Market niche, talent driving firms growth

If you were to ask Jeffrey P. Spratt of Peregrine Property Management to describe his ideal business climate, today’s economy would not be on the tip of his tongue. More

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Market niche, talent driving firms growth

PBN PHOTO/BRIAN MCDONALD
NICE VIEW: Peregrine Property Management principals Jeffrey P. Spratt, left, and Brendan C. Kane sit atop the tallest building at Rumford Center in East Providence, one of the many properties the firm manages.
Posted 9/24/12

If you were to ask Jeffrey P. Spratt of Peregrine Property Management to describe his ideal business climate, today’s economy would not be on the tip of his tongue.

But you play the hand you are dealt, and he and his team are playing it as well or better than anyone else in the game.

“While there is very little good that has come of the recent economic climate, we have benefited from it in a way, because we’ve had access to highly qualified professionals to fill new roles as they become available,” he said.

Spratt is proud of his company for sure, but he is also aware of how it has come to be so successful. No matter the business, you need good people at every level to make it in this market.

“We have been very fortunate to surround ourselves with both facilities and administrative professionals who take a tremendous amount of pride in their jobs, and truly treat every property that we manage as if it were their own,” Spratt said.

With the right people in place, Peregrine set out to find a niche market it could fill. In Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts, Peregrine has carved out a slice of business that makes it unusual.

“Peregrine’s entire portfolio is comprised of midsized properties that range from 5,000 square feet to 300,000 square feet,” Spratt said. “These properties are typically too small for the big players in the market to consider, and they are too large for some of the smaller property managers out there who are geared more toward facility support at small multifamily properties.”

Thus he sees these two factors – an excellent workforce and a willingness to take a risk on a niche market – as responsible for the company’s significant growth over the past two-and-a-half years – from $12,000 in revenue in 2009 to $850,000 last year.

“Our intention was never to be a small shop with a sprinkling of properties around Providence. Growth has been our focus since Day One, and, with that in mind, we have always stressed the importance of process and policy to accommodate our growth,” he said

“Whether it has to do with the scheduling, dispatching and tracking of our facilities professionals, or the careful attention paid to the finances of our properties, we are constantly working to improve on, and implement new policies to help us work smarter.”

Peregrine has embraced aggressive uses of technology to streamline its day-to-day duties. For instance, said Spratt, the company tracks all its incoming and ongoing work orders, as well as scheduling of facilities professionals. “In order to do that, we need to understand and embrace the most innovative approaches,” he said.

The company learned very early on that it is impossible to stay on top of everything on a daily, weekly and monthly basis if information is not stored and shared in the same place, Spratt noted.

With more than 40 properties in its portfolio and 10 facilities professionals in the field, Peregrine’s use of technology helps it fine-tune work-order submittals, scheduling, tracking and close-out processes to ensure nothing gets missed or overlooked.

This approach involves everyone in the company. Spratt makes it clear to everyone on the team that they need to be a part of the everyday problem-solving and process creation. “Our approach will certainly be more creative, thorough and efficient if it is created with the help of the people who practice it on a daily basis,” he said.

Still, the variables that Peregrine has managed to exploit often can be seen as obstacles.

The Rhode Island market and the opportunities within it are small. A company here may find a limited audience for its particular product or service. Peregrine has been able to overcome this hurdle and turn it into a clear lane to success by targeting that underserved, midsized property market.

Still, with growth comes stress. In fact, stress is particularly acute in the property-management business. Between all its tenants and property owners, the company deals with hundreds of different people and personalities every day.

Because of this, the mood in the Peregrine offices can be very intense, Spratt acknowledges. But they try to keep things as light as possible. “Everyone knows that we expect a lot of them, but they also know they can come to us with any question or concern. Everyone feels comfortable enough with each other to joke around and have fun. However, we also know that you can rely on anyone in the office to help with a last-minute project or one of those many unexpected emergencies that tend to pop up,” Spratt said.

One of his biggest concerns has grown as the company has grown. Spratt wants to maintain the current climate and attitude in the office, while still implementing the guidelines and expectations associated with a larger company. He doesn’t want a boiler room, but it’s not romper room, either.

“People are our most expensive resource, however they are also our most valued. The more we can get out of our people the more profitable each account can be for us,” Spratt said. •CEO (or equivalent):

BRIAN C. KANE, JEFFREY P. SPRATT

2011 REVENUE: $850,000

2009 REVENUE: $12,000

3-YEAR GROWTH %: 6,983

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