J. Pat Beaird INDUSTRY of the YEAR
We've got problems in our economy; we've got problems in our racism; we've got many other problems."
That was then-Shreveport Mayor John Hussey’s description of the city. His assessment appeared in a Washington Post story on Sept. 22, 1988 – days after rioters looted and set fire to businesses in Shreveport’s Cedar Grove area.
Instead of hitting black gold, the oil and gas industry – then vital to our economy – had hit hard times.
Jobs were lost. Businesses were closed. People left town. In other words, 1988 wasn’t the best time to start a business.
However, while most saw the glass half-empty, David Alexander and Alvin Childs Jr. saw a glass half-full, just waiting to be filled.
“Quite frankly, some of the best moves you can make – whether they be to start a business or buy a property – some of the best times to do that are in the tough times,” Alexander said.
Thirty-three years later, Alexander and Childs are drinking from an overflowing glass of success.
Vintage Realty Company, which Alexander and Childs founded, has been named J. Pat Beaird Memorial Industry of the Year by the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce.
“It means a lot, mainly because of the name attached to the Industry of the Year,” Alexander said. He and Childs have had a close relationship with the Beaird family for a long time.
“Charles Beaird, Pat’s brother, was our original investor, backer and professional mentor to me for many, many years,” Alexander said. “We were partners for a long time. I’ve been associated with the Beaird family for all these years. It even goes back to when my father was minister of First Presbyterian Church. Charles Beaird’s wife, Carolyn, was very active and instrumental in the church. The relationship and the friendships go way, way back between me and Al and the Beaird family. Having those families attached to (the award) is very important to us.”
Vintage Realty Company manages more than 70 properties and five and a half million square feet of office space and apartment complexes in Louisiana and Arkansas.
“Vintage has been a leader in helping to transform residential and commercial real estate across the Ark-La-Tex,” Chamber president Dr. Timothy Magner said. “Their business leadership is matched by their engagement, sponsorships and overall contribution to our community.”
“The way I look at this is that this award is given to everybody at Vintage, and everybody that has worked hard with us and for us since 1988,” Alexander said.
For Alexander and Childs, success was not immediate.
“Back when we first started Vintage, things weren’t so good around here,” Alexander remembered. “That’s an understatement. I think back then, and all the way to today, I think some people have given up, or did give up, on our community and our area. Back in the ’80s, we thought our timing was perfect. Turns out, we were probably a little early to start a new real estate company. But we persevered and hung tight and tough.”
The economy’s downturn gave Vintage its first big break – a break that Alexander said “helped us keep the doors open.” A significant number of people could not pay their house notes, commercial lease notes or any other note. That led to banks foreclosing on “houses, buildings and all kind of properties.”
“We represented Premier Bank out of Baton Rouge,” Alexander said. “They assigned us all the real estate in North Louisiana that they were taking back from foreclosures. One of the first jobs we landed and held for a few years was exactly that. We managed all the real estate owned by Premier Bank.”
In 1993, Vintage expanded into the world of multi-family developments. Two years later, Vintage’s first apartment complex, Champion Lake – along Shreveport’s Clyde Fant Parkway – was open for business.
“At the time, because of the economy and everything, nothing had been built in approximately seven or eight years,” Alexander said. “There was a period when no new multi-family projects had been built. Quite frankly, I don’t think anything got built back then. For a while, we didn’t know if anything would get built.”
But Champion Lake did get built, though the process wasn’t easy.
“It was a challenge because the land was all low,” Alexander said. “But, with the advice of some engineers, we ended up dredging over 200,000 cubic yards of sand out of the river to build the site up. It went very well. That was our first foray into multifamily, and we’ve been fortunate to continue to do that. Along with a lot of other things we do, that’s one of our primary growth areas. We’ve probably developed close to 4,000 units – mostly in Louisiana – and we continue to look for opportunities.”
While few would disagree Shreveport-Bossier has its share of issues – from the economy to crime to race relations – Alexander believes the future of real estate is brighter than when he and Childs started Vintage Realty Company.
“A couple of things are different,” Alexander said. “Interest rates are at all-time lows right now. When we built Champion Lake, I think the interest rate was 8 1 /2 percent. Today, it would be closer to less than 3 percent. Interest rates are a big part of what’s going on right now. The overall fundamentals in Shreveport are better today than they were back then. While Shreveport is not really growing right now, since the ’70s and ’80s, we’ve diversified. The medical industry is very large here. Barksdale continues to be very important.”
Something very important to Alexander and Childs is their desire to keep giving back to our area, whether it be with their time, company sponsorships or financial contributions.
“It’s tough to grow a company and manage and operate a company,” Alexander said. “But if you don’t give back to your community, you’re just holding yourself back. If we all don’t contribute and give some of our time away and mentor people that are
coming up behind us, then that’s just somewhat selfish. I think any of us that are fortunate enough to be in a position to have time, or be able to take time to give back, I just think that’s something that everybody ought to do some of.”
To learn more about Vintage Realty Company, you may visit www.vintagerealty.com.