He helped developer grow during tough times

Large private companies: Terry M. Marshall, The Breeden Co., Virginia Beach

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Print this page by Donna C. Gregory

For many commercial developers, the familiar sounds of construction have been nearly silent since the real estate crash in 2008.

But that hasn’t been the case for The Breeden Co., a Virginia Beach firm that develops and manages multifamily and retail real estate.

Under the financial guidance of CFO Terry M. Marshall, The Breeden Co. has continued to develop its portfolio while other companies faltered. Since 2009, the company has moved forward in building apartment complexes in Virginia Beach, Hampton and Chesapeake and in Henrico and Isle of Wright counties. The Breeden Co. also acquired 300 multifamily units in Newport News.

Steering The Breeden Co. through bad times was nothing new for Marshall. He’s encountered several financial downturns since joining the company as CFO in 1986, although he admits the most recent recession was “the most difficult one I can recall.”

Still, when other developers pulled back because of a sluggish rental market and tight-fisted lenders, The Breeden Co. saw an opportunity for growth. “We make some of the best money during down times,” says CEO Ramon Breeden Jr. “We forge ahead.”

During the past decade, the company’s annual revenues have grown from $22 million to $78 million. The company now oversees about 5,000 multifamily units, compared with 1,652 units in 2003.

Breeden credits Marshall with playing an important role in that growth. “Terry is a real guiding light, not only for myself, but for others in the organization,” Breeden says. “Terry’s best attribute is his honesty and his sincerity. I’m very fortunate to have Terry Marshall working for me.”

The company’s good reputation helped it secure financing for projects when other developers left lenders’ offices empty handed.

“We are a company that can be counted on to execute and execute well,” Marshall explains. “On the financing side, people like a borrower who is careful. You have to be cautious, you have to be conservative, you have to be well capitalized, and we do all of that. … We have a good reputation, and frankly, there’s no substitute for that.”

The ability to secure financing meant the company could take advantage of falling land prices. “In recessionary times, you will see more opportunities because people have land that they weren’t able to execute a plan on,” Marshall says. “You may not achieve discount pricing in every instance, but you do see opportunities, and where you see opportunities, that’s where you can make money.”

Marshall’s theory is that people don’t become smarter as they age — they become wiser. And that wisdom helped The Breeden Co. weather one of the worst real estate storms ever.
“Over his tenure, [Terry] has certainly proved that he made wise decisions that have directly contributed to the company’s success,” Breeden says. “Terry has the ability to offer creative, alternative solutions to make deals work. After earnest evaluations, if a deal is not viable, he is the voice of reason that prevents the company from making costly mistakes.” 

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