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If you want to build a successful business, put people first

Adam Ifshin - If you want to build a successful business, put people first.

It’s been more than 30 years since I founded DLC. Since then, we’ve grown our portfolio to more than 70 shopping centers totaling over 17 million square feet across 20 states.  In that time, I have been involved in over $5 billion in transactions. Just last year, in a time when other market players remained on the sidelines, we acquired four major centers totaling more than $100 million across four disparate metro regions, and we raised significant institutional capital to allow our team to develop a robust pipeline of acquisitions.

But amid that staggering growth, one thing remains the same: we are, at our core, a people-focused company. More than half of our teammates – now over 140 and strong and growing – are part of Generation Z, and (to me, at least) it’s obvious why. We are steadfastly focused on personal growth and professional development, and we allow our people the space to be empowered, to take risks, and to forge creative solutions with an entrepreneurial mindset.

I grew up in commercial real estate. It’s an exhilarating, creative, and sometimes exhausting business – but it rewards chutzpah, disruptive thinking, and perseverance. In an industry in which the CEO function has increasingly become a corporate title, I think of myself as a people-first entrepreneur. I started my first company at 19 — after ditching a gig lifeguarding at Long Island beaches as part of the Jones Beach Lifeguard Corps, I became a contractor and made more in a summer than I ever expected to. That took hustle, and it’s something I actively look for in seeking out new folks to join our team of industry disruptors.

It’s not just about fancy drink machines in the cafeteria or inspirational quotes on the walls; it’s about helping teammates feel valued for their contributions and treating them like the professionals we know they are.

When we’re interviewing potential new team members, we’re always on the lookout for the five key entrepreneurial traits we know are critical for success not only at DLC, but in life:

  • Genuine – You are self-confident, but you don’t have an ego. You act with integrity, and you treat everyone around you with respect.  You celebrate your team’s collective wins over your own, and you recognize the contributions and successes of your teammates.
  • Agile – You move quickly, easily, and flexibly in response to changing situations and the needs of your clients and teammates. When a situation can be improved, you are first in line to facilitate the needed changes.
  • Curious – You are innately curious with a strong desire to learn and know. You always take the time to ask thoughtful questions because you constantly want to achieve more.
  • Resilient – You overcome and quickly bounce back from setbacks. You help your teammates get back on track when they are knocked down, and you learn from and welcome similar help from those around you.
  • Unstoppable – You welcome challenges, and you do not give up when a situation looks bleak or unsolvable. You know there are critical times when the only way to achieve optimal results is by committing to and taking the necessary extra steps.

And we also know that retention is key.  It’s not just about fancy drink machines in the cafeteria or inspirational quotes on the walls; it’s about helping teammates feel valued for their contributions and treating them like the professionals we know they are. What we’re focused on here at DLC is continuously improving how leadership can help the people on the team make their career dreams come true. We are creating a culture of leadership that helps every team member build a successful and rewarding career. Not a job. A CAREER. In fact, almost 80% of our teammates who have been with the company for two or more years have been promoted at least once. Some have been promoted from entry level positions and are now team leads.

Team DLC raised over $130,000 for Cycle for Survival. The annual event is a highlight for the riders and for the organization as a whole.

We’ve also implemented a flex-place and flex-time work policy to allow our team to remain connected from everywhere and anywhere. Teammates can also choose the hours that enable them to tend to responsibilities they have outside of work. This isn’t just a policy that was simply announced and rolled out – it’s one I as CEO have actively encouraged our teammates to take advantage of. We believe in a hybrid model and have not changed it since rolling it out in March 2020. This is just one of the ways that we aim to bring value to the teammates that bring so much value to us.

We’ve been named a Great Place to Work for seven consecutive years. I’m really proud of that, and proud of our team at large for all they to do continue to support each other – professionally and personally – in creating that environment.

As the competition stalls, we’re racing ahead with the accomplishments and achievements that others can not boast. We’re always building our team. Join us.

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