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Inside Sansone Group's strategy: 'We're constantly reinventing ourselves'

Posted on April 03, 2019

https://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/news/2019/04/03/inside-sansone-groups-strategy-were-constantly.html?ana=e_du_prem&s=article_du&ed=2019-04-03&u=7P6oI3XElT4Ws4UcfeolzQ06a2080c&t=1554323985&j=87607271

From left: Sansone Group Principals Jim, Nick and Doug Sansone



From left: Sansone Group Principals Jim, Nick and Doug Sansone


By Steph Kukuljan – Reporter, St. Louis Business Journal

Apr 3, 2019, 6:31am CDT Updated 7 hours ago

Sansone Group's $23.6 million acquisition of an industrial property in Nashville with Fortress Investment Group marked not only the firm's entrance to a new market but also a retooling of how Sansone Group does business.

The focus on change, brought on by the firm's five-year plan, freed the principals and brothers, Jim, Doug and Nick Sansone, from running individual departments to focus on new opportunities in growing its "strategic alliances." (Another brother, Tim, also is a principal and focuses on multifamily.)

“It’s been a process," Jim Sansone said of the company's changes. "We're constantly reinventing ourselves. As dad (company founder Anthony Sansone Sr.) always said, if you’re not making changes, going forward, you're going backwards. There's no such thing as standing still. So you have to continue to evolve."

The Clayton-based real estate company is leveraging new relationships that will enable the firm to do more deals, like its joint venture with Fortress in Nashville. That deal was a watershed moment for the company, which typically comes to a new market through property management — a side door that offers a view of activity and a chance to look for acquisition or development deals.

“We have the expertise and ability. We just needed, frankly, more capital to be able to do it on a much larger scale,” Doug Sansone said.

Over the past three years, Sansone Group has done $300 million worth of acquisitions across the Midwest and Southeast and is aiming to close out $115 million worth of acquisitions in 2019. It's targeting an additional $135 million by the end of 2020.



"Acquisition was an opportunity that we hadn't taken full advantage of in the past. This has changed in the past five or so years, where it's becoming much more of a focus,” Jim said.

It's a shift in strategy that the company's founder and patriarch is on board with.

"(That's) a testament to his character. Usually a 92-year-old person who's built a company says, 'this is the only way to do it,'" Doug said. "Our dad has instituted an entrepreneurial attitude, amongst all of us, to always continue to look for opportunities to grow."

Those opportunities won't just be open-air, power-anchored retail centers that the company is most known for. Sansone Group is targeting mixed-use, office, spec industrial and multifamily developments, Nick Sansone said.

"We still very much believe in retail. But it is more difficult today to develop a large, open-air power center than it was 15 years ago. It's just a fact,” he said.

Sansone Group is expecting more from Nashville — its industrial acquisition is about 25 miles east of the city center in Couchville — where the firm is already looking at opportunities next door, he added. It's a lucrative bet, with Nashville one of the top five cities with the most potential in commercial real estate and its industrial market one of the top investment sectors, according to a 2019 projections report from PwC.

“I think with our company, we have to constantly see what we can do better, how we can adapt to the changing environment. We look at cities like Nashville — they haven't settled for being just the country music capital of the world. Nashville is continually reinventing themselves and succeeding," Jim said.