Entreprenerd: Ryan Hurley: Reimagining Commercial Real Estate

By Polly

Ryan Hurley is the Founder and CEO of Hurley Development, a regional developer known for its ability to handle a wide array of commercial real estate projects, from acquisition through to completion. These projects include construction of large single family home communities, retail centers, luxury and garden style apartment communities, and office buildings, along with acquisitions and redevelopment of existing office buildings. 

Ryan’s company is known for its creativity and agility in the commercial real estate market, acquiring and completing many projects in accelerated timelines with profitable returns for investors. 

What is Hurley Development all about?

Hurley Development is a Pacific Northwest regional developer with a heart for local communities. We are passionate about the quality and craftsmanship of every project, and at the same time we position our projects to bring life to the communities we build in. We desire to bring smart technology and sustainability to every project we can, so we are leaving communities better than they were before our projects launch. We love what we do and we pay attention to the details in everything from scope to timeline to budget each and every day, and that care drives our success. Our investment in our local community, design aesthetic, dedication to enhancing and growing historic locations, and commitment to building projects that will last a lifetime are also central to our company.

We work with some of the best partners in the industry, from our General Contractor Talents Construction, LLC t our valued subcontractors, to our architects and consultants, and we hold both ourselves and our partners to the highest standards. That’s one reason why we continue to be entrusted by investors and financial partners to build large commercial real estate projects. Hurley Development is also a big part of the community. We’re known for our collaborations with like-minded businesses big and small, our diverse clientele, and our long-lasting partnerships.

Hurley Development also frequently collaborates with causes and nonprofits that we resonate with, and we put our money where our mouth is when we invest in issues that matter to us by donating to a wide range of charitable organizations, including our partnership with F.I.S.H., a food pantry organization that provides fresh produce, staples, dairy, meat and other healthy foods to tens of thousands of families in Clark County.

Tell us a little bit about your background and how you started your company?

I took an unusual path into the real estate industry. Long before starting Hurley Development, I partnered with local small businesses who needed help getting off the ground, especially when it came to their physical space and the functionality of their business plan. I didn’t know much, but I had a knack for making things successful. One thing led to another and I found myself working for a local commercial real estate developer. They put me in a position where I learned how to manage sales at a large housing development, and from there I grew into acquisitions, entitlement, all the way through to closing hundreds of home sales. Along the way I had a chance to shadow the owner of the company and learn all about real estate from the ground up, an opportunity that I treasure and I am still good friends with the owner of the company today. 

After the Great Recession hit, real estate was one of the hardest hit sectors in the economy and the company I was with had to cut employees. One by one I saw people losing their jobs and I realized I was going to eventually be faced with a choice: start my own business that I had thought about starting but hadn’t done yet, or get some kind of a job to keep my family afloat. Eventually I was the last employee on staff other than the owner. I decided to take the plunge and try to make my mark on the real estate map, or die trying. I had a project that I thought could work and I was able to pull together the pieces I needed to launch the company and build our first building, for a local sporting goods store. From there, things started to take off, and we have never looked back. That experience formed the foundation for the company. My heart for downtown Vancouver seemed crazy to many because it was an underperforming area, but it really resonated with what was going on in real estate around the country, a return to local, walkable cities, and it just kind of took off in this way I never expected.

The idea behind Hurley Development has always been to find projects that might be difficult for some developers, but we approach them in a very thoughtful way that allows us to succeed where others might not be as successful. We put a real emphasis on quality, doing things the right way, delivering profit for our investors. As a staff we draw inspiration from our Hurley mission: we are Humble, Hungry, and Honest. These values have always been an important part of what the company is all about.

What would you say are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur, and why?

  • Urgency. This was a skill I learned from sports. I played many different sports as a kid, all the way through high school. In sports, if you wanna win you can’t just stand around and have a bunch of great ideas. You and the whole team have to take action and be willing to roll up your sleeves and get stuff done. You have to figure out how to adapt to challenges you might not have imagined. You have to find ways to keep things moving and work your way to the end zone.
  • Faith. As a person of faith, I want to lead our company to keep our promises, with a sense of duty to the community, partners and investors, while honoring our client and tenant relationships. What I mean by this is a commitment, almost a stubbornness, to our values and to what we stand for, which are in many ways our greatest assets.
  • The ability to bring together a great team. Although I’m the founder of Hurley Development, it’s our team we work with day in and day out that really deserve the credit for making the company so successful. We have a brilliant, experienced, diverse team at Hurley Development.

What are your plans for the future, how do you plan to grow this company?

With our most recent capstone project HQ Vancouver, we acquired a 107 acre historic quarry that began operations in 1881 and reclaimed and repurposed it as a micro smart city. The connected community includes 2000 residential units, retail and restaurants, entertainment, offices and light industrial buildings on 30 lots, along with miles of trails, beautiful plantings, and amazing views of the Columbia Gorge. The company is in a rapid-growth phase, so I think the key is not figuring out how to grow, we are figuring out how to stay true to who we are as we scale. Our values are our guiding light: the three “H’s” Humble, Hungry, and Honest are the key values we strive to exhibit in our work. As a team, we practice these qualities and look for them in our colleagues, partners, and clients.

How have the pandemic and Lockdown affected you or your business?

We are in commercial real estate. So when the pandemic hit, it was scary. We immediately froze and took a hard look at all of our assets and projects. We needed to determine our liabilities and our opportunities. Like everyone, we had no idea how it would impact our business, or for how long. We knew, relatively quickly, that our downtown flagship hotel project was a bad idea. And even though we had invested in the project and had approved architectural plans, we had to shut it down and pivot to a new concept: a luxury apartment building. We had many other projects in mid-stream and our future was uncertain. Not only that, we were in the middle of construction on our own Hurley Tower building on the Vancouver waterfront. It wasn’t easy. But it also provided a great opportunity for us to focus on our projects and build even stronger relationships with our office tenants. We took a number of steps with two goals in mind: to be able to take care of our team as well as we possibly could, and to ensure the company not only survived, but thrived.

Working remotely wasn’t always easy for me. We have experienced so much success from the synergy that comes from our team working in the same space. I remember when we opened our office tower there were many days where I was one of the only employees in the office. There were other pandemic-related challenges too: it was very difficult for our GC and their subs to keep their teams intact. People were jumping ship left and right in the industry, and it was tough to get pieces of the project completed on time. Of course, the pandemic put the supply chain on pause, and procuring products for our projects was a nightmare, which costs everyone involved. It was frustrating and scary at times, but it was inspiring to see how everyone pulled together. It required a lot of scrappiness, but the result was our best 2 years in our history as a company.

How do you separate yourself from your competitors?

I’ve always been a competitive person. But more than that, I believe relationships are more important than winning. One of our greatest strengths is that we collaborate with a wide variety of organizations, municipalities, and people. At the end of the day we know when others win, we win. Not “winning” by beating others. We define winning as overcoming challenges and finding success in our endeavors. 

If you only had $1000 dollars to start a new business, knowing everything you know now, how would you spend it?

I’d use it for relationship building…dinners, coffee, drinks, sports tickets. It is so key to have quality relationships with the right people. People who can help and want to be part of a winning team. People who know the things that we don’t. People who are admired and respected. That’s essentially what I have done throughout my journey at Hurley Development. I am always thinking about who I should meet and encourage. People from the real estate industry, from finance, from investor circles. I’ve spent a lot of time meeting people who have blazed the trail before me. People who are more experienced in the world of real estate than I am. I love meeting veterans of their industry, and without them, I don’t think Hurley Development would have gotten off the ground or been as successful as we’ve been.

How can readers get in touch with you?

People can learn more about who I am and get in touch with me through my website. I always love hearing from people!