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  • Writer's pictureGrant Reaves

The Founding of Stoic Equity Partners




Stoic was founded by myself, Grant Reaves, and Jeremy Friedman in 2020 / 2021. Jeremy and I were long-time commercial real estate brokers who initially met while working at a regional real estate brokerage, Bellator Commercial in Spanish Fort, AL.

 

Jeremy's career began in investment banking in Memphis, TN, where he served as an institutional bond broker for clients, including banks, pension funds, insurance companies, and mutual funds. He was a VP at NBC Capital Markets Group and SVP at Duncan-Williams, assisting clients with their fixed-income portfolios. Following his time in Memphis, Jeremy moved to Fairhope, AL, and co-founded Kaloosa Builders in 2006, marking his entry into the real estate world. After years in the residential construction sector, he transitioned to commercial real estate in 2011, working with retail developer Pate Holdings. His primary role there included the disposition of the firm’s assets, mainly consisting of single-tenant retail properties. In 2014, he moved to Bellator Commercial to focus on brokerage of single-tenant retail, moving away from an in-house position with a developer.

 

I was working at Bellator Commercial when Jeremy joined the team. I finished college in 2013 and worked at Bellator, focusing on limited-service hotel brokerage throughout the southeast. Jeremy and I spent the next four years sitting next to each other and became good friends. Around 2017/2018, Jeremy and I both left Bellator Commercial to expand our brokerage capabilities. Jeremy went on to found a regional brokerage firm, Katapult Properties, while I joined Marcus & Millichap to be part of their Nation Hospitality Team. We always stayed in touch and kept up with each other's activities over the years.

 

We reconnected in 2020, just before Covid began. Jeremy and I had always discussed raising funds to transition from brokerage to the principal side of the CRE business. I had started studying through YouTube, books, and courses on how to correctly underwrite and structure private equity real estate deals begging at the end of 2019. The timing worked well for Jeremy and me to reconnect. In the spring of 2020, Jeremy called me with a good idea for a building in Fairhope, but he didn't know how to put it together. Fortunately, I had spent time learning that process, at least conceptually. The building was a 45K SF office asset, currently listed at a 10% cap rate, with a short-term, publicly traded office tenant in place. The building was a former grocery store repurposed into an office in 2013.



 

Jeremy called me with the idea to put the building under contract, renegotiate a longer-term lease, and then resell it for a lower cap rate. The returns were great, so we moved forward and put our first deal under contract. Stoic Equity Partners LLC did not exist yet, so we used an LLC that Jeremy owned. Unfortunately, the timing could not have been worse, as we signed the contract in April 2020, just as Covid began to disrupt markets. Trying to get an office tenant to sign a longer-term lease during the era of working from home went nowhere, and we ended up having to drop the contract during due diligence.

 

We were back to square one but saw a lot of potential in finding deals to put together ourselves. We were both still active brokers full time, but after we dropped that contract, we decided to team up and continue to chase deals. We did not have an asset class specialty in mind, as coming through Covid, no one had a firm idea of which asset classes would perform well and which would become obsolete. We spent the next months looking at deals of all kinds and ended up doing a land flip as our first transaction in early 2021.

 

Around that same time (early 2021), a developer had put that original office building under contract with the idea of doing a self-storage conversion. We had the same idea when we had it under contract but were so new at the time that it seemed like a daunting task to put that together. The developer ended up deciding not to do the deal but went through the process of obtaining the zoning variance. We had been studying self-storage for a while and decided to go back and buy that property to convert it to self-storage. We closed the deal in July 2021, along with eight equity partners. The property opened seven months later and is still in the portfolio as a 346-unit self-storage facility.

 

Stoic has taken the momentum from that first investment to currently own over 500,000 SF of self-storage and industrial assets. As of this writing (Dec 2023), the firm has an additional 376,000 SF under contract that will close in Q1 2024. After our initial investments in self-storage, we moved to primarily investing in multi-tenant, flex industrial assets. Stoic has also expanded the team, currently with seven team members and two more starting in the coming weeks. The firm is focused on value-add, flex industrial, and has recently launched a fund (SEP Industrial Holdings I LLC) to purchase another $75MM - $100MM of assets in 2024.

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