5 Questions with Sheldon Oppermann
Sheldon Oppermann, Executive Vice President
Compass Properties prides itself on being a values-based company. Can you explain what that means to you?
Values form the foundation for everything that happens in our company. In my opinion, values are much more visible through a company’s actions, not its talk.
The key values we’ve established for Compass Properties are Integrity, Unity, Customer Focus, Responsiveness, Sustainability, Innovation, Diversity and Social Responsibility. These 8 Values form our “True North” approach to doing business. Our founder John Noel explains that True North is focusing “on what we should do, not simply what we can do.” Throughout our company, we use our values as a guide. They help our employees make decisions every day. It’s different than getting directions from Google Maps — those are instructions, not direction. (e.g. Turn left. Turn right.) Direction is where you are headed and our direction is True North.
You mention that values are about action, not just talk. How does Compass Properties walk it talk?
I’ll use one recent investment decision to illustrate how we aligned our sustainability, customer focus and responsiveness values. We recently retrofitted all of the restrooms in CityCenter@735 with Kimberly Clark’s Onvation System. Now we can remotely monitor paper products and soap dispensers, replacing/refilling “just in time” and not too early. That saves paper, reduces waste and eliminates the chance that a restroom user is going to be really unhappy.
We are also working with one of our tenants in our Park West II (Madison Research park) building to install solar power panels that will generate 27,600 kWh energy savings a year. That savings goes right back to the tenants in that building and align with our sustainability, customer focus and social responsibility values.
Compass Properties seems to be pretty entrenched in multi-tenant commercial office space. Why is that?
We love the daily challenge. The daily partnership. It a form of commercial real estate investment where the building plays an integral role in the success of the businesses inside. Much more so than retail or residential. We know our tenants and we get to know/understand their businesses. We consider each of our buildings to be an essential tool for our tenants to attract and retain talent. All companies can relate to that.
What is the next big thing in commercial office space?
Sustainability will never lose importance and will continue to be a focus for us. That said, I believe employee wellness is the next big thing in commercial real estate. Wellness initiatives have been tied directly to employee productivity and many of them align well with our existing sustainability initiatives. Moreover, studies have shown that employees consider health and wellness packages when choosing employers, and are less likely to look for a new job, once they are there. For example, a recent AFLAC Workforces Report found that effective wellness programs result in an average of 28% fewer sick days taken, 26% reduction in health care costs and a 30% reduction in workers’ compensation and disability management claims.
While wellness programs are typically implemented by large corporations, we are in a unique position to help facilitate wellness initiatives for all of our tenants through the amenities we offer that run the gamut from workout and commuter bicycle facilities to walking trails, healthy food options and supportive programming.
What advice do you have for someone who is looking for commercial office space?
Think of your office space as an investment. The rent you pay should generate a return on your investment and not just be considered overhead. This happens when you find a location and building that 1) reinforces your brand, 2) strengthens your ability to attract/retain talent, and 3) demonstrates to your employees/your customers that you value them.