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November 2018

Oklahoma's oldest venture forum and professional networking organization. Fostering local business venture growth since 1987.

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Sourcing New Opportunities in a Dynamic Real Estate Market

with Braden Merritt of Humphreys Capital

Written by Lori Williams

Today Braden Merritt builds relationships with real estate investors across the country. Four years ago he was living in Paris with his wife and their two toddlers – in a 375 square foot apartment. How, and why, he came to be Director of Investor Relations at Humphreys Capital is as much about adaptation as it is about real estate.  

“My wife calls it character building,” says Merritt of the months they spent in Paris while he studied at the Institute of French Petroleum. “It was not your typical European excursion.” But by the time he received his MBA, the energy bubble had burst in OKC. So he went on to work in management consulting at Boston Consulting Group and then with Google Fiber in Oklahoma City. “Google decided not to expand in the OKC market,” says Merritt, “but my wife and I wanted to stay and raise our family in Oklahoma.” 

This is when the story comes full circle. “God has been navigating my life and career in a way I never could have planned myself,” says Merritt.  “Our family experienced multiple career transitions, and through the uncertainty we have been provided for beyond measure.  I am still blessed by the incredible relationships and experiences God used to touch our lives along the way and am ever grateful for His abundant grace through Jesus.” 

During the time when Merritt was seeking a career change, he learned that the Humphreys family was growing their team.  So the young man with a wife and four children, as well as an MBA, a distinguished tour of duty in the United States Marine Corps, and significant technology and management experience, sat down with the CEO of Humphreys Capital. But it wasn’t the first time they shared a cup of coffee “When I was in high school, my family went to church with the Humphreys,” recalls Braden. “In fact, Kirk did a Bible Study at my parents’ kitchen table.” 

So the studying commenced again, but this time it centered on real estate and investing opportunities. Today Captain Merritt, who left active duty in 2013, does a different type of reconnaissance as he evaluates the financial landscape and communicates with long range investment partners for Humphreys Capital. “We seek best-in-class developers as we acquire, develop and operate income-producing, multi-sector properties including industrial, multifamily, office and retail.”  

But Humphreys Capital didn’t start out as an institutional quality real estate investment platform. Just a decade ago, it was a family run business with a robust selection of convenience store properties. In 2012, more team members began to come on board to assess and manage the firm’s strong but cumbersome suite of investments. Over time the portfolio grew and diversified to include some investments that would have multi-tenant properties, office and industrial and had a different return profile and a different lease turnover profile. “Humphreys Capital has evolved to be able to take advantage of new opportunities in a dynamic market,” says Merritt, who could say the same of his own career path.  

One example of that evolution is The Edge at Midtown, a multifamily infill property near Heritage Hills in OKC. “This was our first experience partnering with a joint venture developer,” explains Merritt. “We started in core properties that were cash flowing and stable from the beginning. We quickly realized there were opportunities to build relationships with other developers who were among the leaders in their class.”  

So thus began the legacy investment platform that now includes real estate interests in secondary markets throughout the southeastern and southwestern United States. “When we began making investments of this type,” says Merritt, “we came in with a minority share that helped the developer fill out the rest of their capital.” 

It wasn’t long before investors began knocking on Humphreys Capital’s door with two questions. “What about the hard times, the times when things don’t go as planned?” ask the investors. But the Humphreys are not put off by such queries. “One of the projects we point to is The Lift, a mixed-use apartment and commercial space project near St. Anthony in OKC,” says Merritt. “We committed to that development right before the energy market turned in OKC. But when you work with developers who can weather those challenges, you can still hit your underwriting on a good investment.” 

“We don’t want to make investments where everything always has to go perfectly right in order for us to be successful.”  

Apparently those kinds of scenarios are good for business because the second question the Humphreys Capital team often hears these days is, “Are you interested in being the lead investor?”  

“We are more and more frequently one of the first phone calls from developers,” he says. “When that happens, we get opportunities earlier and we also get an improving selection of investments from which to choose.” 

“So the bigger challenge our deal team has at this time is weighing each deal against another and deciding what is best for our portfolio.”  

DISCLAIMER 

Information presented herein is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies.  Investments involve risk and unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed.  Nothing contained herein should be interpreted as investment advice.  Specific companies or securities described herein are meant to be illustrative of investment style.  Such case studies are not meant to be, and may not be, representative of any portfolio or holdings of the Humphreys Capital. 
Please note that past performance is not a guarantee of future results. 

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Member Highlight
 

Kitt Letcher

A CEO by day, and Scorpio for her entire life...

Kitt Letcher is the President & CEO of the Better Business Bureau® of Central Oklahoma.  With over 100 different BBB’s in North America, each with its own CEO and Board, and the national Council of Better Business Bureaus, when it comes to BBB Kitt is the “head honcho in these here parts”, and is responsible for ensuring BBB executes its mission locally.   

When not in her professional attire you can find Kitt rocking her favorite outfit an inflatable T-Rex costume, which she’s rocked around her OKC office on more than 1 occasion.  Kitt has been known to cut a rug with the best of them, either in public or at the office, but has hung up her dancing shoes, unless occasion calls for it, because she has a tendency to throw out her hip…along with all synchronization to the actual beat.  

While Kitt doesn’t like to toot her own horn, she didn’t write this bio - Kitt has been recognized by a variety of leaders within the BBB community as the new generation of thought leadership for a brand that spans the entire continent and has been around for over a century.  Aside from serving in a national leadership position for BBB she is constantly turned to as a source of knowledge and inspiration by her counterparts in other states.  Kitt is responsible for organizing and leading a team to take a local organization facing an uncertain future to one that’s achieved 80% growth and nearly doubling its share of the market since her tenure began in 2013.  

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Chairman's Perspective 

Brad Rickelman

Meridian Technology Center

We recently had a visitor to our incubator at Meridian Technology Center who became a little lost on our campus. He asked some of the students where the incubator was located, and they didn’t have any idea. He eventually located our building and remarked on the lack of knowledge by the students. In one sense this is a bit discouraging; our program is 20 years old – surely the students would know where we are! Yet, most of the students are only here for a year or two, so their experience may have had little to do with the incubator. 

The same can be said for the Oklahoma Venture Forum. We’ve been around for 30 years, yet I still meet people at meetings in Oklahoma City who have no idea who we are or what we do. Just like any business, the OVF is only as good as our relationship with our latest customer – our members and attendees at events. The onus is on us; nostalgia is not going to bring many to our luncheons, after-hours events and networking activities.  

Each event this year I am going to remind you to invite a guest and (hopefully) prospective member. Yet if you are not ready to describe what we do in such a way as to make vivid the value the guest herself sees from membership, we are not going to grow.  

On Thursday October 25th we will be having our second after-hours event starting at 5:30pm located at Halcyon Works 405 NW 30th Street. Oklahoma’s Business Incubator Association is the host sponsor for the evening. In addition to fine food and wine, we will have a brief discussion on medical marijuana business creation. Even in Stillwater, I counted a doubling of business registrations in August – all with names that strongly suggest dealing in, with, or about medical marijuana.  

Our next monthly luncheon is November 14th, with speaker Braden Merritt, Director, Investor Relations, Humphreys Capital. Braden will discuss both the evolution of their team and strategy in a dynamic real estate marketplace. Our short presenter will be Brian Bomar, Whiteboard software, which provides mortgage CRM tools for mortgage professionals.  

I look forward to seeing you – and a guest! – at an upcoming event.

OVF 2018-2019 Events Calendar

Speaker Series Lunches

November 14, 2018
December 12, 2018
January 9, 2019
February 13, 2019
March 13, 2019
April 10, 2019
May 8th, 2019

OVF After Hours

January 23rd - Vault 405
April 4th - TBA

Award for Economic Impact

May 8th, 2019
Oklahoma History Center


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