Texas Aggie Bar Association: Please tell us what Garza Program Management does.
Richard Garza: We are in the business of providing project-management and cost expertise to institutional and commercial real-estate users. That involves everything from commercial real-estate brokerage, site collection, and all the other traditional services you would see in a traditional brokerage house for a typical private-sector client. A third of our business caters to the public sector, including developing budgets and putting together information for bond referenda.
Texas Aggie Bar Association: How did you get into this industry?
Richard Garza: My father was the small residential home builder and remodeler in Galveston, so I grew up in the single-family side of the business. I went to Texas A&M and got into the Construction Science Department in the College of Architecture, which I found to be a degree I enjoyed and did well in.
Texas Aggie Bar Association: Tell us about Garza Program Management’s selection as one of the Aggie 100.
Richard Garza: One of our employees nominated our company. The award is based on growth over the previous three years. We have had 72% growth over the last 3 years, which is something we are very proud of.
Texas Aggie Bar Association: You narrowly missed making the top 10, right?
Richard Garza: We ranked number 11, which was kind of shocking. We knew we had done really well, but we didn't know how well.
Texas Aggie Bar Association: What do you attribute your growth to, particularly when it's been a down economy for construction?
Richard Garza: I attribute it primarily to relationships I cultivated throughout my career. The ability to earn trust so that clients know we will deliver for them is critical. Perseverance also played a big part. In addition, the public sector had ARRA tax-credit bonds to sell, so it was extremely advantageous for them to borrow money at attractive interest rates.
Texas Aggie Bar Association: Describe who usually hires you and what you are hired to do.
Richard Garza: On the public-sector side, our clients are entities like school districts, community college districts, counties, cities, municipal utility districts, airport authorities, and university systems. They often have a pretty lean staff and know they have a need but can't quantify it into dollars, so they hire us to come in and do preliminary budgets, partner with an architect, and take raw data that describes their needs and create an all-inclusive budget for the project. We also help clients promote the project to the public so that it becomes a bond program. After that, we often manage the bond program on their behalf. On the private-sector side, we help businesses with capital project requirements that need assistance pulling off a project.
Texas Aggie Bar Association: What do you think about the new public-private partnership legislation?
Richard Garza: I suspect we are going to see a lot of growth in the public-private partnership mode of procurement going forward. I understand that there is a mode of submitted unsolicited public-private partnerships to public entities. I am curious to see how that goes forward.
Texas Aggie Bar Association: As a successful business owner, what advice do you have for Aggie lawyers?
Richard Garza: Define the objectives of your clients early on and reconfirm those objectives during the course of the work you do for them. Legal work can have a way of getting off track, which is often when disputes arise. I would encourage them to revisit the client’s goals and expectations frequently. In addition, be as lean as possible. I'm looking for people that are knowledgeable and get to the point. Substance, not fluff, is very important to me.
Texas Aggie Bar Association: What's the best advice you've given anyone?
Richard Garza: Build, earn, and keep trust. People do business with people they know and have developed a trust relationship with over time. That is where your clients are going to come from. That's where the bulk of your billings are going to come from. Try not to let anything get in the way of trust. That's probably the best advice I can give.
Texas Aggie Bar Association: What is the best advice you've gotten?
Richard Garza: Do what you do best and hire others to do the tasks you don't do well. For example, spend money on good accountants, good attorneys, and good marketing people, if you don't know how to do those things.
Texas Aggie Bar Association: What's the biggest challenge in what you do?
Richard Garza: Communication with those outside my industry. Sometimes I’m too close to the business, so when I meet people that are not associated with the real-estate industry or the architectural/engineering/construction industry, it is often difficult to help them understand what we do. As a result, I have really tried to tone down the message on our website. It's very specific. We are real-estate design and construction advisors. I have worked to boil it down to a few words so people can digest it more easily.
Texas Aggie Bar Association: What do you enjoy most about your work?
Richard Garza: Helping people accomplish their capital projects. It's fascinating how people interact to solve a problem. The interdisciplinary approach required to get projects done, involving attorneys, architects, engineers, owners, and users, is a lot of fun.
Texas Aggie Bar Association: What is the most productive way to develop trust among these different players involved in a project?
Richard Garza: Trust is built over time. It’s key to find team members that are going to be the best solution for the problem very early on in the project and develop a collaborative spirit on the project using an integrated project-delivery (IPD) method. This is a trend that I think will continue.
Texas Aggie Bar Association: How can people find out more about Garza Project Management?
Richard Garza: The easiest way would be to go to our website at www.garzapm.com.