Zach Batson’s fascination with real estate started when he was a kid. He cut his teeth in the industry when he was in high school, working at one of Kansas City’s oldest commercial real estate firms. That experience only deepened his interest in the profession.
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After earning degrees in economics and finance, he launched his professional real estate career, absorbing everything he could about the industry: accounting, property management, construction management, investment analysis and even deal syndication.
Crashing in on Opportunity
Then the Great Recession hit, and Batson saw an opportunity as the real estate market crashed.
“At the time,” he said, “there really were a lot of opportunities for good management, because as investments were getting dicey, as the market was getting more negative, people were looking for a solution.”
His solution was to launch Asset Management Group in 2008. The company syndicates and manages commercial real estate investments.
Now 10 years old, Asset Management Group provides full-service management to retail centers, office buildings, warehouses and multifamily apartment complexes. It has 4 million square feet of commercial real estate under management and 2,250 family units. The company is consistently named as one of the top commercial property management firms in Kansas City.
“The goal is to make those investments as good as they can be, take good care of the people who put the money in and take good care of the people who rent space from us,” Batson said. “We’re going to take care of everything from collecting rent, to making sure the parking lot is salted and the windows are shiny, to taking care of the grass, making sure the property is insured and the taxes are paid—everything that surrounds that investment, our firm is going to take care of and you can relax knowing that someone is watching out for and taking care of your investment.”
Investing in People
From his earliest days in real estate, Batson observed that more transparency was needed. When he started Asset Management Group, he wanted to create a company that was relationship-driven and emphasized open communication.
“It seemed to me there wasn’t a significant amount of transparency in the reporting and in the way the investments were managed,” Batson said. “. . . the thrust of getting started was to see if investors would change who they were using based on service delivery that includes transparency and open communication. I think we’ve proven that that’s viable.”
To achieve that kind of culture, Batson hires people with strong customer service skills and teaches them real estate.
“We’ve taken some risks on who we hire, how we put our teams together,” he said. “I think we’ve been smart about hiring people that we can train in real estate. They come in Day 1 and are just good people. People you’d want to go have a cup of coffee with and chat about their family. Those are the people we want to hire.”
Partners in Growth
Batson attributes much of Asset Management’s Growth to their partnership with Equity Bank.
“We’ve worked with Equity Bank for almost 10 years now,” he said. “They provided tools early on that were geared toward companies much bigger than ours, and it allowed us to compete against some firms that at the time were significantly bigger than us. It was a little unusual that a firm our size had access to some of these tools.”
In addition, Batson said, Equity Bank understands the vision of Asset Management Group and has provided “great counsel, great advice.”
“We do business on a number of different levels,” he said. “We borrow money, they handle our treasury, and we’ve managed some real estate for them. They’re looking out for opportunities for us and, of course, we’re looking out for opportunities for them. Those are the kinds of partners we like to have. This business is relationship-based for us, and Equity Bank has been one of those relationships that’s been very fruitful for us.”