The year ahead for Nevada shows no signs of slowing in terms of economic and commercial growth. The business statewide climate continues to provide people with good ideas a fertile matrix for the incubation of those ideas. Here’s a look at just some of the people and companies poised to make a mark in 2000.
The Fertitta Family, Fertitta Enterprises
Las Vegas-based Station Casinos, of which the Fertitta family constitutes the largest shareholder, has shown a capacity to expand successfully into other gaming markets such as St. Louis and Kansas City. However, Station may be poised to strike again both at home and outside Nevada. While many casino operators were fretting about the damage California’s Proposition 5 — which allows expanded tribal gaming in that state—might do to Nevada’s tourism markets, Station was taking a more proactive approach to the issue.
Station became the first casino developer to recognize opportunity in California when it signed an agreement with the United Auburn Indian Community to build a $100 million complex with gaming, restaurants and entertainment venues on land just outside Sacramento. Though the project has hit some snags — a court challenge to Prop 5 and local opposition to the presence of a 49-acre gaming facility — Station officials have said they anticipate opening the property in 2002. But Station isn’t just looking outside Nevada to grow its operations; the company recently purchased from Santa Fe Gaming Corp. a 40-acre site near its Sunset Station property in Henderson.
This is likely to comprise a year of corporate diversification for the Fertitta family as well. Fertitta Enterprises purchased Gordon Biersch Brewing Co. in 1996 and moved the company’s headquarters from Palo Alto, Calif. to Las Vegas. After selling the brewery’s 12 microbrew restaurants in 1999 to Big River Breweries of Chattanooga, Tenn., spokespeople of Fertitta Enterprises outlined company plans to focus on becoming beer barons, so to speak. The deal will allow the company’s microbrewery to expand production of its bottled beer line, currently sold in Nevada, California, Washington, Arizona and Hawaii.
Washington Mutual, Inc.
Though Seattle-based Washington Mutual, Inc. already possesses a Reno presence, the bank announced plans for entering the Southern Nevada market for the first time in 2000 —with a bang. Washington Mutual will arrive in Las Vegas in April of this year, when it opens the first of 20 financial centers it plans to open in the Las Vegas Valley. The banking company, the nation’s eighth largest, will create about 200 new jobs in Southern Nevada. It will also debut what company officials say is a new retail banking concept for its branches, the flagship of which will be situated at West Charleston and Rampart boulevards in the Summerlin area.
Washington Mutual consulted with an Ohio-based design company in developing ideas for its new financial centers. The branches will offer customers a retail store atmosphere, with customer service representatives dressed in casual attire and children’s play areas, called WAMU kids. Eventually, the sites will include retail sales areas stocked with consumer-oriented financial products such as software, books and magazines designed to help customers plan their financial goals.
Washington Mutual’s financial centers aren’t the only aspect of the company undergoing modification. Its decision to rapidly penetrate Southern Nevada represents part of a strategic plan for the company. By opening a large number of branches at one time in a manner akin to franchise openings, Washington Mutual hopes to gain market share quickly while maximizing marketing and other start-up costs. Its brisk growth in Las Vegas in 2000 characterizes Washington Mutual’s expansion pace in recent years: it has grown by completing 26 acquisitions since 1983. It also adds 1,000 customers a day to its free online banking service, which it introduced last February.
Michael Beardslee, Michael Marriott
An information technology relationship established in Saudi Arabia in 1992 has yielded a global technology company based in Las Vegas. At a time when Southern Nevada business and government leaders seem desperate to attract legitimate high-tech firms, Beardslee’s and Marriott’s IT Strategies International Corporation represents a valuable commodity. Through IT Strategies International, the two partners are helping to focus efforts on bringing more technology firms to Las Vegas. “We chose Las Vegas because of its business climate,” Marriott said. “We knew it was a booming place and that very little competition existed here.” IT Strategies has compiled a client roster that includes the cities of Las Vegas and Henderson, as well as Nevada Power Co., Mirage Resorts, Clark County and the Las Vegas Valley Water District.
The local company also recently established if Strategies Europe, with offices in London, its first endeavor on that continent. In Europe, as in America, the company provides consulting for private companies and public entities in need of specialized information technology skills or in-house staff augmentation to take strategic advantage of information systems.
Added growth for 2000 is on Beardslee’s and Marriott’s agenda. They estimate their firm will expand revenue 20 percent and boost its number of computer consultants from 20 to 30 in 2000. The two also harbor a long-term desire to assist in the creation of a technology hub in Las Vegas; they’ve met with several local government officials to foster that objective. “We want other technology companies to appreciate the goodness Southern Nevada has to offer to their companies and employees,” Marriott noted. “We’re a local success story, and we hope others will follow suit to enjoy the benefits of growing a business in Las Vegas.”
Martin MacFarland was promoted to his new post as principal and president ofTrammell Crow’s Nevada offices for the new outlook he could bring to the firm’s statewide operations. MacFarland’s “global view” of real estate’s components, as well as his varied experiences and capabilities — he’s served in office development, corporate services and as a real estate attorney — will constitute a key resource for the company as it expands its Nevada presence in 2000 and beyond.
In the last few years, Trammell Crow has established a well-known brand in the Reno/Sparks area, with a 5.5 million-square-foot management portfolio and numerous development deals. However, 2000 will mark the year the firm’s focus assumes a new direction under the leadership of McFarland, who comes to Nevada from the commercial real estate services company’s Atlanta offices, where he was senior vice president. MacFarland has outlined ambitious objectives for the corning year and beyond.
Though Trammell Crow represents one of Northern Nevada’s largest commercial real estate services firms, the company in recent years hasn’t maintained a significant client portfolio in Southern Nevada. That’s about to change. Trammell Crow was recently awarded two new property management contracts, bringing the firm’s total Las Vegas area management portfolio up to about 500,000 square feet — just under 10 percent of the firm’s Northern Nevada portfolio. But MacFarland envisions a future in which Trammell Crow’s Southern Nevada operations are comparable in scope to its Reno/Sparks business. Trammell Crow’s five lines of service include property management, real estate development, corporate services/asset management, brokerage and retail services; currently, the company only offers property management duties in Southern Nevada. That also will begin to change in 2000.
“Las Vegas is expected to be the number-two market for job growth in the next year,” MacFarland noted. “Trammell Crow is the second largest real estate company in the world, and we want to mirror Las Vegas’ growth. Our full-service capabilities will allow us to be all things to all people.” MacFarland’s guidance will play an instrumental role in bringing Trammell Crow the strong statewide presence the company seeks, so it’s fortunate that he seems internally driven to achieve those corporate objectives. “I’m only successful if we bring our Las Vegas operations to a level similar to that of our Reno operations,” MacFarland noted.
RMI Management, LLC Realty Management, Inc.
RMI Management, LLC, a Southern Nevada homeowners association (HOA) management company, has doubled in size every year for the past three years, and plans to sustain that growth level in 2000 and beyond, according to Kevin Wallace, president of RMI Management’s HOA division. The company is also expanding on a national level, recently acquiring a Dallas-based management corporation and looking at potential acquisitions in the Phoenix and Denver markets in 2000. Accommodating such growth means new digs for RMI’s headquarters, which will assume residence in a 20,000-square-foot building in the Hughes Airport Center.
RMI Management also plans to remain on the cutting edge in terms of the ways residential management firms take advantage of technology. The firm employs a full-time information systems specialist who developed an in-house computerized management system. The system tracks essential management functions, facilitates processes and logs phone calls. It also contains all information pertaining to specific associations, including their meeting dates, vendor contacts and letters sent. “We are aggressively adding technology to keep our competitive advantage,” stated Wallace.
RMI Management, LLC falls under the umbrella of Realty Management, Inc., a Las Vegas-based company specializing in residential real estate management. RMI was established in 1990 by Dan Shaw, Ken Woolley, Bruce Monzulla and Scott Seegmiller; the HOA division was added in 1993. The firm’s apartment management division manages more than 10,000 apartments in five states, and the HOA division manages or provides consulting services to more than 80 associations of more than 18,000 units, either existing or under construction. RMI employs more than 400 people company-wide, primarily in the Las Vegas area.
Del Mar Mortgage
Six years after its founding as Shustek Investments, Las Vegas-based Del Mar Mortgage has evolved into one of the largest private mortgage companies in the nation. The company claims more than 4,500 investors and nearly $200 million in outstanding loans. It has made loans on more than 4,500 real estate properties, facilitated more than $1 billion in transactions and has operated since its inception without a loss to any of its investors.
Del Mar executives have revealed plans to expand outside Nevada in 2000. Michael V. Shustek, founder of the mortgage company, recently negotiated the acquisition of Del Mar by Sunderland Corp., a public company for which Shustek serves as chairman and CEO. As a subsidiary of Sunderland Corp., Del Mar is slated to go public in the near future. According to Shustek, Del Mar anticipates spending 2000 entering other regions via merger and acquisition. He notes the firm’s objective entails opening offices in California and Arizona“ immediately,” as well as lending more than $1 billion a year by 2003.
“We have always strived to be an innovative company that provides a safe investment opportunity to our investors while being an effective provider of capital to the real estate development community,” Shustek noted.- The company’s contributions don’t end with the real estate community, however; for the last four years, Del Mar has sponsored the Del Mar Nevada Senior Games, designed to encourage those better than 50 years of age to remain active and enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Shustek recently announced that the firm committed to another five years of title sponsorship, with increasing funds each year.
Silver State Bank
Established in 1996 as part of a wave of new community banks, Henderson-based Silver State Bank has built assets of more than $160 million. Silver State Bank has
grown to include four branches in the Las Vegas Valley, as well as loan production offices in Reno and Boise, Idaho. Last year was one of abundant growth for the NASDAQ-traded bank in a variety of ways. For example, the Small Business Administration (SBA) named Silver State Bank its top lender out of about 40 statewide. From October 1, 1998 to September 30, 1999, Silver State Bank funded loans totaling nearly $19 million, compared to just $3 million in the previous 12 months.
Management’s objectives revolve around maximizing growth in the next year as well. Their philosophy: though growth has costs, growth is currently more important than earnings. Thus, Silver State Bank’s expansion is set to continue throughout 2000. The bank plans to open a Boulder City branch around the first of the year. In addition, the company anticipates completion this summer on offices located at Sunset and Green Valley Parkway. Also on the agenda for 2000: the opening of branch offices in northwest and southwest Las Vegas, bringing the bank’s Southern Nevada total to eight locations.
In December 1998, the SBA awarded Preferred Lender Status to Silver State Bank, enabling the company to make SBA loans subject only to a brief eligibility review. The
status also allows Silver State Bank to guarantee a 24-hour turnaround time on loan approvals. Executives at the bank note their goals in 2000 include continuing to be “the premier SBA lender in Nevada.”
Few telecommunications companies are adding customers as quickly as Sprint PCS. The company, which began serving Southern Nevada in October1998, ended the third quarter with nearly 4.7 million customers nationwide, more than two-and-a-half times the number it had a year earlier. Sprint PCS added 720,000 new customers nationwide in the third quarter of 1999 alone. Its addition of 2.1 million subscribers in the first three quarters of 1999 makes it the fastest growing wireless communications company in the nation. The firm is poised to sustain, and possibly surpass, those client growth levels in 2000 with a variety of changes in offerings and, possibly, company structure.
It was a busy fall for Sprint PCS, which began offering the Sprint PCS Wireless Web in September. The Wireless Web allows customers to connect to select Internet-based content at any time, utilizing their Sprint PCS phones to browse text-only versions of popular Web sites. The Wireless Web has engendered numerous partnerships and relationships with some technology icons, including Yahoo!, CNN Interactive, Ameritrade, Bloomberg.com, Weather.com and IBM. Also, customers can receive automatic updates from Yahoo! via their Sprint PCS phones.
Sprint PCS’ newsmaking capacity in 2000 may well extend beyond the Wireless Web and the company’s considerable growth. Parent company Sprint announced a definitive merger agreement in October with MCI/WorldCom. Though the agreement is subject to approvals of both companies’ stockholders, the FCC, the Justice Department and other public entities, officials at both companies say they expect the deal to close in the second half of 2000. The united firms’ subsequent plans include becoming a leader in providing global communications services, such as broadband “all distance” services to businesses and homes, as well as nationwide digital wireless voice and data services.