Adam Ifshin on seizing opportunities with teamwork


It’s an exciting time for retailers and for those of us who build and manage the centers in which they conduct their businesses.

We who have been able to lead our organizations through the COVID-19 crisis are now able to go on offense and grow. For DLC, that includes buying assets, selling assets, redeveloping centers, and introducing both new retailers and non-retail tenants to our properties as we densify them. The big opportunity presenting itself as we move forward is developing stores as last-mile fulfillment operations. But while these opportunities present themselves to all of us, only those companies with educated, dedicated, and motivated teams will be able to capitalize on them amid the limitations posed by a debilitated supply chain.

What has us feeling positive as we head into 2022 is not just that investors are clamoring to become part of our projects. Not just that, as I write this, we have half a hundred leases being negotiated with tenants who are migrating to our open-air centers from their traditional homes in enclosed malls and other obsolete retail venues. What’s really leading our charge is an inspired and informed team that can deliver for these new tenants, that can get their buildouts done on schedule, and that can nimbly negotiate around marketplace delays in a way that turns sudden opportunity into triumph, not regret.

But while well-capitalized and well-organized retailers now find themselves in a business cycle with potential for tremendous growth, they are struggling to find enough people to get the job done. The best-laid plans are left lying on the table without a skillful team in place to enact them. It all comes down to, “Who is your team?”

“The cheapest deal, Mr. Tenant, may not be your best deal because it may not be able to get you open on schedule. You, like me, should care about my team a lot. It’s the team that going to get you opened on time in a great-looking store.”

All through the pandemic, we at DLC focused on our team. Just as before, we were constantly looking to hire the people we could count on to move our business forward—as well as to keep the ones that were already doing it. We haven’t laid one employee off in the past year and we’ve hired a dozen people since Labor Day. We continued to invest in who we think are the best employees in the business because, without them and their experience, the complications before us can’t be overcome and prime opportunities will be squandered.

In a time when retailers are struggling with staffing, we are here to say, let’s get back to the intrinsic partnership that once existed between landlords and tenants. Not all spaces are the same, and not all landlords are the same. The cheapest deal, Mr. Tenant, may not be your best deal because it may not be able to get you open on schedule. You, like me, should care about my team a lot. It’s the team that going to get you opened on time in a great-looking store.

A good team is one that communicates with you. A couple of months ago I had dinner with a retail tenant from a big national chain who said to me, “You know, one of your guys called me up and said, ‘We’re killing to deliver for you on time, but there are some things we just can’t get from your HVAC vendor.’ So I called the vendor and told him to ship you the HVAC system I had ordered for another store and we opened on time. Nobody else had ever thought to call and ask us to help in a situation like that.”

Our team does what they need to do. They follow our playbook. If you’re a retailer who’s worked with developers where delayed openings, cost overruns, and poor workmanship have been the norm, stay away from them. If they’re bad at the beginning, they’re not likely to get good in the middle or in the end.

For some time now, retail tenants have been expanding into the centers that were the cheapest, not necessarily into the centers where they might have the longest long run and form a long-term relationship. We’d often hear, “Sorry, we found a cheaper deal over there.” But we’re not hearing that anymore from the well-financed and well-managed retailers that survived or thrived or were contrived during the pandemic.

It’s time for retail center landlords and tenants to team up again.

About the Author

Adam Ifshin
Adam Ifshin is the CEO of DLC Management Corp. Read More