After 16 years with Trammell Crow Co., Jeff Haynes co-founded the Nashville office for Memphis-based Boyle Investment Co. nearly nine years ago. The real estate investment firm has since grown to a 16-person team with a 1.5 million-square-foot portfolio of commercial properties.
What is the most outside-of-the-box idea you have ever had in your professional career? I would definitely have to say my biggest professional leap was leaving my job at the Trammell Crow Co. Phil Fawcett and I started this office for Boyle in 2001, with no customers, and I had four small children at the time.
What was the result? We both worked from home until our wives kicked us out to save our marriages. So we leased a small office on West End, which is when Mark Traylor came aboard with us, followed by Thomas McDaniel. We were all crammed in a tiny office, but we stuck to our core beliefs and added the infamous “Two Suburban” rule, which states “we will never grow beyond the number of employees that can fit into two Suburbans.” We knew this would force us to pick quality people and projects over volume and allow us to grow the business over time, instead of the business growing us.
What single thing makes your organization stand out? We realize that every person here brings something very unique and valuable to the team. So, we are able to recognize what our individual strengths are, and really use that to our advantage as a team. We also don’t believe in having formal titles because what one person does is just as important as the next.
What does your organization have in the works for 2010? Boyle Investment Co. has a 76-year history of conservative real estate investment and development. So today, we are very fortunate that this conservatism means no near term loan maturities, a healthy balance sheet, liquidity and access to leverage with bank debt. We have closed four transactions in the past 12 months and look forward to growing modestly in 2010.
How did you wind up in your current profession? By complete accident. Very few companies were hiring math majors in 1982, but I interviewed with National Life as an actuary. The human resources department kept my resume and sent it on to the real estate group.
What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization? To remind everyone to balance work with their health and families. We don’t believe in letting our work rule our lives. Instead, we let our lives rule our work. When you are healthy, working hard but living a balanced life, and being the best version of yourself that you can be, everything else seems to fall into place.
What word best describes your leadership style? Integrity.
Goal yet to be achieved? Run a full marathon.
Professional pet peeve? Brokers who compromise honesty and integrity for a larger commission.
What keeps you up at night? Worrying about how to convince my mother to schedule an appointment to get a physical (hint, hint to my mother).
What do you do to relieve stress? Run and spend time at the lake. The office also has a tradition of walking over to Swanky’s each Friday afternoon for a margarita to close out the work week.
What is the simplest thing you never learned to do? Type well. I handwrite everything first and then type it up if I really have to, one peck at a time.
Favorite hobbies? Water skiing, reading, spending time on the lake with my family. I don’t know if it is a favorite hobby, but I am constantly driving to commercial properties to see what works and what doesn’t. It drives my family crazy.
Pets? A lab named Josie and Schnauzer named Hallie.
What trait do you value most in friends? Humility.
You’ve just been given $100,000 to donate to charity. Where would you give it, and why? To three organizations that I think change lives: Renewal House, The Salvation Army and Big Brothers Big Sisters, where I have been matched with a little brother for 22 years.
When faced with two equally qualified candidates, how do you determine whom to hire? Allow Phil Fawcett, my business partner for 15 years, to interview them because he is tough and will either crack them in 15 minutes or deem them a keeper. In reality, we just try to determine who will be the best team player. Often times we will accept less experience in exchange for a willingness from candidates to roll up their sleeves and be team players.
What would you like to cross off your “bucket list” next? Running with the bulls in Spain with my longtime friend Allen Lindsey.
What line of work would you pursue if you couldn’t work in your present one? Peace Corps volunteer.
Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? There are two. The first is my father because he epitomizes what it takes to lead an effort to achieve results and always fights for the underdog. The second is Phil Fawcett. He has been instrumental in making sure that we put our faith, families and communities first and our jobs second.
What is there about you that people would be surprised to learn? That I can be shy at times.
What skill would you most like to improve? My children are constantly reminding me that my jokes aren’t funny, so I guess my humor. When they bring friends to the lake, they get embarrassed by my music and jokes, so I have become the silent boat driver.
Person outside of your family you would most like to spend time with on an island? My sister Amy who died after childbirth when I was 2 years old. I would love to get to know her and ask her about heaven.
What is the one trait that you have seen derail more leaders’ careers? Greed.
What part of your job would you gladly give up? Paperwork. I am more of a big picture than a details guy.