Unique, Family-Run Firm Offers Full-Range of Real-Estate Services

KIRCO

If you are looking to have a building developed, constructed, and managed all by the same firm, think about contacting KIRCO of Troy, Michigan. This unique, vertically-integrated real estate company has a long list of high-profile projects and a full range of property-related services.
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Family-run, with roots going back nearly a century, the company consists of three main segments: KIRCO Development, which handles property development; KIRCO MANIX, the construction arm; and KIRCO Property Management.

These segments can work together to provide “a single point of accountability,” for real-estate projects, according to KIRCO MANIX President Douglas Manix.

Douglas and his son, Adam Manix, explain how the company operates and its unique, vertically-integrated structure. “The development group works in concert with the construction group. We work in two markets. One would be what we call corporate build-to-suit, working with Fortune 500 companies to take care of their real-estate requirements,” says Douglas of the approach in which the building is constructed and fitted out to suit a specific tenant.

“That could be everything from industrial and manufacturing plants to corporate headquarters, research and development facilities, and senior living.” Development services rendered by KIRCO include project financing, project accounting, leasing, acquisitions, and more.

“The construction group, of which I’m president and Adam is director of business development, is KIRCO MANIX. KIRCO MANIX performs what we call third-party construction services,” he continues. Third-party construction services cover every phase of a project from design and engineering to the actual construction itself.

KIRCO’s final segment consists of the property and facilities management group. “After we develop real-estate, we can manage it for the tenant. Oftentimes, after we build a building, we’ll introduce our property management team to the client, and they’ll manage it,” says Douglas. The property management segment handles budgets for buildings, maintenance, code compliance reviews, tenant relations, tenant services, environmental evaluations, and financial reports.

KIRCO’s full-service model has been “absolutely critical,” to the company’s success. “It’s a differentiator for us. It enables us to bring our full company resources to a deal,” he states. “Not a lot of companies in our area are vertically-integrated and offer that full menu of services. I think it also helps us pursuing basic construction projects. We think like an owner because we are owners. Rather than just going out to build whatever a client asks for, we’ll go out and make sure it’s a good quality building and all aspects of the [construction] are thought through as if we owned it.”

This full-service approach clearly has a great deal of appeal. The company has been involved in several significant projects such as the new global headquarters for the Dow Chemical Company in Midland, Michigan. The new headquarters boasts a six-story concrete wall and steel frame structure encompassing 184,390 square feet, a two-story atrium with floor-to-ceiling glass, and other innovative features. Construction was completed in summer 2017.

“We oversaw the design and construction of that. The headquarters had a lot of nice features in it. It was a real marquee job,” he notes.

Another huge project involved a fuel testing and technology center for Saudi Aramco in Novi, Michigan. This facility includes offices, conference rooms, and space for research and testing.

KIRCO also took part in a build-to-suit project involving the new Oerlikon advanced powder manufacturing center in Plymouth Township, Michigan. At 80,000 square feet, the center is designed to house the company’s additive manufacturing and coating operations.

KIRCO was selected as development partner by the Cardinal Health and Henry Ford Health System for a massive revitalization initiative in downtown Detroit. The project involved an award-winning 275,000-square-foot distribution and light assembly facility, established in a formally derelict district.

While the KIRCO MANIX construction segment is relatively new, the company has a lineage going back nearly a century. The roots of the firm can be traced to 1929, with the launch of a construction business called Campbell in the Detroit area. In its day, Campbell built many industrial buildings, particularly for the automotive sector, says Douglas.

According to Adam, Campbell did projects for General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, including constructing manufacturing and assembly facilities. Campbell was eventually purchased by a firm run by Douglas Manix and became known as Campbell/Manix which operated as a design-build construction firm in Michigan.

The KIRCO company, meanwhile, was launched in 1974 by Alan Kiriluk. KIRCO offered commercial real-estate development, property management, and construction. In 2009, a merger took place between Campbell/Manix and KIRCO Construction. The KIRCO MANIX construction firm was born and went on to a play a huge role in overall KIRCO operations.

“We put our teams together, and within a couple of months, it felt like we had been together for decades. I’ve merged companies before. The most important ingredient is the culture of the companies. If you don’t have a culture that’s aligned as far as integrity, paying your bills, treating vendors fairly, all those aspects, the mergers aren’t going to work. It’s been a great merger,” recalls Douglas Manix. “We were able to combine construction and real-estate development and property management all under roof. That’s why the merger made sense.”

Alan remains chairman of KIRCO. His son Matt Kiriluk currently serves as KIRCO president, while other Kiriluk siblings are also involved in the firm, Dean as Chief Investment Officer, and Quinn as Vice President, Development.

KIRCO counts ninety employees, working across all segments. Douglas wants new hires to have a passionate attitude and the ability to cope with the ups and downs inherent in the real-estate business. “We like to hire local talent that has a passion and then teach them how we do business. We have many employees that have been here north of thirty years,” he says.

In addition to the core staff, KIRCO relies on a talented team of subcontractors to handle design, architectural, and construction duties. Subcontractors are carefully vetted. KIRCO MANIX likes to maintain long-term relationships with its high-performing partners. “We’ve had several sub-contractors that have worked with us for over thirty years,” states Douglas. “We have some great sub-contractor partners.”

While headquartered in Michigan, KIRCO has branches in West Palm Beach, Florida; New Albany, Ohio; and Birmingham, Alabama. The company might eventually open new branches but is satisfied with fulfilling customer needs in its existing geographic market for now.

KIRCO’s promotion really comes down to human relations and reputation. “A lot of it is boots on the ground and a relationship building mentality. We’re going out to industry events. We’ve got a lot of really strong relationships with real estate brokers, economic development officials here in town. They’re a great source of lead generation,” says Douglas.

Simply being customer-focused is also key to promotional efforts, he adds. “If you perform and you do a good job, [your clients] are your best source of referrals and good PR.”

Clients are not the only ones impressed with KIRCO; the company has also been earning industry kudos. Alan and Matt Kiriluk were recently included on ‘The Detroit 500’ list of prominent executives compiled by DBusiness magazine. Midwest Real Estate News magazine listed KIRCO at number 47 on its “Best of the Best 2018” list of top property management companies in the Midwest. Another publication, Crain’s Detroit Business, listed KIRCO MANIX at number 19 on its April 2017 list of largest general contractors in the Detroit-area, based on 2016 revenues.

As for the company’s future, Douglas points to KIRCO’s corporate build-to-suit, healthcare and senior living specialties. “Our goals are to keep expanding that business.”

Adam echoes this ambition, adding that the company has been “adapting some pretty cool new technologies, whether it be project management software or drones to help us do due diligence,” at construction sites.

New technology aside, KIRCO’s continued success will almost certainly be based on three factors: its vertically integrated structure, projects done well, and a family-based management model.

“The Kiriluks and Manix’s have a lot of resources and brainpower, and we’re looking forward to continuing this into the future generations,” states Douglas Manix.

Building the Next Generation

As thousands of experienced workers retire across North America every day, it is small wonder many industries are concerned about the future. It has been a decade since the oldest members of the baby boom generation started leaving their jobs, removing from the workplace decades of experience and skills that are tough to replace. The situation is so dire that, when younger workers are not available or knowledgeable enough to take over, retired staffers are often called back to work on a part-time basis.

December 8, 2019, 12:41 AM EST