Alumni Spotlight: Tracy Green, MBA ’92
Tracy Green, MBA '92, is the President of IRG Realty Advisors (IRG RA), the largest third-party commercial real estate company headquartered in the state of Ohio. IRG RA’s serviced asset portfolio boasts nearly 100 million square feet of industrial, office, retail, and mixed-use product in 28 states across the US. Sellinger was an essential component to Green’s success, however, Loyola almost didn’t play a part in his career at all, as he was rejected when he first applied to the MBA program. Green did not take no for an answer and appealed for his eventual acceptance. In this interview, Green discusses the impact that decision had on his life, and how his personal and professional core values have directed him to success.
Q: Why did you choose to study at Sellinger?
I received my undergraduate degree in finance from Miami University. My career path led me to Baltimore, where I became aware of Loyola’s MBA program. My career was going well, but I felt strongly that an enhanced degree from a quality Masters in Business program would fill an educational gap and provide me the needed education and confidence to take my career to the next level. I applied to Sellinger, however, I was initially rejected. Instead of accepting that response, I appealed to the Dean of the business school which led to a lengthy persuasion effort and to my ultimate acceptance into the MBA program. At the end of the day, it turned out great for everyone. I learned a valuable lesson, earned a valuable degree, gained confidence with a 3.9 GPA and the University gained an accomplished alumnus.
Q: What about your Loyola experience helped you get to where you are today? What experience did you gain?
Loyola taught me the value and simplicity of perseverance. In the commercial real estate industry, especially with some of the complicated deals we work on, you inevitably run into road blocks. Developing creative solutions and then grinding through tasking scenarios to create successful outcomes takes a bit stubbornness and perseverance. My experience in life and certainly at Loyola helped me build that tool set. The MBA program was definitely hard work. Studying at night and on the weekends after working through the days for a real estate developer did not leave much gas left in the tank. Yet, I was always energized by the case study approach and the collaboration it took to work within team environments. It was very practical, applicable and beneficial for me and allowed me to gain an exciting new perspective on my career. Additionally, Loyola helped bring clarity to what I had always felt; that commercial real estate should be viewed through the same lenses as any capital investment and it should, therefore, be studied, managed and positioned with the same asset approach as any other equity investment vehicle. Finally, Loyola also helped give me the confidence to start, grow and operate my own complicated service business, opening doors all along the way.
Q: What are some of the roles you’ve held in your career?
After earning my MBA, I worked for a few different commercial real estate service companies in Maryland and Ohio. In 1996, I was named the Managing Director for the Grubb & Ellis office in Cleveland Ohio. While there, I was offered an opportunity to interview for a principal position with Trammel Crow Company, one of the world’s largest diversified real estate companies. Crow was consistently named one of Forbes Top 100 Companies to work for, and they were very select in their hiring qualifications, typically hiring folks with MBA’s from the Ivy League schools. Had I not achieved the Sellinger MBA, I would never have had a chance to interview for that job, let alone win it.
As Principal and Senior Vice President of Trammel Crow, I was accountable for a Fortune 500 real estate outsourcing assignment with a portfolio of over 1,300 facilities and more than 12 million square feet of space. I managed a team of 135 super dedicated people, and we achieved a $50 million-dollar favorable run rate impact to the bottom line earnings of this client, accomplished with off balance sheet strategies, leveraged buying power, and renegotiated lease deals.
In July of 2001, the opportunity to start my own business in Ohio presented itself. I had met people at Sellinger who had successfully started their own businesses, so I made a calculated decision to launch Ohio Realty Advisors (ORA). The perseverance, case study work, and decision-making skills that I learned at Sellinger helped me to navigate the difficulties of running a brand new real estate business in the wake of 9/11, and the company steadily grew.
After we completed the public/private development of Goodyear’s brand new state of the art World Headquarters in Akron, Ohio, my largest client, IRG, solidified their interest in the company and acquired ORA in 2013. I transferred my 100% ownership stake in ORA into IRG and became President of IRG RA. One of our most exciting current projects is developing the Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village, a $750 million-dollar football themed entertainment complex, which embodies the missions and values of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Q: What values help guide your business today?
As my company was growing, I knew that we were doing well but I felt as though we had a long way to go. Essentially, we were a “good” company but not yet a “great” company. During that time of growth, I noticed my copy of Jim Collin’s Good to Great sitting on my bookshelf and decided to read it again with a current and future frame of mind. It made me realize how critical it was for us to revisit our Company’s Core Values and Core Purpose, and so our leadership team drove the company through a two-year focused facilitation (named G2G) which tested and then re-dedicated us to our core values: honesty, people, commitment, respect, accountability, dedication and passion. Most importantly, G2G identified our commitment to attracting, retaining, developing, rewarding and inspiring the Best People in our industry. Retention is over 95% and we have governed a culture that is attractive, respectful and engaging.
Q: Are there any boards or groups to which you belong?
I actively seek out opportunities to be involved in my local community and the communities that we work in. In fact, our Core Purpose is “Improving Communities by Developing and Implementing Innovative Real Estate Solutions that Surpass Our Client’s Expectations.” We lead in adaptive reuse projects so our projects tend to have a high job creation component to them, helping communities that have lost jobs due to plant or facility closures and bringing new life back to them. Outside of that, I have served or am serving on the board of United Way of Medina County, the Medina United Methodist Church and St Joseph’s Hospital.
I also support a charitable organization called Hope Lodge, which provides families with cancer patients free lodging, food, transportation and care support for those traveling to hospitals throughout the country and who cannot afford to be there with their patient. Having lost my wife and both parents prematurely to cancer, I have learned the hard way the importance of the caregiver role to wage the battle. Family is so important in effectuating successful outcomes or at least supportive outcomes. For the past 12 years, we have held a charitable golf outing donating all proceeds to Hope Lodge through American Cancer Society. To date, we have raised over $325,000. It is now a signature event in our community with over 200 golfers spread over 2 courses, meaningful speakers and great fun. It is easily the accomplishment our company is most proud of each year.
Q. Tell us about reconnecting with Sellinger
I am a strong believer in God and His purpose for all of us. It is with that mindset that I believe he recently gave me an opportunity to reconnect with Loyola and Sellinger that I look forward to cultivating. Sellinger was such a pivotal, inspirational and educational part of my development as a young man. Knowing that all things flow from God, it is clear his placement of me in Baltimore at that point in my life was truly a blessing and one which has changed my life forever. I would guess it can have or already has had the same impact on you if you allow it in your heart.