold on to your loved ones tightly and appreciate these times in which we are all growing closer and stronger. I give thanks to all our investors for hanging in there with us. I am also proud of all our team members, and confident that we will pull through this with increasing momentum coming out the other side of this downturn.”
Chad Richards- Director of Investor Relations & Business Development
“I took a few days to get away from home, personally concerned that my thoughts of the Corvid-19 are not realistic. I concern myself with the portfolio and the performance factors of our properties and how we are going to continue to operate productively. The impact of the virus has for some reason not emotionally/mentally hit me yet. Some days I’m deeply affected as I hear of another death or illness, but then my thoughts go back to what I need to get done next. I want to stay positive and keep all the property managers focused on what needs to be done, rather than dwelling on the worst outcomes, which in some cases affects lives in unimaginable ways. I react to employees as though there is no concern and I am questioning myself, is this is right? The one thing that has made me look at things differently is my interactions with everyone. I now find myself looking at people in a different way. I’m more receptive in considering their actions and movements when I hear what seems to be increased worry on their minds. I guess all in all I have become more compassionate. We never know what is really going on with people and how these uncertainties are changing their lives.”
Joan Gomez- Asset Manager
“It is striking the speed at which things can change. While the Coronavirus had been around for a couple months, spreading first through Asia and Europe, it was not at all evident how much our lives and businesses would be affected. We all have been whipsawed by both the economic and health consequences of this event. I’ve been thinking it must have been similar to the other uncertain times in history … not knowing how the world would change … or if you are safe … or how your family and love ones would be affected. Now into our second week of sheltering, it seems the un-normal is becoming normal. The Altus team has settled into our routines, starting each morning with an “all hands” call. We work each day solving problems – some the same as before, some new, and some out of a science fiction movie. But as each day goes by there is a sense that this will pass and normalcy will return. As stewards of real estate portfolios, we take upon us the obligation to minimize the impact of these world events and to look for new opportunities to create value, while recognizing our moral responsibilities to each of our stakeholders and the community at large. All the while, we look forward to the day when we can once again meet for coffee or share a good meal, while recollecting about this very strange year that was 2020.”
Kent Borowick- VP of Asset Optimization
“My husband and I are lucky because we’re both still working. My husband is a plumber and he goes to hardware stores to pick up supplies and various sundries that he needs for jobs. Since the Coronavirus hit he has had an increasing amount of men approach him and ask him if he knows where they can find work or if he has any work that he can give them. To me that’s heartbreaking.
I think that if you are positioned well you can make a lot of money during a downturn, and I believe that Altus will ultimately benefit during this period, which I anticipate will be brief. Our company has great leadership and a strong track record of survival and success in trying times. I believe we will continue to prosper.”
Sarah Caumont-Gibson- Senior Accountant
“The longer the shelter in place order goes on, the more thankful I am being able to stay home and continue working. Having previously worked in a senior community, I would not have had the option. None of us are certain what impact this will have on our company and the investments. We are bracing for impact, and trying to mitigate as much risk as possible. I think our team has done a great job staying connected and communicating even though we are not altogether. There is a quote going around social media that says our grandfathers were asked to fight for our country and we’re being asked to stay home and watch tv. For some this is true, yet many people are complaining about staying home while so many are dying. People in the medical field are putting their lives in danger just to save others. Usually being away from my boyfriend, my friends and being stuck with my parents would make me insane, but I am staying home to stay safe and if it all goes right, it will be over soon.”
Lauren Lacoste- Office Administrator
“As a 20 year old putting himself through college with nothing to my name but a truck, a month to month apartment lease, and the responsibility to feed and provide shelter for my wife and son, I could come to the conclusion that the situation that we are all currently in regarding COVID-19 can potentially put me a step back in life. It most certainly might. I in no way want to diminish the devastating impact COVID-19 can have on someone’s health and I believe everyone should take precautions. But as far as how this situation fits into the big picture of my life, I am excited that this came at the time that it did because I have yet to experience a volatile market. Being 20 years old during these times means I get to take what I learn from this and apply to the next 50-60 years of my life. Everywhere there are businesses that are being hit hard and I don’t believe that we will be able to entirely dodge the hits that are coming. But I am so pumped to be a part of a team led by extraordinary leaders who excel at what they do. These next coming months I am looking forward to being a small part in an even bigger process. I can only imagine the time sensitive meetings, the urgent deadlines, and the new opportunities that will come from this situation. I will be able to see leaders think and act strategically and tactfully. Truthfully, I don’t know what to expect from this other than the unexpected. I think the best-case scenario is that Altus not only weathers the storm but comes out of it better than before, whether it be financially or any other aspect for that matter. The worst case scenario is that I lose my job, but I’m optimistic that wont happen. A quote that keeps me hopeful during this tough time is “Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors”.
Sebastian Smith- Intern Extraordinaire
We collectively at Altus truly value the community we have built and we appreciate each and every one of you. These are unnerving times we face, but with a continued effort towards the greater good, we will all come out of this with new perspective and fresh ambitions. Please stay safe and healthy during these times, give your loved ones a squeeze, and know that we will get through this with the help from one another.
Much Appreciation and Warmest Regards,
The Entire Altus Team