President and manager
Company: Luther Group LLC
Address: 780 Elm Grove Road, Suite 120, Elm Grove
Real estate firm Luther Group LLC has been busy of late. It has added employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, surpassed $100 million of assets under management and recently announced it is partnering with Watertown-based nonprofit organization Bethesda on a $31 million mixed-use development in Wauwatosa that includes apartments for adults with developmental disabilities. Luther Group invests in and develops real estate and offers services like owner’s representation, development management, commercial brokerage and property management. BizTimes reporter Alex Zank recently spoke with president and manager Jason Luther about his company’s growth, the local real estate market and the future of Luther Group.
How do you choose which real estate sectors to invest in?
“I think for us, medical office, industrial and very strategic office and retail make a lot of sense. The mixed-use, multi-family projects really are ones that we would work on with an outside group like Bethesda and really lever their expertise in that market sector because that’s what they shine at.”
You’ve made several industrial real estate investments in Waukesha County, particularly in New Berlin. What do you see there that you like?
“New Berlin is a great place for these types of businesses – manufacturing, distribution – to be located. That’s where a majority of our product is right now, it’s strategically located between I-43 and I-94, so you have these great, natural transportation corridors that exist there. As you look up north to Menomonee Falls, Germantown and that area, it sort of continues that you have really good access to transportation corridors. The vacancy rate for Waukesha County industrial and distribution is at historic lows. It’s very expensive to build, and so right now we certainly want to mix in some development opportunities, but on the acquisition side we like the ability to buy essentially at or below replacement cost.”
How has your company grown over the past couple of years?
“I started the company in December in 2012, and really for the first couple of years it was me and that was it. We started to slowly grow, and really, I would say from 2018 and beyond is when we’ve seen the most growth in the company, from opportunities and adding staff. … We’re up to 11 people. We added two people during the pandemic just due to our need for continued growth. We do a really nice job, too, with levering our partners. We have strategic partners that provide us with services, as well, that allow us to grow (more easily) than if we tried to house all our services within.”
Where do you see Luther Group headed in the future?
“I think you’ll continue to see us remain very active in medical real estate development – most of that happens very quietly, but working with very large strategic partners on those efforts. You’ll continue to see us be an active developer and acquirer of strategic properties in industrial and limitedly in office. Ultimately, we want to grow our firm to new heights and keep pushing our assets under management higher and higher, but at the same time making sure we are always keeping a focus on the relationships we have and providing a good value and yield for our partners.
“On the employee side, I think we have a really great team that’s able to handle a lot of complex work. But in terms of assets under management, I think we’d like to try to continue to look at how do we double within the next couple years. … And perhaps we would even travel. We feel like we have a great team with great ideas, we understand real estate. And there’s no reason we would have to be limited to southeast Wisconsin in general.”