When Ron McMenemy and his partners took over NAI Horizon in Las Vegas last summer, they knew they wanted to take the company in a different direction, and so far the direction seems to be “up”. Established in 1979 as Americana Better Homes & Gardens, the real estate company had established itself as a presence in both commercial and residential real estate in Southern Nevada, and was affiliated with New America International (NAI), a worldwide company harnessing the power of 4,000 real estate professionals in 300 markets across the globe.
McMenemy, with 20 years of experience in commercial real estate, moved to NAI Prudential Americana as broker and general manager in 1998 and was eventually promoted to president. “I started recruiting successful commercial brokers, and one way I did this was to let people know about the power of NAI and what it can mean for brokers,” he said. In October 2000 he was offered a chance to purchase the company, and the acquisition was finalized in July 2001.
McMenemy, who serves as president of NAI Horizon, CEO John Schottenstein and two other partners bought the company with the intention of concentrating exclusively on commercial real estate. “It took six months for the complete switchover of telephone systems, computer systems, etc.,” explained McMenemy. “Then we began the process of deciding which brokers to keep and which to let go. In January, we went from 60 brokers to a little more than 30. But as we cut staff almost in half, we doubled our production. We found our phones started ringing with new contacts. Players didn’t want to come with us while they thought we were carrying dead weight.”
McMenemy said the firm’s revenues are divided between retail (25 percent), office (20 percent) and land (30 percent), with the remaining business spread between investments, industrial, property management and corporate services. Corporate services is a relatively new thing for commercial real estate, and McMenemy is excited about the possibility of growing this segment of his business, which services very large national and international accounts. “At least 50 percent, and perhaps as much as 80 percent, of people who own commercial real estate in Las Vegas also own property elsewhere,” he said. “Because of our affiliation with NAI, we can take care of all their properties, no matter where they are located. I have guys on the ground with local experience in 300 markets.”
One of the technical innovations that allows NAI members to service national clients is a proprietary system called “RealTrac”, which is officially called a “transaction management system”. A national client with locations in several states can access the system at any time and see what progress has been made in its search for a corner location in Boise or a buyer for its property in Miami. The RealTrac system keeps records of all correspondence, photos and documents in one online location accessible by all interested parties. “RealTrac puts NAI in the forefront of technology,” said McMenemy. “It allows brokers to leverage their time and serve more clients, and it allows clients to outsource their needs instead of having a large real estate division in-house. It gives clients a single point of contact for all real estate transactions, instead of having to travel around the country and deal with several different individuals.” McMenemy estimates about 5 percent of his company’s earnings are a direct result of deals arranged by NAI, but he said the percentage is growing.
NAI-Horizon serves Clark and Nye counties in Southern Nevada and is affiliated with NAI Horizon in Phoenix. The Las Vegas office did $380 million in transactions in 2001 and manages 2 million square feet of commercial property. “Our goal is to become the number one commercial real estate firm in the state. Depending on which market segment you’re looking at, we’re now either number two or three,” said McMenemy. “Now that the dust has settled on our transition, we want to grow our business along with servicing our current clients.”