In the span of the last two years, Larry Gildersleeve has introduced several new players to the vacation ownership industry – HomeAway.com, CardConnect, and NRC among them. What these companies have in common is an ability to make a difference in the vacation ownership business. HomeAway.com is the world’s leading marketplace for vacation rentals, CardConnect provides secure technology solutions and facilitates over $16 billion in payment processing annually for more than 50,000 merchant clients nationwide, and NRC Realty & Capital Advisors is a Chicago-based structured real estate specialist with an extensive track record and national scope.
Vacation rentals, secure and cost-effective payment, and redevelopment and divestiture (of troubled legacy resorts) are all significant vacation ownership issues. Potential solutions to these issues and the involvement of companies which contribute to their improvement or resolution are welcome additions.
We asked Gildersleeve to tell us about his company (www.gildersleeve.com) and what it does.
Q: What is Gildersleeve Partners?
Gildersleeve: We are a global advisory firm specializing in all forms of residential real estate. Our primary focus is resort properties, either shared or whole ownership, but also primary residential, both urban and suburban, as well as hotels.
Q: What does the company do?
Essentially, three things. Business development, consulting and real estate brokerage. By business development I mean we seek out very large, well-established companies and encourage them to look at what we are doing in real estate, especially the timeshare industry. If they do not already have a presence, or if they do but need to expand their market penetration, we ask for the opportunity to
either guide their entry or to assist with their expansion. For example in 2012, we approached HomeAway. com (www.homeaway.com), a very large public company in Austin and arguably the global leader in providing marketing channels to owners of wholly owned vacation homes. We encouraged them to look at the timeshare industry, and we were quickly engaged to lead their entry and we continue be involved in an advisory role. In 2013, we similarly approached CardConnect (www.cardconnect.com) and are presently guiding their timeshare market entry. www.skiandsea.com is a wonderful, Denver-based company acknowledged to be the leader in providing their products and services to the timeshare industry.
We are Gildersleeve Partners founder and owner Larry Gildersleeve. working with them to expand their presence with both whole ownership resort properties and hotels. In consulting we’re different, we think, in at least two significant ways. First, we have assembled independent consultants literally around the world with different areas of experience and expertise. We call this the Gildersleeve Partners Advisory Consortium. And second, almost every consortium member has had executive level experience and P&L responsibility in major corporations, so we combine knowledge and expertise with real world experience and accountability.
This broad spectrum of member expertise and geographical reachis possible because individuals and companies operate separately to deliver a range of advisory services we understand is unavailable anywhere else in the world within a single framework. Member core competencies include: asset management, business development, capital formation and restructuring, construction management, consumer research, corporate restructuring and governance, due diligence, executive and staff recruiting, expert witness testimony, golf course development, information technology, interior design, land acquisition, market analysis and feasibility studies, marketing, mergers and acquisitions, property management, real estate brokerage /acquisition and disposition, real estate leasing, regulatory compliance, sales, timeshare resales, training (sales and leadership), and vacation club design and implementation. Our primary role is to secure clients and assist in coordinating the delivery of advisory services. Currently, our members are located in New York City, Hilton Head, Orlando, Fort Myers, Miami, Sanibel Island, Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego, Mexico City, Tokyo, Perth and the U.K.
Finally, there’s real estate. We have a joint venture with Chicago-based www.nrc.com and can be found on their web site. Primarily, we endeavor to source development sites and adaptive reuse opportunities for large timeshare companies in active sales, as well as facilitate the sale of legacy resort developments. I personally hold a managing broker license in Washington State, where our company has its office in Seattle and where I owned one of the largest residential brokerage firms in the metropolitan area. And we also get involved in large commercial transactions, an example of which is a large mixed use resort development site in Hawaii.
With regard to legacy resorts, I don’t believe current methodologies for consumer-to-consumer resale will keep pace with consumers wanting to divest their timeshare ownerships. I believe this will result in a rising tide of delinquencies and defaults of dues and assessments, with HOA insolvency in some cases inevitable. Before that occurs, an opportunity exists to unwind the timeshare regime, sell the property in its entirety and distribute the net proceeds proportionately to the owners. The unwinding will be a daunting task, but if it cannot be accomplished pre-insolvency, then NRC is ideally positioned to sell these properties as it has been doing with other real estate assets for over 25 years.
Q: Who are the partners in Gildersleeve Partners?
Gildersleeve: I am honored to say that Jeff Sites, co-founder of Trendwest and a Seattle resident, is my partner. Jeff and Bill Peare grew a literal 1989 startup timeshare company through an IPO to an eventual sale in 2003 for almost a billion dollars. In combination, our experience and expertise covers virtually every aspect of the resort timeshare industry, as well as other areas of real estate and the hospitality industry.
Q: What is your background?
Gildersleeve: I entered the timeshare industry in August of 1980. I have had the great good fortune to have held executive level positions with some of the world’s leading companies, including RCI and Interval International, as well as Hilton Grand Vacations and Trendwest Resorts. And I was managing director of the Pacific Northwest division of San Diego based Ryness Company, which at the time was the nation’s largest seller of residential real estate on behalf of homebuilders. With respect to timeshare industry affairs, I have been an ARDA board member, the Board’s chairman-elect, the ARDA Foundation’s president, as well as chairman of various ARDA committees, such as research and state regulatory affairs.
There are a number of industry mentors I have I’d like to mention: Christel and Jon DeHaan, Craig Nash, Ed McMullen, Allen Ten Broek, Bob Taylor, Bill Peare and Jeff Sites – because I was on their respective executive team and therefore under their direct leadership. And many others with whom I never worked directly, but have had a lot of interaction over the years. Bob Miller would be at the top of that list, along with my very dear friend, Gary Terry. I’m an entrepreneur now, but certainly not on the same lap of the track as the DeHaans or other early industry pioneers like Keith Trowbridge, or Ed and Bob at American Resorts or Bob and Al at Mariner Resorts. For most of my career, I have regarded myself as more of an Intrapreneur, achieving my goals and objectives while helping these folks monetize their visions.
My business is built on relationships and ideas. I don’t just have an Outlook database. I’m proud to say I have extensive personal and professional relationships throughout the world, with some now approaching 35 years in duration. And I’ve become a pretty good source of ideas, which is absolutely essential to achieving success in our business development arena. For example, the separate ideas for Home Away, Card Connect and NRC to enter the timeshare industry were mine. I approached them. They did not seek me out. Not all of my ideas turn out this successfully, of course. Gildersleeve Partners was formed in 1996 in Orlando, and moved to Seattle 2001. Initially, our sole focus was consultancy before expanding first into real estate brokerage and then into business development. We have been active in the time periods in which I was not a corporate executive, and since 2012 it has been a full on endeavor.
Q: What is the Gildersleeve Partners business proposal to clients?
Gildersleeve: It varies depending upon which of the three areas we’re discussing as they are decidedly different in terms of focus and outcomes. But what will be found in all three is an unwavering commitment to honesty, integrity, confidentiality and the highest possible level of professionalism. If we believe we can help you achieve your stated objectives, and if we believe you possess the same commitments as those just mentioned, then we are delighted to have the opportunity to be engaged. And if we believe in you and what you want to accomplish, but don’t think we are your best choice, we will tell you and help you find the
best available resource.
Q: What makes Gildersleeve Partners services unique?
Gildersleeve: It goes to something I mentioned earlier. There are many outstanding advisory firms in each of our three disciplines, and they all have varying strengths and areas of expertise. What we believe sets us apart, and by “we” I mean Jeff and myself, is we have had decades of hands on executive leadership experience and direct P&L accountability in very large multi-national companies, both public and private. In Jeff ’s case, he was president of Trendwest when it was a public company, and then CEO post-acquisition by another public company. And he was the architect of Worldmark, which I believe to be, all things considered, the best multi-site vacation club in the world. And I had the privilege of leading the team that designed and brought to market the Hilton Grand Vacations Club offering, and HGVC is currently ranked near the top of all timeshare companies worldwide.
Q: What are your plans for the remainder of 2014 and into the new year? What do you want to accomplish?
Gildersleeve: For the balance of this year and next, we will remain focused on our existing client’s needs and continue to look for new relationships where we can add significant value. Home Away is continuing to expand its industry presence, and I believe Card Connect will, in 2015, come to be recognized industry-wide as a preferred provider of its services to development and management companies, as well as other companies providing third-party services to these entities. And I believe 2015 will see the NRC legacy resort initiative begin to gain significant traction as it addresses this critical industry issue. Next August marks the completion of my 35th year of timeshare industry association, and I am as energized now as I was back then. Obviously, older. Hopefully, wiser.